The Usual Suspects: Backyard Birds in Summer

Summer is in full swing in our little corner of Alameda.  Though our grass is a sea of dust and exposed sprinkler pipe, the birds don't seem to mind it in the least.  A small family of house sparrows along with the local towhees are frequent visitors.  They hop about pecking invisible weed seeds, insects, and have even deigned it the best spot for a nice dust bath.  Our yellow lab looks on quizzically as they flounder and flutter, digging themselves a nice trough with their beaks, feet and wings.  They wallow and fling the dust.  I almost expect them to writhe on their backs in the ecstasy of this sea of warm dirt.  When they take off, they leave little trails of dust in the air following them, mini-contrails.

The towhees are special favorites of mine.  I've nicknamed one of the adults Whitewing,  It has two distinctive, small white feathers on its closed wings.  It's nesting somewhere in the neighborhood this year, but not in our yard.  It nested in the Camellia tree a few years ago, right outside our boys bedroom window.  It was thrilling to see the young nestlings and watch them fledge.  We're getting ready for the bittersweet experience of fledging one of our own young this fall when our eldest heads off for his first year away at college.  The uncertainty of these economic times adds additional stress to the art of helping our young man to fly and be free.

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