Tuesday, August 30, 2016
My bird feeders are always busy. I always have Lesser Goldfinches* and House Finches at the feeder. You generally will see Titmice, Towhees and Nuthatches. In the summer, a few Black Headed Grosbeaks hang out---once I managed to catch some Evening Grosbeaks. I don't think there is a more beautiful bird around here other than the painfully beautiful Evening Grosbeaks. In the early mornings, the Mourning Doves would feed on the ground.
In addition, there are three Squirrels who love to steal the sunflower seed that I serve the birds. They tease the dogs, an endless game between Squirrel and Canine.
For the last month, I have only seen a couple of the Black Headed Grosbeaks. Every other bird has been AWOL. In all the years I have lived here, I have always had at least Goldfinches and House Finches at the feeder. Not this year.
Why? Where have they gone?
One friend said they will disappear when it is hot. But this summer hasn't been very hot and every other year the birds were here even when the weather was scorchingly hot.
I miss them. This place isn't the same without them.
My trail camera broke, and I just got a new one. So far, nothing has wandered past its lens other than a jackrabbit.
So why the Silent Summer? Where are the birds? Where are the Squirrels?
I'm going to call Fish and Wildlife and ask them.
I have a theory though.
I am surrounded by Pot Growers. The number one problem they have been having is mites, which can consume the flowering parts of the plant, the part that gets you high, and cut the yield substantially. Most of the growers around me are kids in their 20's. My theory is that one or more of these growers have been using a miticide like Avid, which is very toxic to fish and birds. Avid is illegal to use on food crops---it is for ornamentals, but it is the "go to" miticide to deal with the mite that kills cannabis plants. If inhaled, Avid is carcinogenic. (don't put that in your pipe and smoke it).
I think one or more of the growers have been using large amounts of Avid, or something similar, on their plants and somehow it has gotten into the food chain. Hence the disappearance of Squirrels and my beloved winged friends.
* I understand it is customary to not use the upper case letter for wildlife unless there is a qualifier before it: Steller's jay as opposed to sparrows. It is my custom to always capitalize the names of wildlife: they deserve it.