Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A Bird in the Hand

I just checked my favorite Phoebe nest and found that the last of the chicks has flown the coop (so to speak). This is my favorite Phoebe because she managed to raise 4 chicks all within reach of a a most bird-crazy leonberger's nose. She built her nest in the corner of Sophie's and Milos's dog shelter. This is the place that they get brushed - and all the undercoat just pushed outside (love living in the Maine woods). Most of the bird nests are golden red around our place! Now this building site may seem like a good choice for a bird -- protection from predators due to the dogs, lots of soft building materials, and shelter from the elements. But, there was one thing she didn't bargain for - Milos the fearless birddog. Not a dove, chick-a-dee, crow nor sparrow is safe within the range of Mighty-Milos. He spends most of his time (not counting his battle with the local red-squirrel family - another story) darting around, ferociously barking and working hard keeping all birds in the air at all times.

We noticed the mother bird checking out the area, but had no idea she would pick that spot. There was no problem while she built the nest and layed the eggs. Not many issues while she incubated them either -- then they hatched and started making "noises"! Bird noises inside Mighty-Milos's shelter was not acceptable. At first he couldn't figure out how to approach the nest of hair and twigs emitting these chirping sounds since he would always bump his head when he attempted to jump up. So, he resorted to sitting pretty in front of the nest and peeking inside. Finally, after a lot of practice he was able to stand up on his back legs and touch the outside with his nose. Ms. Phoebe would go crazy flitting around and squaking for him to leave her family alone. There was no way we could monitor him at all times and figured the end was near. Daily, I visited the shelter expecting the worst. Believe it or not - he NEVER knocked the nest down! And Momma Phoebe would always return to feeding after his visits.

The chicks feathered, flourished and flew away! (But she didn't lay anymore eggs there.) Somewhere out there is a line of phoebes with an affinity for leonberger breath. So, if you notice one riding around on your dogs head - they probably were "bred in Maine".

Oh Lucky Day

Many of you may remember reading about Milos and the porcupine?? Posting

Yesterday afternoon, I started out with the dogs on a woods walk - Milos on leash and Sophie lallygagging around behind as usual. My husband, David, decided to come with us at the last minute - this will prove to be a lucky choice. Off we went, eating grass, sniffing the air for hare, piddling here and there and overall generally enjoying the nice Maine summer (the dogs anyway). David and I were having a discussion about what a choke cherry really looks like - I am on this quest to identify as many wildplants as possible this year. See posts. And I strode off toward a shady area where I am certain the real chokecherries grow. All of a sudden the leash springs tight and Milos goes on full alert. I glance down to my right. About 3 feet away is a slumbering pile of needles. Poor guy, he was just trying to take a nap in the shade. As I worked to get Milos under control - he recognized his old nemesis, the previously pokey Sophie dashed by at full speed right past David's grab. Now, I like to think I am calm -- but there is something about those beady eyes and waving spines that just sets me off. Or it was remembering the pliers extracting them out of Milos's nose last year. Anyway, they set me off! I'm screaming at her (or it) or Dave or everything; which is not a whole lot of help. Milos is trying his best to convince me that he should be part of the excitement and Sophie is off to investigate. Images of another needle-nose fly through my mind as Dave crashes through the brush in hot pursuit. The porcupine ambles toward a tree (can they even run?) while Sophie darts in and out debating the merits of a close sniff. Thank goodness she is more cautious than "the boy". Dave finally managed to grab her collar and haul her out of the woods. Unbelievably she was completely free of any injury. Whew!

---There are times when a little hesitation can prove to be an advantage. Last week, she came up on a turtle - which she circled for a good 3 minutes before Milos and I got to them. It was a woods turtle on his way to the brook. Milos wanted to immediately make friends and lick the funny colored shell. I swear, if it had been a snapper (like the ones where I grew up), he would no longer have a tongue. Oh the impulsiveness of youth. --

Anyway, its back on leash for both of them for awhile. We seem to only see porcupines during the hotter days in summer, and I know that both will have noses in the air searching for the scent for the next several walks. Boo.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Boom Boom Boom

We again enjoyed the fireworks from the front lawn. Industry is known for having a nice show - and they proved it again.

We are still so dry - the dust is blowing across the front of the house. Milos and Sophie discovered the plastic and styrofoam in the front and to deter any future digging, we spent the morning laying stones. Most of our life in Maine is moving rocks and stones from one location to another - I think this must be a historical occupation in New England.