By Lorraine Snipper
My yard here in Island Park is a haven for many birds, in all seasons. In the spring/early summer, birds are in the process of picking mates and building nests. I see beautiful western tanagers flitting from branch to branch in my aspens, along with the odd bluebirds along my fenceline and in my blue spruce treetops. Each bird species has its courtship rituals in spring, and I was lucky enough to witness the courtship ritual between evening grosbeaks.
I watched the male present himself to the female on multiple occasions on my railing, and she would rebuff him and fly off. On this occasion, she went right up and touched his breast with hers, and off they flew.
In the summer, of course, yellow warblers are common visitors, and mountain bluebirds and tree swallows swoop gracefully, grabbing insects in the air. Summer is also the time for babies to leave their nests and strike out on their own.
Here I have included a western tanager seen in early summer, and a juvenile mountain bluebird that was playing with its sibling near my railing after fledging. Along with fauna in the trees in my yard, the sky provides its own bounty in the form of eagles, red-tailed hawks and Swainson’s hawks, more readily viewed in the spring and fall. Hawks often utilize my tallest pines to keep watch for rodents in fields near and far. Great horned owls also may be seen in early morning and at dusk.
Birds and squirrels send out warning calls when predators are present, and listening for these cues is a great way to find their hiding places. I have enjoyed wandering through my yard to discover the delights offered throughout the year, it has been a welcome island of calm.