25 July 2012

Birds Appreciate Fresh Water at Carthage

Oppressive heat descended upon the Missouri River valley, and settled in for an unsurpassed extent, with more than two weeks of temperatures exceeding 95o. Daily temperatures have exceeded 100o, especially during the past few days, with reportorial people indicating the actual extreme of the situation with the past few days having peak daily temperatures a few digits above 100o, with an even greater heat index.

Hot and dry conditions are prevalent in the River City. On Monday, July 23rd, the peak temperature was 105o, tying the previous record. On the 24th, it was 87o at 6 a.m. in the morning, and at 102o twelve hours later, with humidity increasing that value two degrees. No rain has fallen for a month, and that would be in latter June. Ozone warnings have been issued for the city-scape of Omaha.

The outdoor situation in my neighborhood has meant an obvious and dedicated attention to a bit of a blue bowl for the birds in the Carthage neighborhood of east Omaha. As the temperatures soared into the triple digit range, so did attention to the little basin with fresh water. It has been an obvious attraction where many birds have been regularly congregating each and every day for weeks.

Visits have been continual. Antics by the birds are expressive as they drink and bathe. Their splashes are wonderfully evocative and indicative of a refreshing interlude. Some of them hop on the rock in the basin and just stand there for a time, cooling their feet.

There is a piece of discarded cement in the basin because otherwise the water would be too deep. The cement piece provides a place for birds to stand while getting into the water, and then splash about — especially using their wings — to refresh and cleanse their feathers, while also improving their condition on a hot day.

Results have been obvious, every day while seen from the — thankfully — relative coolness of the back-room at the house.

Fresh water with its coolant and bathing value has been continually provided in the back-yard bird bath and regularly renewed — often three times a day when the temps have exceeded the 100o mark. It's an obvious attraction. There have been so many indicative moments as a bird, or birds, splash in the water, walk on the rim of the bird bath, or are otherwise active at the water's scene.

There is an obvious hierarchy at the bird bath. Some birds fly in to land without hesitation. Others wait nearby because some other bird is at the basin.

Especially appreciative have been the groups of common grackles, which nest nearby. There is a routine at the blue bowl. Adult grackles supersede any younger members of this species as the darker-colored adults get priority, while the muted black juveniles wait nearby. An adult may not chase away a juveniles, especially when a group is present, probably a family at the water attraction.

House Sparrows are typically in a group as they gather at the bird bath. It is a special time to see how the lighter colored youngsters — recently fledged — consider the water and limit their exposure to a bit of a sip. These birds rarely get in to splash about.

Robins have been seen, repeatedly waiting nearby on the grass, for their moment in the water.

A few Mourning Doves also visit. They might walk around the dried-out lawn before waiting for a time when no other birds are at the water. They drink more than bathe.

There has been the occasional visit by an errant cardinal getting a drink. There has been a vagabond Blue Jay now and then. Among the species represented is a reddish-head house finch on the edge of the bird bath, quickly getting a drink of fresh water. Starlings occasionally come and go.

They have all been welcome. There have been only a few daylight minutes in recent days when there has not been a bird at the blue basin by the windmill, which has been a roost used by grackles and others of the birdly sort.

By providing fresh water, again and again during ongoing days, there has been a setting to appreciate because so many wild birds have appreciated a refreshing time at some small blue basin with fresh water. It's available for birds of any sort at Carthage, by Dundee, in Omaha.