My favorite times of day are near dusk and dawn. The time of day, when the shadows get longer and you can sit outside without a hat on, with coffee or cold drink in hand, and contemplate the wonders of nature.
It’s the time of day full of chirping and songs, and the emergence of the critters. It’s the time before the sounds of daily human activities; the din of lawn mowers and leaf blowers, the constant chatter of workmen nearby.
Think of how your morning walk would change if you pulled out the headphone plugs, and simply listened to the sounds of nature. Tune in not out. I will use my iPhone on nature walks; it has an app called “Merlin” that listens to and records bird sounds, and in real time suggests a possible identification. For me, a nature lover who basically knows nothing, it has opened up a world of knowledge, and has brought me even closer to nature. As the names of birds are popping up on the screen, you get an idea of what may be making the sound, and aiding you in visually identifying it. The app can also be used by someone with a hearing loss, someone who can hear, but the sounds may not be crisp enough.
As areas are developed, and natural land is changed, birds lose their favorite trees and water sources. Several of my friends have installed screech owl nesting boxes, in their yards, within view of their windows or porches. In the wild, screech owls nest in abandoned holes created by woodpeckers for example. Before I get a nesting box, I need to use “Merlin” to see if I already have owls in my yard, or vicinity. There might just be a natural "house" in my wooded acreage.
“Birders” are a pretty great bunch of people. A friend was invited for a cocktail at the home of a neighbor who had a “screech owl” nesting box in a palm tree outside the porch. Yes, lively Key Largo nightlife…sipping on a drink while listing to the “HOO”. She later found an appropriate spot in her own yard, where she could enjoy the owls, who came year after year thereafter, until hurricane Irma tore the house down.
Have you ever heard someone say they never see any birds in their yards? Or maybe they do not know where to start looking for birds. The answer is, look in your backyard.
Ask yourself, what does a migrating bird or even a local bird, have to eat in your yard? Do you have any native plants? With development and habitat loss, there are increasing pressures on wildlife. If everybody just planted one native plant, that's a start. In a suburban jungle one native tree may be fruiting, while in another there is pollen and nectar attracting bugs and caterpillars. That is what they need to eat. It's like you going to the store and there is only cat food there. What are you going to eat? Birds need fresh water, and cover too, so they may hide from predators.
Owls can be a great source for natural pest control and it is free. No pesticide service or poison filled plastic boxes needed! Screech owls feed on all sorts of bugs, cockroaches, lizards, beetles, moths and rodents. Whatever they can see, catch in the air or pounce on is fair game. Spraying for bugs eliminates a food source. Owls can also be threatened by pest control of the another kind… rat traps containing poison are a huge problem. The rat entering the box does not just eat the poison and die there, they eat the poison, then leave the trap, to slowly die from the effects wherever they wander off to. Unfortunately for the birds of prey such as the owl, or the hawk, that same poison does not discriminate between the rat, and the bird that just ate the rat.
For all of us, birds alert us to seasonal shifts like migration, teach us about communication, and the cycle of life through behaviors like predation, mating and nesting. Screech owls mate in late fall, and you can hear their noises. The baby owlets emerge from the nesting boxes in April or early May.
Nature is the Law. It makes me want to get up early in the morning and keep going. The ecosystem is provided free of charge, no accessories required. And the benefits are lower rates of anxiety, depression and stress.
This photographic website provides me the opportunity for self-expression, for sharing