Limited Interests

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TanteLoe — Pixabay

The Ragtag Daily Prompt today: WINDBAG
The Word of the Day Challenge: FUTILE

My response shall be this tale.

The Ornithologist

At the family picnic our cousin Devern’s new bride, Chloe was warmly welcomed by everyone in our extended family circle. At the picnic table I noticed that she sat next to great-uncle Herb, so I sat across from them in case she needed a little help. Uncle Herb wasn’t the greatest conversationalist.

As we all enjoyed our food, I heard Chloe ask Uncle Herb, “So, who do you think will win the presidential election this fall?”

Oh dear.

His noncommittal response was, “I won’t even try to guess.”

She seemed taken aback; nevertheless she made another stab at it. “At this point it’s pretty hard to predict, I guess. Who do you think Joe Biden will choose as his running mate?”

“I doubt it will matter much. Politicians are all about the same.”

Looking a little miffed, Chloe glanced at me and I gave her a sympathetic smile. She didn’t know Uncle Herb yet.

I leaned forward. “Say, Uncle Herb, I saw a bird in our yard yesterday, small and brownish with a lighter breast. It had a short tail that kind of stuck up. A wren, wouldn’t you say?”

“Oh, yes. Very likely, if its tail was short, somewhat blunt, and pointed up. A dusky flycatcher is small and brown, too, but its tail’s longer, more tapered. House wrens and duskies both have a ring around the eye and you may confuse the two by that, but the dusky is slightly larger, 5 3/4”. Also, duskies have a rather yellow belly and clear white wing bars, where the wren’s belly is creamy and its bars, on both wings and tail, are smaller black and brown. Look more like ripples. However, the upright tail will give the wren away every time. And its song, of course.

“Now, as to what kind of a wren… If its back was definitely brown and barred, it was a house wren. A sedge wren is much like a house wren, slightly smaller, only 4 ½”, but it doesn’t have that distinguishing thin ring of white around its eye. Also, a sedge wren’s throat is whiter and the belly more orange. Did you happen to get a good look at its throat or belly?”

“Um.. No. It was in the bushes and…”

“Too bad. Now, marsh wrens are slightly lighter in color and clearly distinguished by a line above the eye, going from the beak to the back of the head. Winter wrens are smaller than a house wren, though; a house wren is 4 3/4″ whereas a winter wren is only four inches. But winter wrens nest in the pine forests of northern Canada, so you’ll rarely see one here, except in migration. They don’t have a clear line above the eye, either.”

“I hope I get another chance to see it.” I also hoped to think of some topic that would stop Uncle Herb’s ornithological flow.

Suddenly he turned back to Chloe. “What kind of birds have you observed?”

She searched for an answer. “Er… Robins. I’ve seen robins.”

“Robins?” Uncle Herb looked puzzled. “Is that all? Surely you’ve seen other birds.”

Chloe got that deer-in-the-headlights look. “Uh… And pigeons. And sparrows. I’ve seen lots of sparrows.”

“Are you referring to native sparrows or English sparrows?” His tone was rather demanding.

Uh-oh! I knew where this was going.

Sadly, poor Chloe had no clue. “Is there a difference,” she asked.

“There certainly is.” The glare Uncle Herb gave her would have frosted the Sahara.

Seeing her wilt under his disapproval, I jumped up and said, “Want to come with me, Chloe? I think Mom’s ready to set the desserts out. I think she’ll need our help.”

“Sure!” She sprang from her chair and hurried to join me. We headed for the food table and stood beside it, since desserts weren’t being set out yet.

Chloe sighed. “I had no idea he’d be so passionate about sparrows?”

“Yeah. You’ll get the cold shoulder talking politics with Uncle Herb, but he’s a real windbag if you get him on the subject of birds. I guess we all know him by now and humor him if we can, or find somewhere else to be if he gets going full throttle. Don’t worry. You’ll catch on.”

Chloe chuckled. “Guess all families have them. Once my Uncle Tim gets started on state versus federal authority he can expound for hours. We’ve tried redirecting him but it’s futile. He has to wind down on his own.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.” I gave her a big grin.

Wren in shrub cropped

Shoot the Things!

The Ragtag Daily Prompt for today:  ENOUGH!
The Word of the Day Challenge:  USUAL
Sue’s Jibber Jabber prompt word: HISTORY
Fandango’s One-Word ChallengeBABY
And here’s my response — an oft-beaten drum of mine:

Down with Imports!

I’d like to meet the fellow who thought we needed English sparrows here in Canada. I’d like him to know just what havoc he has wrought, how badly these aggressively invasive pests have decimated the native population. Already at risk because man has taken over their native land, our local birds also have to contend with these invasive imports. Add starlings to this list, too.

Some of my current grief is our own fault, I will admit. Last winter we thought we’d put out a feeder for chickadees, woodpeckers, nuthatches — all those cute birds that do linger here over winter. And what did we get? Oodles of English sparrows. Unlike the native birds, they have no idea of migrating, no native southern winter region.

This spring when my tree swallows returned, the sparrows were still hanging around even though we’d quit putting out feed a month before. One pair claimed one of the nest boxes we’ve set up for swallows. Another pair took over the swallow house on the north side of our house. One pair of swallows looked like they’d hang onto the south-side nest. But no. The sparrows drove them out, too. I only hope they didn’t kill the swallows as they are wont to do. I was furious when I found a dead swallow in the nest two years ago; the sparrows just built on top of their victim.

Enough! It’s too late to provide nests for the swallows and I don’t want a bunch of starving baby birds around our yard, so I’ll leave things as they are until summer’s over. But once our usual birds have left I’m inviting my grandsons over with their rifles and we can have a Sparrow Liquidation.

Invasive Species Still Coming

This is my personal grief, but others in this area have had grief because some light-bulbs thought they could import wild boars for sport hunting. The creatures thrived; with no natural enemies they soon took over woodlands. Now to get rid of them! A few years back our menfolk had a giant boar hunt and killed as many as they could. But the creatures have great instincts for survival.

History is full of examples of species brought over from “the old country” to become a horrible nuisance in a new world. Rabbits in Australia, for one. And Canada geese. Fine here, but they aren’t wanted in Australia. Anacondas in the Everglades are the product of exotic pet sales. Ditto with the piranhas dumped in the Southern lakes and rivers.

Some people have no comprehension as to what they’ll do when the reptile or fish they wanted as a “novelty pet” gets too big — or the owner has to move — or whatever. But our governments should be able to learn from history and ban the import of exotic creatures.

And they have, to some extent. But if some teenager wants a Komodo dragon because it’s “rare and unique,” somebody else will find a way to capture one and smuggle it in. And this is really sad, because how many little ones will die in risky transit methods?

I read an interesting new item one time: a woman coming in by plane was stopped at US customs and it was discovered she had fourteen rare baby lizards — illegal to import — stuffed in her blouse. Destined for sale as rare pets. Two stars for SANGFROID; five stars for INANITY.

Save the native flora and fauna from extinction!
Ban the import of exotic species.

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Imagae by Schwoaze  —  Pixabay

Lush, Luscious, or Just Drippy?

The Ragtag Daily Prompt today is LUSCIOUS

I wrote a nice post once, but hit the wrong button from the choices above and my post disappeared in the twinkling of an eye. Rats!

So again, I chose this prompt word several weeks ago and scheduled my post, but today we’re not thinking of luscious. We had heavy rain in the night, over two inches in the past 24 hours, so the outdoors is very soggy this afternoon. But it was so needed that I think everyone in this area is rejoicing — except maybe the weekend campers. Wouldn’t be nice in a tend having that much rain pouring over your heads.

The sky is still filled with lumpy, long-hanging clouds, but the sky’s getting lighter and we’ll probably have sunshine tomorrow, and the prairie will have a lush green appearance. Farmers will be smiling cheerfully. Awhile ago I heard a little wren singing his heart out from the woods beside us, and robins are perusing the lawn, grabbing whichever end of the worm is sticking out. We might turn up our noses, but to a bird, a worm is a luscious creature. For the worm, however…

Life can be so stressful at the bottom of the pecking order:

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Image by kirillslov at Pixabay