Saturday, February 11, 2012

Early Morning Balloon Launch, Crows, and Romantic Birds

It was a warm, breezy morning and the skies over Rio Rancho were filled with wispy clouds, chattering birds, and hot air balloons. I counted forty, but there were quite a few moving north toward Corrales and hidden by the trees. The clouds seemed to be playing with the balloons, reaching out for them, whisking them from mountain top to mountain top, pushing them from one side of the sky to the other. Two of the balloons turned to the west, then headed south again, landing somewhere in our neighborhood.

While I watched the balloons, I noticed a crow flying overhead. Crows are very noisy when they fly through the neighborhood. You can hear them from a long way off and the sound tells you if they're coming toward you or moving further away, but this one was flying in circles through the neighborhood. The crows like to sit in the tall evergreens on the opposite side of the arroyo that runs behind our house. They also like to sit on the lamp post where the hawks sometimes land. They have a better view of the neighborhood this way.

Crows are opportunistic eaters, like Road Runners. They will eat anything they can find. I put some seed out on the wall near the road where they like to fly, but the crow caught something instead. It appeared to be a mouse. I don't like watching animals eat live food, but it's part of nature, and so much better than seeing creatures hit by cars--it's the circle of life. The crow actually carried its prey to the top of the lamp post to eat it.

As I watched the balloons, I also photographed the birds behind me. They are more comfortable with me now and allow me to stand much closer. It's been an interesting bird-watching week. Each day, I have spotted a new species of bird. This morning's new bird appears to be a type of finch. It has a silver beak and tangerine stripes on its head. It likes the swinging bird feeder. There was a female finch sitting in the bird feeder and the male with the striped head kept hopping comfortably around her so it's possible they're a mated pair. It's that time of year--romance is in the air, even in the swinging bird feeders!

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