Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Cool, Damp Day

We've been getting so much rain lately, and this may explain why the toads and frogs are so noisy. Toads and frogs are supposed to bring on the rain, according to folklore. They have obviously been very busy with this task. It is a cool, damp day and we are supposed to have thunderstorms all evening. I'm sure the toads will be very happy.

My cousin in Florida has a much larger variety of toad on her property than what I've seen outside my door. She has Cane toads, which are native to South and Central America. Cane toads were introduced further north to help control bugs as they have a voracious appetite. They have poison glands and their tadpoles are also poisonous.

It is possible that I have a cane toad on the property, though I haven't seen one. My stepson was in the garage a few nights ago when he heard a banging sound on the door. At first, he thought someone was knocking, but since it was close to midnight, the thought of someone knocking on the door was a little curious. He slowly, carefully opened the door and found a large toad staring up at him. The toad quickly hopped away before he could get a good look at its color and patterns.

The squirrels don't seem to mind the rain. I've noticed that they use their tails like umbrellas when it's sprinkling outside. They don't stop nibbling on the corn cobs or the sunflower seeds, they simply flip their tails up their back so the tip of their tails cover their heads like hairy umbrellas. They rarely stop eating, unless the rain is heavy or hail starts to fall. They will munch and munch, even when thunder shakes and rattles the tree branches.

This morning, I saw two more painted buntings in the seed dishes. These birds are quite stunning with their green wings, blue heads and red bodies. Painted buntings are in the cardinal family and some people say they are the most beautiful birds in America. I believe that all the birds fluttering around my house are beautiful. Painted buntings are also supposed to be shy and secretive, and difficult to see. I have no problem spotting these birds lately. They seem to be very happy here, though they do fly away before I can get a picture. They have interesting eating habits. They like to climb into the seed dishes and stand inside to eat rather than leaning over the edge like the other birds, but they are smaller than the cardinals, too. They appear to be half the size of a cardinal.

My dogs chased a bunny through the yard this morning. I don't think they actually believe they will ever catch a bunny because they start barking and yipping long before they even get close to the poor little creatures, giving advance warning of their presence. I do not think we will have a rabbit's nest on the property this year, though. They generally prefer a large hole beneath one of the trees, and I noticed that the garter snake has taken over this hole as his new home.

The baby birds in the nest beneath the umbrella are beginning to stick their heads up. They are very quiet. Most of the time you can only see the fuzzy tops of their heads, but once in awhile their little beaks poke over the sides of the nest. I have posted a picture of the nest to the right. The baby birds aren't visible in the picture, but they will be soon. They are growing very fast!

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