Good afternoon, friends. This is a tale of birds and caterpillars.
It just so happens, that in the beginning of this week, I was walking with Caleb, Seth, and Sarah and we discovered a *new to us* bird. It was deeper into the woods, near the adventure trail, on the ground drinking from a small stream. As we came upon it, it flew up into a tree close enough for us to see it in detail. Later that day, I found that it was a yellow-billed cuckoo. I was not able to get a good photo of it, so if you would like to see it you can find a picture and an article here. They are known as “Tent Caterpillar birds” because they eat the hairy caterpillars that are so numerous in the woods these days.
I first noticed this year’s caterpillar outbreak at Little League. They were crawling in large numbers up the side of the dugouts. Seth said “they were everywhere”. Sarah was morbidly interested but would not touch them. I wasn’t concerned in the least…but I am now.
Why? you ask? Well, the very day that the children and I went a’walking, I was puzzled by the sound of raindrops falling from the leaves of the trees. I could not understand how the leaves had gotten so drippy-wet, and also: I wasn’t getting any rain drops on MYSELF.
Today I was walking down the road with my cup of coffee when I heard *the sound* coming from the woods again. I went into the house to put down my cup and get the girls. We needed to solve a mystery.
And what we noticed was, in almost every place we looked, we could see at least one growing and munching caterpillar. The woods were alive with the sound of pitter pat droppings, not of rain, but of caterpillar POO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Tiny, hard bits of poo. Everywhere. Dropping on the floor of the forest. They were most easy to see, caught in spider webs.
I went online to research, just in case I was crazy. Maybe the little hard brown bits were seeds? Maybe? But I quickly found this article.
“The caterpillars are harmless – but they do like to eat. You can see the buffet of half-eaten leaves on the ground, constantly falling from trees.
“You can actually hear the activity,” Grigoriou said. ‘It sounds like rain.'”
~Matt Scott for Fox 61 news
The activity that sounds like rain happens to be a vast amount of waste product falling from the very hungry caterpillars which cannot stop eating and therefore cannot stop pooping.
Caterpillars of various sizes are all over the place in the woods.
crawling and creeping and haunting
up and down tree trunks
big trees and little trees
they’re everywhere (insert spooky voice here)
eating and eating and eating and eating
and….dropping and dropping and dropping and dropping
Is it nature’s fertilizer?
millions of these little poop balls are littering the ground
along with leaf bits that have been chewed away and lost off of the trees
NEVER IN ALL MY DAYS!!!!!
I’m rather amazed by it all…..and I hope you are, too.
Yesterday we had a pair of ducks on our pond all day long, they were quite a delight to see. The girls and I sat together and watched them.
We had conversations about monogamy, orange feet, how ducks communicate, nests and eggs, and what they must think of us, and do they like it here, will they live here and raise a family, and so on.
Later on that evening, I was watering and weeding the garden when I heard the unmistakeable sound of an Osprey.
Sure enough, I looked up just in time to see one alight in the dead tree with a fresh fish in it’s strong legs. (it was wearing white pants) I ran into the house to get my camera crying out, “Our pond is a bird-feeder!!” and the children followed me out of doors. Rich mourned the loss of another one of HIS fish to wildlife and not a fishing hook.
Look at the legs on this bird! It’s wings look like a cape.
The (poor) fish was flying.