The Notes of Summer

July 1

Bluebirds feeding five babies in the nest box

July 4
The male bluebird has vanished. Not sure if he’s establishing a new territory or fell victim to a hawk or cat. The female has been working overtime feeding her babies during some rainy weather. I helped out a little by providing her with mealworms.

July 8
Still no sign of the male bluebird.

July 11
Watched two young loons on the lake seemingly indifferent to jet skis and boats passing within 40 feet of them. Neither loon dove under the surface. They may have been confused by the traffic. The boaters seemed oblivious, unaware they were so close to the loons.

The first baby bluebird fledged. It barely made it to a stump 10 feet from the next box. The female was there in an instant to feed it. After a brief rest, it struggled to fly 30 more feet and made it up to a branch.

July 13
All five bluebirds have flown from the nest box. Five eggs were laid by June 14, all five hatched by June 26, and all five left the box just one month after the eggs were laid.

July 21
While I was swimming in the lake today a juvenile loon surfaced 50 feet away. It quickly dove, and to my surprise resurfaced only 15 feet away from me. After sharing startled looks with each other, it plunged and headed for deeper water. (The best photo ops always happen when I don’t have my camera.)

July 23
Female cardinal was feeding one of her brood while both were perched on a sunflower. The sunflower was a volunteer from seed that fell to the ground below my winter bird feeder.

July 26
The month of July has been hot. The hot weather is often blamed for the seeming disappearance of song birds, but they are actually keeping a low profile because they are molting (replacing worn out feathers). During the molt they are vulnerable because the emerging feathers are not full length and have gaps that make them less powerful and maneuverable in flight. They’re not seen much because they’re hiding in vegetation.

August 5
Hen turkey in the yard with only two poults. Because of the wet spring there was a poor hatch.

August 7
Hummingbird moth was busy all day taking nectar from our butterfly bush.

August 12
Watched a dragonfly capture a silver-spotted skipper and devour it.

August 13
While poking around High Tor swamp at the south end of Canandaigua Lake, I witnessed a large watersnake capture and then consume a green frog. By the time I was able to photograph the encounter, the frog was only a bump in the snake’s body.

August 18
Schools of large golden shiners were in close to shore today. I used meal worms to catch them, and later used the shiners as bait to catch bass.

August 27
Calm and humid today. There was a huge hatch of flying ants over the lake and both ring-billed gulls and shiners had a feeding frenzy, plucking them from the air and from the surface of the water.

August 29
Longhorn locust borer beetles, which attack black locust trees, have been feeding on the pollen of goldenrod blossoms for the past few days.


by Bill Banaszewski