Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Trouble in Paradise

For the first time--I need to illustrate this tale with photos from the Internet. There is no way my peanut camera can reach high enough into the trees.

We have had a summer free of predators, thanks to the early live trapping, and it has made the island bird heaven. Particularly grateful were the Cedar Waxwings, who grew from a small nesting family to a flock of nearly fifty birds through the summer. They are amazing in their behavior--as they are almost completely noiseless. They stay high in the trees, presumably feeding on insects, as there are no berries up there, and I can see their wings flapping, but without a sound. They make no calls either, but perform as ghosts in the tree tops every morning for us around breakfast. After that, where they go is a mystery.

On this day, however, the morning was marred by the presence of the dean of predators--a Red Shouldered Hawk. He also works high in the tree tops, and he changed the equation on this island paradise forever. His first pass took out a Cedar Waxwing, with feathers all over the side yard as proof. After that, he began diving on the ducks, which give you an idea of his massive size. And so, as I write this, we are an island without ducks and without Cedar Waxwings.

The squirrels took this all in from some hidden observation post. They were gone for an hour or two, and are now back.

The equation of nature never seems balanced on this island--the pendulum swings from too many predators to too much prey--what will be the next chapter?