February 3, 2018

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By Jo Cleland

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Extra resources for Achoo!

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The cowbird is remarkably successful in foisting her young upon her chosen foster family. Or, put another way, the host species are remarkably willing to raise the alien young. A question remains as to just how devastating this parasitism is to the host’s own young. In what Audubon describes as a “remarkable occurrence,” once the cowbird egg hatches, the parent birds, “finding a helpless object, for whose subsistence it behooves them to provide,” immediately set about the job of feeding it. ” Forbush is equally fatalistic.

Except for those little bitty feet. 33 Scarlet Tanager and Summer Tanager Piranga olivacea and Piranga rubra I’d have to agree with most birdwatchers that, of the two tanagers that summer in my woods, the scarlet is the more striking. With its vermilion body and jet-black wings, it’s a fabulous-looking bird. When one deigned to sip from my birdbath on a bright sunny morning this past April, then ascended regally to its normal habitat high in the treetops, my heart lifted with it. ” (By the way, Piranga, a native name for a South American bird, was co-opted by French naturalist Vieillot to denote this species.

Their route takes them through Tampa, and they spend the daylight hours resting and refueling. Food is already plentiful there in late April: bugs everywhere. Another night or two in the sky brings them to the panhandle, to the pretty coastal village of St. Elizabeth, where they rest again. They don’t have too much farther to go before they reach their summer home, maybe in the beautiful mountains of northeastern Tennessee, but they have one more stop to make: my forty-acre wood in northwestern Georgia.

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Achoo! by Jo Cleland


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