Malachite

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Malachite butterfly. Malachite is a semi-precious green gemstone.

 Owl butterflies are crepuscular— active at dawn and dusk.

Owl butterflies are crepuscular— active at dawn and dusk.

 An Australian butterfly called a clipper.

An Australian butterfly called a clipper.

An obvious feature of an earwig is the pair of pincers or forceps at the tip of the abdomen. Both sexes have these pincers; in males they are large and curved, whereas they’re straight in females.

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 The tiger swallowtail’s caterpillars resemble bird droppings.

The tiger swallowtail’s caterpillars resemble bird droppings.

 I try to pet a bumblebee each morning. It doesn’t appear to bother the bee and it delights me.

I try to pet a bumblebee each morning. It doesn’t appear to bother the bee and it delights me.

 Bumblebees have longer antennae than the flies that mimic them.

Bumblebees have longer antennae than the flies that mimic them.

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A blue jay bald due to an abnormal molt.

 A native, solitary bee nesting box.

A native, solitary bee nesting box.

 A native, solitary bee will fill an entire tunnel of this nest box with eggs and plug the tunnel entrance with mud, leaf pieces, or other vegetation. A bee hotel like this is a swell gift for a gardener.

A native, solitary bee will fill an entire tunnel of this nest box with eggs and plug the tunnel entrance with mud, leaf pieces, or other vegetation. A bee hotel like this is a swell gift for a gardener.

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A Chicago pigeon sees what’s on the menu.

A Chicago pigeon seeing what is on the menu.

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 Feeling too fluffy to fly.

Feeling too fluffy to fly.

 The common birdwing is an Asian butterfly that can be found at Reiman Gardens in Ames, Iowa.

The common birdwing is an Asian butterfly that can be found at Reiman Gardens in Ames, Iowa.

 The Atlas moth, an Asian species, has a wingspan of up to over 11 inches.  Seen at Reiman Gardens in Ames, Iowa. Atlas was the Titan responsible for holding up the heavens.

The Atlas moth, an Asian species, has a wingspan of up to over 11 inches.

Seen at Reiman Gardens in Ames, Iowa. Atlas was the Titan responsible for holding up the heavens.

 Atlas moth redux.

Atlas moth redux.

 The crimson-patch longwing (red postman) can be found in southern Texas.

The crimson-patch longwing (red postman) can be found in southern Texas.

 My wife chewed me out for hanging around the Wrigley Building in Chicago.

My wife chewed me out for hanging around the Wrigley Building in Chicago.

Al Batt: Why are moths attracted to lights? How much do pelicans weigh?

by Al Batt, albertleatribune.comJuly 14, 2018 09:00 AMCow slobbers are prettier than one may think. Al Batt/Albert Lea Tribune

Al Batt of Hartland is a member of the Albert Lea Audubon Society. Email him at SnoEowl@aol.com.

The guy from just down the road

My neighbor Crandall stops by.

“How are you doing?” I ask.

“Everything is nearly copacetic. Ma and Pop’s wedding anniversary is on the horizon. They wanted to get married right out of high school, but Pop wanted to buy a farm first. It took him 10 years to save up enough money to do that. That was a good thing.”

“How was that a good thing?” I wonder aloud.

“Because if they’d gotten married right out of school, I’d be 10 years older. I had a visitor from Minneapolis who said she wanted to paint my barn. I was getting ready to haggle when she explained that she wanted to make a painting of it. I told her to knock herself out. She asked what kind of cows mine were. I told her that they were a rare breed of natural weather predictors. Of course, she asked me what I meant by that. I explained that when the cows are standing, it means no rain is likely for the next 24 hours. And when they’re lying down, it means it’s going to rain within in a day. There is always one more question and hers was, ‘Half your herd is standing and the other half is lying down. What does that mean?’“

“That’s a good question,“ I interject.

“And I had the perfect answer for her. It meant half of the cows were wrong.”

Naturally

I was birding and looking at flowers. Spiderwort is such a lovely flower. Cow slobbers is what I called it when I was a boy because the flowers bloom early in the day, then wilt into a jelly-like substance. The striking flowers appear in small clusters, with new buds opening each day. Wort comes from the Anglo-Saxon wyrt meaning “herb” or “root,” and spider derives either from a belief that they’d cure spider bites or the spidery shape of its stamens.

It was a beautiful green July day, but I already missed June. June is the reward we’re given for putting up with January. I wanted to see ants on the peonies again. Ants on the Peonies would be a great band name. I wanted to shuffle through the drifts of cottonwood seed once more. David George Haskell wrote this about cottonwoods, “Over its lifetime a parent tree releases 2+ billion seeds to the wind. On average, one seed makes it.“

There was no breeze. It’s place had been taken by hungry mosquitoes. I picked raspberries. There was a good crop. Good raspberries, bad mosquitoes. That’s the rule. I ate mulberries I’d plucked along with the raspberries. The world goes quickly from shoots to fruits.

Blue jays scolded as other birds moved about silently, trying to make a living. Turkey vultures floated overhead as if they were fleeting dreams or disembodied souls.

A ruby-throated hummingbird male moved slightly, enough to catch the light just right and cause an iridescence to play upon his throat.

A flower opened to the sun, perfect in its imperfection. I plucked a floret from the flowerhead of a red clover plant and tasted the sweetness of its nectar. I looked for four-leaf clovers. A fellow can never have too much good luck. I’d seen research that said there is one four-leaf clover for every 5,000 three-leaf clovers.

Q&A

“Why do moths fly around lights?” It’s unclear exactly why they visit lights, but here is a theory. Moths use moonlight to find their way in the dark. Artificial lights might interfere with their internal navigational equipment, confusing the moths. This may cause  a moth to fly in circles around an artificial light in an attempt to maintain its flight path.

“Why are they called dabbling ducks?” A dabbling duck is a shallow water duck that feeds primarily along the surface of the water or by tipping headfirst into the water to graze on aquatic plants, vegetation and insects. It dabbles. They are infrequent divers and species include mallards, wood ducks, blue-winged teal, northern shovelers and others.

“How much does a pelican weigh?” An American white pelican weighs 10 to 20 pounds. It looks bigger than that because of its 9-foot wingspan.

Thanks  for stopping by

“But solitude is only a human presumption. Every quiet step is thunder to beetle life underfoot; every choice is a world made new for the chosen. All secrets are witnessed.” — Barbara Kingsolver

“Years ago I had a Buddhist teacher in Thailand who would remind all his students that there was always something to be thankful for. He’d say, ‘Let’s rise and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we may have learned a little. And if we didn’t learn even a little, at least we didn’t get sick. And if we did get sick, at least we didn’t die. So let us all be thankful.’” — Leo Buscaglia

Do good.

 

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Al Batt: Other states may get naming nods, but no birds have Minnesota moniker

byAl Batt,albertleatribune.com

July 7, 2018 09:00 AM

Al Batt of Hartland is a member of the Albert Lea Audubon Society. Email him at SnoEowl@aol.com.

My neighbor Crandall stops by.

“How are you doing?” I ask.

“Everything is nearly copacetic. I gave Pop a computer, but he gave it back. He doesn’t want a computer until one can be taught how to catch a walleye. Ma doesn’t mind when Pop forgets to zip up his fly. At least that means he remembered to wear pants. My cousin Clancy was supposed to be here in March. He didn’t show up until June. Daylight saving time messes him up. I was going to turn on the air conditioning, but it was too hot to do even that. On a terrible hot day, I remember the words to an old song that goes something like this, ‘It ain’t no sin to take off your skin and dance around in your bones.’ Clancy is like my neighbor Still Bill, he couldn’t get out of his own way. Still Bill isn’t lazy; he just doesn’t want to do everything and then end up with nothing to do when he retires. Still Bill, who once lost a race with a glacier, has a cast on his foot.”

“Oh, no! Did he break it?” I ask.

“No, he stepped in a bucket of cement.”

Naturally

I’d been out the door at 4 in the morning. I’d awakened without an alarm clock, as I tend to do when I look forward to something. The morning’s fog exceeded the fog in my brain, but there were birds that needed counting. They were counting on me. I did a Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) in June. I’ve been doing the same route for many years and it was good being back in the counting saddle after missing the BBS last year when I was on the disabled list.

I counted birds for three minutes each at 50 regular stops. At one stop, I watched a fox squirrel walk down a farm drive and right up to my car. It gave me a baleful look while sitting up on its rear legs. Apparently satisfied that I was a harmless man who had been fairly warned, the squirrel ambled back up the drive from whence it had come. It was obviously a watch squirrel.

I watched five wild turkeys walk bean rows. I’d done the same thing when I was a young turkey. Several sandhill cranes flew over. They had nested there for some years. I was pleased to see them. The day was filled with newly minted robins.

Butterfly weed, a much more vivid orange color than a monarch butterfly, demanded my attention. Orange isn’t an exceedingly common color in nature this time of the year. Daisy fleabane presented more rays per flowerhead than I could count.

Days earlier, I’d stood transfixed as a red-winged blackbird male flew down from a tree and landed on the back of a Canada goose gander. The gander was in the company of his missus and a few goslings. Ganders are particularly aggressive in that case, but this gander put his head down and rushed to the water of a pond as the blackbird rode along as if he were in a saddle, pecking and prodding the gander on his way. The goslings and the missus waddled behind. Once in the water, the gander was freed of his tormentor. I hoped the goslings would one day be able to look again at their father as if he were all-powerful.

Q&A

“Is there a bird named after Minnesota?” No, but there should be. Something like the Minnesota minnow heron, Minnesota timber hawk or Minnesota casino crow. There are a number of birds that carry a state as their first names. California (condor, gnatcatcher, gull, quail, scrub-jay, thrasher and towhee), Connecticut warbler, Florida scrub-jay, Kentucky warbler, Louisiana waterthrush, Mississippi Kite, Tennessee warbler and Virginia rail. There are also two with Carolina as a first name — Chickadee and wren. There is a Virginia’s warbler, but it carries the woman’s name that discovered the bird.

“What bird holds the record for the longest legs in relation to body length?” The flamingo is the likely winner with one of the five species of stilts coming in second. The ostrich was in the running.

Tom Belshan of Glenville asked what the caterpillar of the cecropia moth eats. The cecropia moth (robin moth) is North America’s largest native moth, with a wingspan approaching 6 inches. The caterpillar, as long as 4.5 inches, feeds on the leaves of hardwood trees such as: Birch, boxelder, cherry, elm, hawthorn, linden, maple, oak, poplar and willow. Cecropia moth adults don’t eat. A good number of people have reported seeing these lovely moths this year.

Earl Jacobsen

I bid farewell to Earl Jacobsen of Albert Lea. Jake had been a humble servant of the Albert Lea Audubon Society and many other organizations for years. He did so with grace. He loved the earth and the sky. As the rain poured down onto the roof at my friend’s funeral, the minister said, “Listen to the beauty of nature.”

Thanks for stopping by

“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.“ — Confucius

“Each life is made up of mistakes and learning, waiting and growing, practicing patience.“ — Billy Graham

Do good.

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Cecropia moth photo by Al Batt

This scarlet tanager be jamming.

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 Sandhill crane and colt.

Sandhill crane and colt.

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 Young American crows have blue eyes.

Young American crows have blue eyes.

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 American robin eggs are robin-egg blue. Go figure.

American robin eggs are robin-egg blue. Go figure.

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I stumbled upon this young thing in May.

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It was almost impossible to get her to sign a model release form.

A shorebird that doesn’t go to the beach. A killdeer and her eggs.

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 A common nighthawk feeds on flying insects as high as 500 feet in the air.

A common nighthawk feeds on flying insects as high as 500 feet in the air.

 A great crested flycatcher sometimes weaves a snakeskin, onion skin, cellophane or plastic wrapper into its nest.

A great crested flycatcher sometimes weaves a snakeskin, onion skin, cellophane or plastic wrapper into its nest.

 Truth in labeling.

Truth in labeling.

 A turkey vulture enjoying a meal provided by an SUV.

A turkey vulture enjoying a meal provided by an SUV.

 This tree frog found purchase on an odd branch of a strange limb.

This tree frog found purchase on an odd branch of a strange limb.

 I was excited to see an ivory-billed woodpecker. Even if it was in a painting.

I was excited to see an ivory-billed woodpecker. Even if it was in a painting.

I know right where I saw this eastern kingbird.

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 I heard someone refer to the eastern kingbird as a bee martin.

I heard someone refer to the eastern kingbird as a bee martin.

 The superstition is that the earwig crawls into the ears of sleeping people.

The superstition is that the earwig crawls into the ears of sleeping people.

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 Pop feeds a fledgling.

Pop feeds a fledgling.

 A young cardinal has a black bill. Adults have red-orange bills.

A young cardinal has a black bill. Adults have red-orange bills.

 I stopped to look at a tree because trees are well worth looking at. Who knows? I might discover a tree unicorn or a leaf phoenix.

I stopped to look at a tree because trees are well worth looking at. Who knows? I might discover a tree unicorn or a leaf phoenix.

Up a tree

Al Batt: Up a tree: Female mallard’s nesting spot more unusual than usual

By Al Batt

Email the author

Published 9:00 am Saturday, June 30, 2018You have read 8 of 10 articles.

Al Batt of Hartland is a member of the Albert Lea Audubon Society. Email him at SnoEowl@aol.com.

My neighbor Crandall stops by.

“How are you doing?” I ask.

“Everything is nearly copacetic. I’m trying to catch up on my loafing, but that’s not easy for someone known as the LeBron James of farming. I had a big bowl of mini-doughnuts for breakfast. I figured if Cheerios were good for me, these would be even better. You know, if I were Bill Gates, I’d be richer than he is.”

“What do you mean? How could you be richer?” I say.

“I’d still do a little farming on the side.”

Naturally

It’s summer, the hot season of our year. Summer comes from the Old English sumor, from the Proto-Germanic sumur, Old Saxon sumar, Old Norse sumar, Old High German sumar, Old Frisian sumur, Middle Dutch somer, Dutch zomer and German sommer.

A robin had begun singing at 4 in the morning. The bird had a strong work ethic. Each season of every year, I watch birds come and go. They are the heartbeats of the world and weave wonder into my life.

It was nearly bird-melting hot as I walked wet ground. Sedges have edges and clamorous sedge wrens. Insects hadn’t thoroughly bested me, but the deer flies were unrelenting as they tormented me. They go for the head and neck when biting people, inflicting a painful bite using knife-like mouthparts to slice the skin and feed on blood. Fortunately, deer flies aren’t a disease vector here, but some people suffer allergic reactions to the bites. In addition to humans, these biting flies also attack cattle, deer and horses. Deer flies are most common in June and July.

I visited a county park just to listen to the ethereal, flute-like songs of the wood thrush. Thoreau wrote of the wood thrush, “This is the only bird whose note affects me like music, affects the flow and tenor of my thought, my fancy and imagination. It lifts and exhilarates me. It is inspiring. It is a medicative draught to my soul. It is an elixir to my eyes and a fountain of youth to all my senses. It changes all hours to an eternal morning. I long for wildness, a nature which I cannot put my foot through, woods where the wood thrush forever sings, where the hours are early morning ones, and there is dew on the grass, and the day is forever unproved, where I might have a fertile unknown for a soil about me.”

Thoreau was singing my song.

Dave Lewis from Ohio told me that he had collection of photographs of fake owls on docks. He said they must be attracted to boats. I saw three on a dock recently. The imitation owls are like pet rocks. They do no good and they do no harm.

A cat prowled nearby. Australia has built the world’s longest cat-proof fence, hoping the 27-mile fence bordering the Newhaven Wildlife Sanctuary will help save endangered animals like the mala, a type of small wallaby, from feral cats. Researchers estimate that cats kill over a million birds each day in Australia.

I walked a trail in Wisconsin as winter wrens sang loud and endlessly. Three male scarlet tanagers landed on a log. Their vivid red colors made good company for the wren serenade. Good news of the family kind arrived via cellphone. We don’t get many perfect days. That was one. I was and am most thankful.

Q&A

Jill and Jerry Morstad of Albert Lea have a mallard hen nesting in one of their trees and wondered if that was common or if it was just a weird duck. As a weird duck myself, I understand weird ducks. Mallards nest in odd places, typically on the ground, but uncommonly in trees. The buck duck provides no assistance in incubating or duckling duties.

“How much does a fawn weigh at birth?” A white-tailed deer fawn weighs 5 to 8 pounds.

“How many times per second do hummingbird’s wings beat?“ The more than 300 hummingbird species found in North and South America flap their wings from 12 to 90 times per second.

“What is a flock of orioles called?” A group of orioles is collectively known as a pitch or a split of orioles.

“Do cowbirds eat insects off cows?” Maybe they do occasionally, but brown-headed cowbirds feed mostly on larger insects such as grasshoppers and beetles stirred into movement by cattle. Cowbirds also feed on seeds and grain.

“When could I expect to see baby skunks?” Eastern striped skunks give birth to a litter of four to six in May or early June. We begin seeing the babies (kits) when they are seven weeks old. Skunklets would be a perfect name for them.

Thanks for stopping by

“Stop letting people who do so little for you control so much of your mind, feelings and emotions.”— Will Smith

“If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere.” — Laura Ingalls Wilder

Do good.

The silver medal winner in the Crow Olympics refused to appear at the awards ceremony. Crows are notoriously poor losers.

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 Even in the fog, the wind turbines were busily producing wind.

Even in the fog, the wind turbines were busily producing wind.

 A fox squirrel looking for a snake in the grass.

A fox squirrel looking for a snake in the grass.

 Whether you call it a haymow or a hayloft, this old barn is lovely and that ain’t hay.

Whether you call it a haymow or a hayloft, this old barn is lovely and that ain’t hay.

 A marsh wren has been called the Heinz 57 Varieties Bird because of the many variations of its song.

A marsh wren has been called the Heinz 57 Varieties Bird because of the many variations of its song.

 Apparently, this dead tree stabbed the shelf fungus. It’s a zombie tree.

Apparently, this dead tree stabbed the shelf fungus. It’s a zombie tree.

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Yellow trout lily is speckled like a brook trout, with a flower nodding as if it’s bashful about its beauty.

Trust your gut.

June 26, 2018 Al Batt talks about all things birds, nature, etc. on KMSU's Minnesota Morning with host Karen Wright. He also shares wisdom on "trusting your gut".

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 They seemed happy to see me.

They seemed happy to see me.

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I was given a warm reception.

 The common whitetail dragonfly likes to perch on the ground.

The common whitetail dragonfly likes to perch on the ground.

 The cecropia is North America’s largest moth and is sometimes called a robin moth.

The cecropia is North America’s largest moth and is sometimes called a robin moth.

 A cecropia moth at a sideways glance.

A cecropia moth at a sideways glance.

 A widow skimmer dragonfly. A female, I think. Young males look similar. I see them often on the tips of reeds.

A widow skimmer dragonfly. A female, I think. Young males look similar. I see them often on the tips of reeds.

The deer in the mist.

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 A dickcissel looking like a junior meadowlark.

A dickcissel looking like a junior meadowlark.

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 A blackbird goes to see the dock.

A blackbird goes to see the dock.

 The American avocet will aggressively attack predators.

The American avocet will aggressively attack predators.

 Mud daubers provision their mud nests with spiders.

Mud daubers provision their mud nests with spiders.

 Raspberry purple becomes my favorite color at this time of the year.

Raspberry purple becomes my favorite color at this time of the year.

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Monarch butterflies make hope dance.

 Seen at the Cable (Wisconsin) Natural History Museum.

Seen at the Cable (Wisconsin) Natural History Museum.

 This device separated the milk from the cream of the crop.

This device separated the milk from the cream of the crop.

 Reaching for food on a lower shelf.

Reaching for food on a lower shelf.

Talking nature on the radio. 

 https://m.mixcloud.com/KTOE/6-19-18-al-blatt/

This groundhog promised to paint the shed in return for some goodies from the garden. It is a liar.

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 The yellow-headed blackbird’s scientific name is Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus, which means “yellow head, yellow head.”

The yellow-headed blackbird’s scientific name is Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus, which means “yellow head, yellow head.”

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A red-winged blackbird in need of a napkin.

 I was eating sunflower seeds while watching this blackbird eat seeds.

I was eating sunflower seeds while watching this blackbird eat seeds.

 An eastern kingbird feels right at home on barbed wire.

An eastern kingbird feels right at home on barbed wire.

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I watched cedar waxwings building a nest without once visiting Home Depot.

 Cedar waxwings that became lovebirds.

Cedar waxwings that became lovebirds.

 Bromegrass.

Bromegrass.

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I heard someone refer to leadplant as “prairie shoestrings.”

 At the team meeting before planting.

At the team meeting before planting.

The chipmunk was appalled to see what the rabbit was eating in the garden.

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 A pheasant tiptoes through the dandelions.

A pheasant tiptoes through the dandelions.

 A brown thresher. 

A brown thresher. 

 Sedges have edges and sedges have sedge wrens.

Sedges have edges and sedges have sedge wrens.

 A clay-collared sparrow’s song is an insect-like buzz.

A clay-collared sparrow’s song is an insect-like buzz.

 These North Dakota hills were no mountains to a high-stepping birder like me :>)

These North Dakota hills were no mountains to a high-stepping birder like me :>)

 A yellow-headed blackbird attempting to hide.

A yellow-headed blackbird attempting to hide.

June 18, 2018 "Birding with Batt" - Al Batt talks about birds, nature, weather, etc.... with Minnesota Morning host, Karen Wright.

 https://soundcloud.com/kmsu/al-batt-06192018

 

Have you seen this gull? It’s wanted for stealing a cookie at a picnic near Devil’s Lake, North Dakota.

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 hHis name is Bill. His career goal is to be an offense lineman in the NFL.

hHis name is Bill. His career goal is to be an offense lineman in the NFL.

 A roadside rose.

A roadside rose.

 Good advice for driving in Minnesota.

Good advice for driving in Minnesota.

 They are big fans of the weather in Pingree, North Dakota.

They are big fans of the weather in Pingree, North Dakota.

 A cowbird comes to a complete stop.

A cowbird comes to a complete stop.

 On the prairie, you notice when the wind stops blowing.

On the prairie, you notice when the wind stops blowing.

 My wife gave me this wonderful gift because I’m a loonatic.

My wife gave me this wonderful gift because I’m a loonatic.

 The hills were alive with the sound of gnats.

The hills were alive with the sound of gnats.

If a birdbrain like me can tell this isn’t a real owl, so can birds.

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 A tree swallow watched me walk a trail in a park.

A tree swallow watched me walk a trail in a park.

 Yarrow was formerly used to break a fever by increasing perspiration, to treat hemorrhaging and as a poultice for rashes.

Yarrow was formerly used to break a fever by increasing perspiration, to treat hemorrhaging and as a poultice for rashes.

 A gray catbird’s giddyup.

A gray catbird’s giddyup.

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A catbird signals a turn.

 A tree with snowy flowers, big leaves and dangling seed pods. It’s the northern catalpa.

A tree with snowy flowers, big leaves and dangling seed pods. It’s the northern catalpa.