One in ten European wild bee species face extinction
GR: This is a global problem. This morning I stood inhaling the sweet scent beneath the magnificent plumb tree that shades my bird garden bench, looked up into the countless fragrant blossoms, and listened in vain for the hum of working bees. There was silence except for the distant hum of a truck on the road a mile away. No movement amidst the thousands of blooms except for a single fly.
This is the worst spring for pollinators in the eighteen I’ve lived and worked at Coldwater Farm. There were a few bees last month when the apricot bloomed, fewer when the willows bloomed, and now nothing in the plumbs. We have a farm nearby, and I wonder if they are killing the bees with Monsanto GMO crops and pesticides. If they aren’t, could the lawn and garden pesticides my neighbors are using cause the bees to disappear?
Coldwater Farm Wildlife
Located on the Agua Fria River in central Arizona, Coldwater Farm is a tiny, 20 acre, refuge for wildlife. Despite being in the center of the Town of Dewey-Humboldt, the Farm is an ideal wildlife habitat. It has abundant surface water supplies and patches of dense vegetation. The Agua Fria River flows above ground through the farm, and there are three large ponds. Willow thickets and a nice grove of tall cottonwood trees fill the river’s flood plain.
Mule Deer Visits
Last July, I wrote about two fawns that visited my back yard three days after they were born (see the post here). Mule Deer became regular visitors last winter. They are particularly pleased with the black sunflower seeds the birds miss.
The fawns just came again, and this time another pair of twins joined them. The photo shows one of them. I think the kid looks good for four months.
Barn Owl Box
Yesterday I finished setting up a nest box for the Barn Owls that live here. I’ve know the owls were here for about 10 years now. Last winter, wind blew down the best roosting tree, and the owls have lived in less protective trees. That’s when I decided to put up a nest box.
Barn Owls are unique in many ways. They tolerate humans, and in return for permission to sleep in barns and other buildings, they control the local mouse population. Wise farmers use Barn Owls, not mousetraps. Read the two earlier posts about the Coldwater Farm Barn Owls here, and the windstorm disaster here.
The nest box is about 12 feet above the ground. My telescoping pipe plan would have put it at 16 feet, but the wind happened to be gusting to 30 MPH, and was creating too strong a sway. Don’t want the owls to get seasick (or the pole to bend). I bought the box from the Barn Owl Box company. The box is white, intended to be installed in full sun, but I chose a shady spot and decided to paint the shell flat green.
The box is visible from my back door. If I pay attention in the evenings, I hope to see owls coming and going now and then.
Other Coldwater Farm Wildlife News
Quail are trying to make a permanent home here. They began stopping by three years ago, but the flock didn’t began sticking around until last winter.
The annual return of wild ducks to the ponds is going well. Mallards, Ring Necks, and American Wigeon so far. I started throwing out a little corn when I take this old dog down for his daily swim.
A hawk has stayed around the house for two months now. This week he/she dropped onto the lawn and began eating grasshoppers. We have a good late supply this year. I guess they are easier to catch than the songbirds and gophers that the other hawks choose. The hawk is about 22 inches. If you recognize the species, please let me know.
Deer Birth Announcement
We have two new fawns! They were probably born Sunday night, July 27, 2014. Both appear normal and healthy.
Last year we regularly saw a doe in our fallowed cow pasture, and in July, she bore a fawn. Last winter several deer began visiting. The group included two yearlings, a pair of two-year olds, and several doe. One of the does looked pregnant. I didn’t see her on Monday, she came alone on Tuesday, and this morning she brought two tiny fawns.
The fawns are tiny dynamos. The one on the left didn’t have time for milk, only time for running, jumping, and running some more. Awkward, but quite fast. The other fawn made a few short sprints and jumps, but was too hungry to do more just now.
Mule Deer are showing up in yards and gardens across the western U. S. Our continuing drought is limiting forage production, and combined with our incessant pumping, the drought is drying up some springs. We are happy to have deer visit. They are eating our weeds, pruning all of our shrubs and trees, and eating unfenced garden vegetables. They love to help the birds and squirrels clean up the sunflower and millet seeds I scatter each morning.
Western U. S. deer populations are shrinking. Well-known causes include livestock grazing, farming, construction, and hunting. We know that the causes of deer decline including hunting will not stop. These two small creatures could be shot and killed within the next two or three years. Nevertheless, we will continue to provide our bit of support to the deer and we are encouraging our neighbors to do so as well.