Late Spring in High Desert

Anyone living in the west is well acquainted with drought, wildfires and extreme battles over water. This past winter was dry, snow was scarce  therefore worsening the fears about drought but several storms this late spring have brought welcome water and snow to the high Sierra mountains and California coast. Perhaps because of the turbulent weather, we have seen a profusion of spectacular birds unlike other years.

Each spring, I work to attract the Orioles with special food. Remarkably these birds migrate from the southern tip of Mexico to breed here in the Sierra mountains each year. Always, I am awed when they arrive filling the trees and bushes with golden magnificence. Since we were on vacation and did not return until early May, I worried that my splendid friends would renounce our yard and grace others with their presence this year.

 

 

One would think that as spectacular as these birds are, that their song would fit their splendor. Not so. I have heard several melodic calls when I research Bullock Orioles online but the day we returned from vacation I heard the familiar caw that is halfway between the raucous croak of a crow and a staccato coarse chirp. The call is about as ugly as it sounds but music to my ears because they were here ! Despite the absence of their favorite meal of grape jelly mixed with meal worms and orange slices.

More snow at high altitudes and rain is forecasted over the next couple of days, perhaps this is why we are seeing this beauty that I have seen here only one other year. He is a western tanager and loves the tall Alpine forests of Tahoe. For some reason, he and his mate have joined the Orioles for a little while. And he looks exactly like this photo.

And then as if another reminder of the profligacy and imagination of our God is needed, three of these birds showed up fighting and squawking at one another and at everyone else at the feeders. Yellow headed black birds- what a mind it took to create these birds.

 

Spring in the high desert, more than astounding.

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