Now you know how I knew.
It was easy to picture Mrs. Grackle tapping her foot and pointing to her watch when he finally appeared at the nest-to-be with something to contribute.
At the same time, about 10' from the grackle and deeper into the shade of the SW corner of the yard, I watched a cowbird engaged in what I first thought was the same behaviour as the grackle. It was walking slowly but purposefully, pecking over here and then over there. After a handful of pecks with no visible result, I figured he was looking for food, not nesting material.
And now, as I write this a few minutes later, I recall that cowbirds always lay their eggs in the nests of other birds. Duh. They’re never concerned about finding nesting material.
Animal behaviour is fascinating.
Spawning is just about done. The trout population is sparse now, and scattered. But the warm, dry spell has lowered and cleared the water, so the ones which remain are easier to spot.
Some people, even with sunglasses, sometimes seem totally unable to see these torpedo-shaped shadows. Unless I’m fishing, I never wear sunglasses while walking, and still, I have no problems spotting fish. I suppose decades of squinting at water gives me something of an edge.
Bumped into, and chatted with a couple of folks along the way this morning. Both expressed disappointment at missing the peak of the trout run when the fish were jumping at the dam. One woman in particular, said she hadn’t seen a “single fish” in the last 10 days.
As we spoke, without even turning my head much, I could see a pair of rainbow trout tucked behind a boulder not 20 feet away. Along this particular half-kilometre stretch of creek, I could probably see two to eight fish every hundred metres, if I was looking for them. Two weeks ago was three times that number, last week, twice.
She hadn’t seen a single one.
I think there’s a lot of folks like her. Folks who can't seem to see, even when they’re purportedly looking.
First of all, most of them aren’t really looking at all. If not actually accompanied by someone and chatting, or strolling with their iPod cranked up, they’re busy inside their heads thinking clamorous thoughts about work or the children or finances or sex or medical problems.
Their inner noise and busyness, in effect, deadens their senses. They see well enough not to bump into trees but they don’t see the squirrels or birds among the branches. They see the water splashing over the rocks but they don’t hear the music of the creek.
And at least some of them aren’t seeing fish that are finning in plain sight.