Friday, June 21, 2013

Solstice

It's the first day of summer — but looking outside, here in Marquette, you sure wouldn't realize it. It's been a cloudy, rainy, foggy sort of day, and will be for the rest of the week. With the unusually cool weather, blossoms have held onto the trees longer: the lilacs are still flowering, and they looked (and smelled!) quite beautiful this afternoon.

Lilacs IILilacs I

After taking a short walk along the beach at McCarty's Cove, Steph and I spotted a dead bird on the wet sidewalk. At first glance we thought it was a young starling, but upon closer inspection, we realized it was a grackle fledgling.

Fledgling I 
The survival rate for young birds is low. Hatchlings are fragile beings: passerines emerge from their eggs blind, naked, and helpless. At that stage, when they're still bound to the nest, baby birds are a favorite food of crows and blue jays, as well as squirrels. Fledglings, having made it that far, are at an awkward stage of development: flight feathers have not yet fully erupted, and coordination is still limited. They, too, are easy prey. 

It's hard to say what happened to this young grackle. After photographing it, I moved the body off the sidewalk and left it in the shelter of the blooming, fragrant lilacs.

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