Build it, and the storms will wash it away

Storm clouds sliding over southern PA farmland.Build it and they will come.”

Daughter rendered the verdict upon discovering our back yard is home to a family of Eastern Bluebirds, another of English House Sparrows, and a third of House wrens. And those are only the ones occupying houses we have set out for their use. There also are American Robins and Northern Cardinals, a ton of blue jays and an equal number of Goldfinches. We also have hung several feeders, which we keep supplied with mixed birdseed, and another screened version filled with thistle seed.

It’s an active yard.

The bluebirds next to the woods had four eggs the other day. Then yesterday I noticed them spending all day in and out of the nest box. I suspect that means babies; the blues normally spend their days away from the nest, but yesterday the mom barely left and the mister was regularly employed bringing nesting materials and bugs. I have not actually climbed up for a look.

Closer to the house, a House Sparrow couple has taken up housekeeping. I’d wager the male of the pair is the same guy who evicted the bluebirds from their box a couple weeks ago, going into the nest and carrying out the eggs the blues had laid. The bluebirds came to the house closer to mine for a couple of days, and gave the sparrow fits. It seems he didn’t really want the farther nest; he just didn’t want the bluebirds to have it.

He succeeded, temporarily, in preventing the bluebirds establishing a nest, and soon had his own mate doing the wifely duties therein.

He should have paid closer attention to the first bluebird nest. They’re back in a family way.

Meanwhile, a tiny wren has, for the past few days, been giving the sparrows h-e-double-hockey-sticks. I have no idea what that is about, but the diminutive tough guy sits outside the sparrow abode and appears and sounds to be saying things that have no business on children’s television.

Maybe he just needs to cool down some. Summer heat has been becoming noticeably hotter in recent years. According to a newly released Associated Press compilation of data, Harrisburg is Number 20 of 185 U.S. cities in temperature rise over the past 30 years. The Pennsylvania capital registered 2.6 degrees increase since 1988. The top three cities Carson City, Elko and Las Vegas, Nevada – all recorded temperature rise exceeding four degrees in the three decades. Caribou, Maine, on the other hand, at the top of what many people consider a relatively cool state, hit the list at Number 17, only three places ahead of Harrisburg. Tell me something is not a little weird about that.

Slightly to the west of my home, South Mountain in the past 30 years tallied 60 percent more storm events exceeding four inches precipitation than it had experienced the previous 30 years. In fact, the 70 stations reporting Pennsylvania precipitation revealed a 66.6 percent overall increase in storms of at least four inches from 1987-2017 over 1958-1987.

Four inches of rain is a lot of flooded basements, washed out highways, and run-off farms. If there seems a lot of rain of late, there is.

The sky today has appeared as though maybe some rain will come to my neighborhood to lower the temperature and dampen birdly tempers. I love thunderstorms – the more thunder and lightning, the better – within reason. There is something really awesome about watching a full-fledged storm pop over yon mountain and slide toward my house, turning tire-indented pavement into raging riverbed.

“Build it and they will come,” she said.

If the storms do not wash it away.

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