Birds of a feather
June 23 was a Big Day high on a pole in Snow’s Lane – but I’ll get back to that.
First though, some reflections on my bay-boy youth and a daily bay-boy chore.
Our hens were my responsibility. I fed them their scratch. I lugged bucketsful of conch shells from the beach, pulverized them with a hammer, and hove them into the hens’ yard for extra grit. I collected eggs … which could be hazardous when Biddy was broody.
Biddy, our brood hen, was a devoted mother, the feathered incubator of many a clutch of eggs destined to become dozens of fluffy chicks.
When Biddy was hatching a brood, she was a fearsome fowl that furiously attacked anything she felt threatened her in-shell babies…
… me, for instance, when I inched past her nest to collect eggs elsewhere in the hen-house. If I accidently knocked against her nest, Biddy instantly became a maelstrom of feathered fury fastened to my collar, raking my neck with cat-curled talons and pecking my noggin with a triphammer beak.
I often delivered our egg basket to Mammy while rivulets of blood streamed down my neck from weeping scalp wounds.
“Serves you right for tormenting Biddy,” Mammy mostly said, accepting the hard-shelled harvest.
“Harry, my hyperbolic Hon,” says Dearest Duck, “I’m sure that is not what your mother said.”
“Words to that effect, my Duck,” say I.
Other than attacking me, Biddy sat on her eggs for hours, for days, for weeks and … well, brooded.
Which brings me back to the pole on Snow’s Lane.
Atop the pole the Light and Power Boys have built a platform, a roost, a nesting site for Shanawdithit the osprey and her mate, Beaumont the fish hawk.
(Here’s a squeezed-in footnote: A young maid from Outer Cove bestowed Beaumont with his prize-winning name.)
Albeit an invasion of osprey privacy, the LPBs have installed a live osprey nest CAM so any Tom who so desires can have a peep at Shanny and Beau.
Tom’s like me, for instance, who has spent hours, and days, and weeks watching Shanny … well, again, brood.
That’s a lie. This being Modern Times, Beau takes his turn nestling on the trio of mottled eggs and allows Shanny time off to attend to personal matters — fly off to a spa and have her talons manicured, or whatever.
“Harry, you are belittling noble creature.”
“Just funning, my Duck.” Of course, I haven’t watched Shanny 24/7, just off and on.
By the way, Shanny is famous way beyond her pole-high penthouse boudoir on Snow’s Lane. a She’s well-known by ornithologists from Newfoundland to Venezuela because…
… well, just look at her — she’s tagged and has a transmitter — antenna and all — fastened to her back, making her look like some kind of cyborg raptor. Sure, she spent Christmas near the Orinoco River, wherever that is.
For days and weeks not much happened. A piece of plastic bag appeared tangled in the nest of sticks. Wind-blown? Or, p’raps Shanny or Beau tucked it in while I wasn’t watching. One day a blasty bough lay on the nest, and then vanished. Wind-blown? A length of orange twine — a plaited piece of an onion bag? — became part of the nest.
Shanny swapped seats with Beau; Beau swapped seats with Shanny.
Pretty boring being an osprey, eh b’ys? Boring as being Biddy, p’raps.
Until the Big Day came. When I looked at the nest CAM on June 23, the first of Shanny’s eggs had hatched and a new-born chick flopped around knocking against its unborn siblings.
“Ah, how cute is that,” said Dearest Duck when I called her to see the chick.
At one point, Shanny arrived back at the nest toting a green bough — bringing a flower to celebrate, I s’pose. And that’s all right because Shanny and Beau are a Modern-Day pair of parent ospreys.
It’s June 25 as I scribble. All three chicks tumble over one another, beaks agape, waiting for grub. And, b’ys oh b’ys, Beau is lugging home fish faithfully.
Shanny swapped seats with Beau; Beau swapped seats with Shanny. Pretty boring being an osprey, eh b’ys?
See MOTHERLY ACTION pg A6