Last week, I spent an afternoon in the old apple orchard to check out the bird nesting scene. The cows found this fascinating.
The chickadees mostly ignored the cows under their tree and carried on with the hard work of feeding hungry hatchlings.
After a while, I followed the flight path of a red-naped sapsucker to another tree on the edge of the canyon.
About three feet above the sapsucker nest, nuthatches tended their young.
Then I glanced into the branches above and saw this:
My initial thoughts went something like: “oh cool, what a gorgeous snake. And in a tree! What snake around here climbs trees? I feel like I’m in some tropical jungle.” Then, I realized why the snake was in the tree.
Uh oh. From an avian perspective, there never has been a Garden of Eden.
But from an ecological perspective, it’s a pretty cool example of how the system works — and it’s not about cuteness. I feel bad for the baby birds (though I never saw whether the snake succeeded in eating one), but I suppose I should feel equally sorry for those still-live bugs being stuffed down baby bird gullets. Or for the calves destined for human dinner plates.
That reminds me: while watching birds, I should look around now and then to see if a cougar is stalking me.
(Note on the cows: although I don’t object to raising animals humanely and sustainably for meat, the cows don’t belong to me. They belong to our neighbor and visit our pastures for a couple weeks every summer).