Lately, I have wondered if I am paying the price for abusing my sense of hearing all of these years. I simply do not hear as well as I used to. FD has the same problem, and most of the time we either do not hear what the other has said, or we do not hear it correctly. Sometimes it is frustrating, but other times we laugh heartily at the ridiculousness of what we thought the other said. Still, I have found it disheartening to have to ask people to repeat themselves, and often I move my line of vision to their lips, in order to assure I might also lip-read what is being said.
Because of this, I find myself telling nieces and nephews and other young people not to crank the music up in their car, or to be sure to protect their ears during a concert. Firing guns or subjecting ears to various loud stimulus are destructive actions that rob us of the longevity of our ability to hear. I remember my nearly deaf grandmother preaching these same warnings to me – but did I listen? Sadly, I was at that age where I knew I was invincible and that Grandma was simply overly worrisome.
While sitting on the back porch last night, I found myself thankful that at least my hearing was still good enough to hear the evening noises of nature. The cicada’s were buzzing and the cardinal’s chirped the last calls of the evening. I heard a dove or two take off from nearby trees, noting the sharp whistling noise their wings make as they take flight. As I took in the evening sounds, I kept my eyes on the canyon below, hoping to see Spirit deer. It had been two days since I had seen her come for feed and water, and I was a little worried that she had not been around lately. I hoped all was well with her new fawn, and that Spirit herself was doing fine.
Suddenly, I heard a strange and loud noise of clawing on metal. I knew immediately it was coming from the downspout at the back steps. Apparently, something had crawled into the metal tubing. Since it was just beginning to get dark, I ran inside for a flashlight. When I came back out and shined my flashlight inside the downspout, I found out that, sure enough, it was a box turtle inside, apparently seeking shelter. But if you ask me, a downspout is not a very good idea for a hideaway and, if I was going to be able to help the little fella, I would have to snake my hand around a lot of well-established honeysuckle vine just to get to the downspout opening. Somehow, I managed to get my hand in the opening of the rain spout and I pulled, but Mr. Turtle was not budging. In fact, the clawing ensued and before long he had worked his way past the bend in the downspout. After burying himself fully out of my reach, I listened to the clawing for about another twenty minutes before I finally decided he really needed to come out of the tubing.
Now with renewed determination, I tapped around until I found Mr. Turtle’s location, which was more than three feet up the downspout by this time. I removed three screws and then realized I would have to go around the back of the honeysuckle and tangle with the nearby climbing rose bush to pull the metal tubing loose. What bothered me most about the maneuvers I would have to make to remove the lower portion of the downspout, was that I would have to disturb a beautiful female garden orb spider who had set up her web between the two plants more than a week ago. But, after a little shooing her just a bit, she moved away on her own and I pulled the plants back and reached my hand over to the tubing and jiggled the section loose.
With the turtle’s hideaway now firmly in my hand, I tapped the downspout piece on the ground, but Mr. Turtle remained lodged in his spot inside the tubing. Trying once again – tap, tap, tap – still no turtle fell out. Not having any luck jarring him loose, I shone my flashlight down the shaft of the downspout to see what the problem might be. With the aid of my flashlight, I soon discovered that Mr. Turtle was stuck between two screws. Once I removed the screws and gently tapped the spout on the ground one more time, he plopped out on his back, eyes closed as if he was preparing for the worst. Of course, I quickly set him upright and he took off for the protection of my basil patch. I don’t believe I have ever seen a turtle move that fast!
Fortunately, I did manage a few poor night shots of Mr. Turtle with my iPhone during the extraction. When I downloaded all the photos from my iPhone to my computer, I noticed a shot of a juvenile raptor that I had photographed a few weeks ago with the turtle photos. “Jeez,” I thought, I had completely forgotten about that little fellow.
The raptor came my way when I got a call early one morning about a young hawk that was injured and had not eaten in two days. The caller said that the hawk had a problem with one of his wings, but FD and I could not find anything amiss with either wing. Still, the mere fact that he had not eaten for a few days was a concern. Considering his dehydrated and emaciated condition, we decided I would transport him to WildCare – a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation facility about seventy miles from here. There, expert staff could look him over and give him the food and care he needed.
Leaving my morning tasks for later, I loaded the hawk (or whatever he was) into the car and took off for WildCare. I looked to the back seat as I pulled out of the driveway and onto the street, to make sure my little charge was riding comfortably. His reply was to open his beak and fluff his feathers, an obvious attempt to appear scary. Well, it worked on me, and I was glad he was in a cage, as he was not friendly looking at all.
After traveling about twenty miles down the road, I did not have to wonder what kind of bird he was anymore. While doing a little meditative thinking as the miles ticked by, I found myself in a place of deep and pleasant thought when, all of a sudden, the high-pitched whistle of “PHEE! PHEW!” shattered the silence in the car, and nearly gave me a heart attack! I am not sure how long it took me to gather my wits… a few seconds perhaps, but I knew at once that what I was hearing was the call of a Mississippi Kite. These birds of prey fly above our home all spring and summer. After recovering from my initial shock, I looked back again to see my little charge doing very well. This time, seeming rather proud and confident, he did not fluff up his feathers and open his beak in another attempt to try to scare me off.
After another short five miles, my passenger screamed out once again. This time, however, it was six consecutive whistles. Adjusting my rear view mirror so I had my friend in clear view, I announced that that would be quite enough of that nonsense. But only a mile more down the road, he began to let out several more loud whistles, and he did not stop. After a bit, I began to laugh. His whistle sounded as if he was saying, “THANK you, THANK you, THANK you”. So, for the next forty miles, I endured the ear-splitting call of the Mississippi Kite from the up-close-and-personal distance of the back seat of my car. To deal with his noise, I carried on conversation with him, saying it was entirely my pleasure to transport him, but would he please stop thanking me. But, like a rebellious juvenile, he insisted in continuing to lustily sing out his praises!
To hear the whistle of the Mississippi Kite for yourself, click on the sound audio at The Cornell Lab of Ornithology.
I am sure I have never experienced anything like that before. Hearing the actual call of the Mississippi Kite not three feet from me, and feeling the vibration and energy of such a powerful bird so close, I know I am a fairly fortunate person. He was such a magnificent bird! I am not sure, however, that all of that whistling did my ears much good, but I must say, I think that young kite really enjoyed the ride… and paid his fare by putting on quite a lovely concert!
© 2014 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…