The Birds and the Beetles


[ Japanese beetle invasion ]

July 4 – Just came in from the front porch where I had been enjoying the coolness of early evening, a real change from the heat all day today. Unfortunately, that’s the kind of weather we are expecting for the entire week ahead. We try to keep a clean surface out on the porch and sweep it often these days because of the Japanese beetles which come in flocks as they pile up all over the branches of the trees they like to devour.

A few days ago as I was carrying some fallen tree branches back to the burning pile, I noticed a couple of flower bushes that the beetles had taken over completely! Not just a few here and there, but so many that they were piled on top of each other. In some spots there was no greenery at all. Just for fun (?) I knocked the beetles off, but they were soon back to get the last of the leaves. Several kinds of trees suffered a big loss as the beetles were racing around trying to get the biggest haul. The Nanking bush cherries, Siberian elm, sour cherries (picked bushels of them last year, but not this year), plum, pear, and others.

I thought of them when I went out to the porch several times this week. The surface has been covered with chewed up leaves as they have fallen because of the work of the beetles. Very strange this year as there are more of those horrible things settling in for a good picnic. I can hardly remember that we had a problem with them last year, or any other year. Back in Pennsylvania, yes, but not here in Missouri.


[ Wren’s nest ]

Dale’s plants, mostly succulents, don’t seem to be bothered by the beetles, so make a good showing with flowers and new little plants making a start. A while ago, he told me that a Carolina wren had made a nest inside the area. So, out came my camera, and I checked quietly to see what I could find. Nothing but a bunch of untidy sticks and straw, but I knew that had to be the nest. The wren paid me back for my curiosity because just as I took the first picture, it flew out of the nest and ended up on the railing of the porch! After I recovered, I took a couple more pictures.


[ Bird of Scrap ]

At the end of the porch the humming birds enjoy the nectar as they try to decide which one gets to enjoy the food first! They are a noisy little group and fly off to the mock orange bushes until they want another drink.

For awhile we had no visitors because we had switched to a commercial mixture that our son, David, bought for us. Since these particular birds had never before sampled such a treat, they just didn’t sip any. However, there’s no doubt they are enjoying it now. Our son-in-law Harvey made us a bird some years ago from pieces of cast-off metal. A strange head and beak and feet that are fastened to the porch railing draw attention to an unusual bird.


[ Top of our new wind chimes]

Down at the other end, we have some wind chimes that we have had just about forever. At one time we had so many of the chimes that the space above the railing was just filled with pipes of various kinds, but each with a song of its own. Finally, we decided to give them to our grandson Rob. David bought us a very special chime about a week ago. In the daytime the head of the wind chimes gathers up a good supply of solar rays. Since the chimes stored up that heat during the day, it makes a beautiful light after darkness has arrived. It is a mixture of white and purple light.

Now back out on the porch again, where the wren was trying to distract me from that nest. Our chairs are sitting pretty close to the table of plants that hold that nest! As I sat reading, before darkness came on, I could sit quietly so as not to disturb that bird. It flew back and forth from the big metal bird to the corner of the porch railing, then up to a branch hanging down from those of the elm tree, and back to the place where he felt safe as he guarded that nest. No sound at all on the porch until the wren called out to me, “Please go inside! I am guarding a very special little one, and I want it to grow up without a problem!”


[ Wind Chime at night ]

I thought it would never happen, but I decided to go quietly to the screen door and tell Dale the story before inviting him to go back out to the porch with me. While we sat in the darkness except for the solar powered light, we could hear the sounds made by the wren and watch it fly here and there on the plant table. I was more than happy that the whole story turned out as it did as I wanted Dale to enjoy watching. Even the cat, after asking for some attention, noticed that we were watching something different. However, when she started to sniff around the nest area, we told her to stop that behavior. She did too as she obviously did not want to be banished to the inside of the house while we were listening to and watching the bird.

We have so often enjoyed birds and animals as they move around on our eighteen acres. Usually happy and contented, they give us thoughts of “Pippa Passes” by Robert Browning, thoughts that I have quoted in at least one other blog. In reading the poem in a season other than spring, I had to change a bit, but the thoughts and the blessings are still the same!

The year’s at the spring,
And day’s at the morn;
Morning’s at seven;
The hill-side’s dew-pearled;
The lark’s on the wing;
The snail’s on the thorn;
God’s in his heaven—
All’s right with the world!

As I checked on the poem, I found that there is even a city in Kentucky with that name– Pippa Passes. It was named in honor of Alice Lloyd College, with a population of about 640.

Sometimes I wish that I weren’t interested in so many ideas, and thoughts, and writing, and learning, but the whole process surely is fun! – CHRIS

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