(Original post from Feb. 27, 2012 with updates)
The dominating feature on one side of our back yard is a big maple tree. I call it ‘Big Tree.’ Last year we lost a companion big maple tree on the side yard (lightning hit and then bugs ate it from the inside). It used to mingle its leaves with Big Tree but now we only have the canopy of ‘Big Tree’ to shelter that area in summer. And of course, we have the pines, but, those are different.
The Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy, Northern Flicker, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Cooper’s Hawk and all the yard birds love that tree. We keep the suet there (you can see in the picture), especially for the peckers. The feeders are in more protected areas because of the osprey and hawks. Every dog likes to lie and play around Big Tree and so did the children. We had a safety cable put in it several years ago to keep it from falling onto the house in a big storm. I did not realize until I went to look for pictures, how much Big Tree has been the background for our lives in this house. We actually bought this house because we felt like we are in a treehouse when looking out the living room window. The kid’s swing-set/treehouse used to live under it (now long gone donated to some deserving other kids). There used to be grass in that area but now there is only sand. The gardens have changed and paths have worn, but Big Tree still is there for us.
My stepdaughter, K8, is an amazing photographer, and I thank her for the close-up shots of the hawk, spider, and yard birds. We are blessed with this amazing gathering of birds all year long. We have our common friends: Carolina Chickadees, American Goldfinch, House Finch, Carolina Wrens, Song Sparrow, White-breasted Nuthatch, Tufted Titmouse, Dark-eyed Junco, European Starling, Brown-headed Cowbird, American Robin, Northern Mockingbird, Blue Jay, Mourning Dove, American Crow & Raven, and Northern Cardinal. Oh yes, and our occasional: Baltimore Oriole, Eastern Bluebird, Barred Owl. We also have the ducks that lie under the tree: Teal, Mallard, American Black Duck, American Wigeon.
The water birds tend to visit but don’t stay long (except the ducks). The Osprey live less than a 1,000 feet away but don’t seem to land on the tree, they circle and watch the action always making their high-pitched squawk as they fly overhead.
Trees are an amazing part of the landscape and really form the background of our lives. If you stay in one place for a certain amount of time or visit the same spot year after year, you get to know the trees. Over the years we have lost many trees to their age, and the bugs, and the weather. We had this incredible Tortured Willow that was half dead when we moved in and we nursed that beauty for several years before I was willing to let her go. When you lose a tree, so many things change; the garden pattern, the landscape flow, the shadows, and the sun. The environment changes all around you minute by minute. About 5 years ago (now 12), the people across the street took out over 40 large pines so they could build a second driveway and a shed (that I now have to look out my office window every day at, instead of the wonderful natural forest I loved). All the squirrels and rabbits had to find other homes (of course in my yard). I wish people would stop cutting away the landscape and start caring more what happens when they get rid of all the natural cover just so they could park an extra car. Hey, I just thought about the fact that maybe that is why the wind and runoff pattern has eroded my property around Big Tree much more in the last few years. I think I am going to call a tree expert to make sure the Big Tree is OK. I want it to be here for a really long time if possible because it is the background to my life.
Just another DogDaz morning at the zoo ❤