Friday, June 25, 2021

Opinion: Thanks to Frank and other tales

Editor | May 10, 2021 6:10 AM

The thing about nasty spring weather like we had recently is that you end up seeing birds that you might not normally see in Glacier National Park.

Why just the other day I was duck watching and there it was: A duck that I hadn’t seen before, or at least hadn’t paid attention to before.

The ducks weren’t doing much, which is to say they were asleep, or at least resting with their heads tucked under their wings, which is how a duck (as well as a goose and swan, sleep).

Watching swans go to sleep is particularly fun, as once they fold up that gloriously long neck of theirs, they look like a mound of snow, which I suspect, is the point.

If there ever was a bird designed for a snowy landscape, it’s the trumpeter swan.

But I digress.

The duck I was watching was a ruddy duck, a funny-looking small duck with a blue bill. Imagine God taking the parts of several different ducks and putting them all together.

You’d have a ruddy duck.

I suppose the blue bill has some sort of purpose, typically colors that don’t seem to match suddenly work out great as camouflage once the duck stops moving.

Take the bald eagle, for example. The white head doesn’t make sense at first blush, but when it sits on snow-capped trees, it almost disappears.

You also have to take a different perspective. Some creatures are meant to blend in from below, others are meant to blend in from above, and still others just simply blend it no matter what perspective.

I watched a red fox curl up the other day underneath a cottonwood tree. It went from a fox to being a rock in a matter of seconds. The ground squirrels literally pranced just a few feet away, until the fox pounced, of course. (He was unsuccessful, in case you were wondering).

Birds in particular see the world differently than we do, too. Some woodpeckers see infrared light, drawing them to recently burned woods, where beetles that can actually smell smoke with their long antennae are also attracted.

The beetle lays its eggs in the dead trees, the

woodpecker eats the larvae and the beetles. The woodpecker makes a hole in a tree and the bluebird takes up residence after the woodpecker is done.

The burned woods then becomes a meadow for a years and the bluebirds raise their family there.

There are circles within circles. You just have to pay attention. ---- It was sad to see Frank Sizemore had passed away. Frank was very helpful when myself, Ken Milliard, the Cantu family and Kevin Kenfield started the rec softball league years ago. People didn’t always like Frank’s calls behind the plate, but umpiring is one of the most thankless jobs on the planet, and Frank did the one thing many folks are unwilling to do: He showed up. Thank you Frank, for your service.