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Tag: grasshopper

The owl whinnied

The first time I heard whinnying coming from a tree outside my window, it got my full and immediate attention. I got my shoes on and went outside to check it out, then came back inside to Google this call I’d never before heard in my life.

Turns out it was an Eastern screech owl, making one of its territorial defense calls–the descending trill during territorial defense, to be exact.

I feel particularly fascinated by this owl, and usually go outside to listen when I hear it. Sometimes the dogs are the first to alert me that an owl is nearby. If it’s close enough, they’ll bark when they hear it calling. (They growl and bark at recordings of the owl trill as well.)  I enjoy all birdsong, but this owl’s calls I find hauntingly beautiful.

When I was looking at houses before I bought mine, a homeowner in another historic neighborhood told me they had a neighborhood owl (more probably at least a mated pair I suppose), and I guess now that this is how she knew. I’ve never seen our owl or owls, only heard them. Eastern screech owls are quite small, and apparently are well camouflaged and difficult to spot. Certainly I haven’t seen one yet.

I don’t know why, but I typically hear owl calls between 10 and 11 pm or so. Perhaps this is when the nocturnal hunt begins in earnest, and thus the hour when owl territorial issues arise! With a river nearby here in the middle of the city, owl hunting is most definitely encouraged. I’m more than happy for them (really anyone using non-poisonous methods) to cull the local rodent population.

I wonder if by any chance owls eat my nemesis, the grasshopper? A girl can dream. (Research indicates they do eat insects as part of their varied diet, though grasshoppers were not specifically named.)

Perhaps I should install an appealing nest box, as close as possible to my roses …

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In which the grasshopper has a death wish

Today I walked blithely out my front door, and was arrested by the sight of the grasshopper–back on my rose. It has sheared off, with its little grasshopper mandibles, an entire side of the rose. It has given the rose Grace Jones’s haircut.

Whether it was a good look for Grace I cannot say, but it is most certainly not a good look for a rose.

This time I knocked the grasshopper into the succulent groundcover. I peered down at his yellow ugliness … “You clearly have a death wish.”

I thought fleetingly of how useful my trowel could be at that moment, neatly dividing the grasshopper in two–if I were swift, and lucky, and especially if I had the trowel outside with me at all, which I did not.

The grasshopper will live another day.

The grasshopper and the rose

The roses are blooming their lush fall bloom. My favorite is David Austin’s English rose The Prince. Velvety deep red, yellow-centered, many-petalled. The scent–rich, spicy, deeply satisfying.

Yesterday I found an ugly yellow grasshopper snacking on one of The Prince’s largest blooms. I was not best pleased.

There was a time when I had a bloodlust for grasshoppers, but now I live and let live. They are not, however, welcome to eat my roses. So I looked around for a weapon, then carefully knocked the grasshopper into the boxwood hedge with the watering pitcher I found nearby.

Carefully because experience has taught that grasshoppers often like to leap upon their attacker, and I am not one who relishes being leapt upon by the larger insects.

I inhaled deeply the intoxicating scent of one of the unassaulted roses, and satisfied with a job well done, went back into the house.

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