Thrashers and Cotton Flowers

Lately, in the evenings, I’ve been going outside to read theory for the academic portion of my dissertation. After the sun hits a certain angle and the evening breeze from the west picks up, it’s quite comfortable in the shade of the maple tree, even in low 90s upper 80s, even with lower Alabama’s famous humidity.

Yesterday, I noted both a fledgling brown thrasher on the ground near the maple tree and that the cotton’s blooming. Or now, thanks to the blooms, I know it to be cotton. Otherwise, cotton, soybeans, and peanuts all kind of look the same to me: green shrubby things planted in rows.

I watched the fledgling on and off all day, bringing him water and seed and consulting the internets re: fallen fledglings. The fledgling eventually pipsqueaked his way to the holly tree, which makes a good, prickly shelter, so I finally let the dogs out in the early evening, as I usually do. Alas, Zoey, my otherwise slothful Beagle, very nearly got another fledgling hopping around the loropetalums by the house, but I chased her off into a field and corralled the other puppies.

Today I tried to take some pictures. It’s overcast and dreadful hot, which means crappy, washed-out light, immediate condensation on my lens filter, and not much sweaty patience on my part to figure out better setting for the camera (or constantly wipe the condensation from the lens).

Anyway, here’s what I got:

Fledgling Brown Thrasher

Fledgling Brown Thrasher

Parent Brown Thrasher

Parent Brown Thrasher

Note the difference in eye color. As the fledgling gets older, his eyes, like his parents’, will turn a striking yellow. The long beak is helpful for plucking grubs from the ground. The parents (there are two guarding the little fellows!) made a commotion when Zoey was chasing down one of the pipsqueaks. Afterward, I tried to track it to make sure it wasn’t hurt, and indeed, the second one was much better at hopping without getting its feet all caught up in its wings like the guy now hiding in the holly. His feathers are better developed too. He’ll be just fine. The parents tried luring me away by making the fledgling’s call a bush over and then fluttering off to the maple while the fledgling hid silently in the lower limbs of the loropetalum.

White Cotton Flower

White Cotton Flower

Pink Cotton Flower

Pink Cotton Flower

It seems the cotton flowers start off pink, then as they open in the sun, turn white, slightly buttery. There are both tight pink blooms and buttery white flowers on the same plants, at any rate. Also, they’re in the same family as hibiscus, thus the family resemblance.

Now I’m just waiting for the shade and breeze so I can work outside.

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