Just Mallards and Coots

There are few neighbors on the pond as we move into September.  The Mallard hens are always a surprise as they bring their broods onto the water late in the Summer.  The coots?  I like coots.  They are so generally incompetent, that each year when they appear with three, or even four little coots it seems a great success.

See, the coot isn’t related to the ducks.  They have what is termed a “frontal shield” – a featherless callous running from forehead to beak . . . and the aspect of a coot that shows up in 1430 according to the Oxford dictionary, in the descriptive phrase “bald as a coot.”  The old bald-headed coots got the term from the bird, not the other way around.

In the garden, the problem is the bald-faced hornets.  We’ve planted a row of blackberries, and the berries are ripening.  The problem is that the bald-faced hornets are eating the berries before we can pick them . . . and they’re aggressive about protecting the berries.  Next year, the traps will be going out early.  Pest control can be a challenge.

Penn State Extension has a publication on the bald-faced hornet.

“The baldfaced hornet is an ‘aerial yellowjacket’ – one of 7 or 8 species in the genus Dolichovespula in North America.” 

As Fall comes in, our residents fly south – but the bald-faced hornets seem to have no such inclination.


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