The Special Acre

When Robert and I first visited the property on which we have now lived for over twenty years, we were standing in the driveway with the realtor who gestured to the land across the street.

“That acre over there also belongs to this property,” he said.

“Back when the county was designing the plots they decided that the acre directly across from a farmer’s main house should belong to his property,” he continued.

Apparently, the founding developers of Fayette Co, IL wanted a peaceful existence for their residents. Folks shouldn’t have to see their neighbors residing directly across the street.

“So, you can do what you want with it. You can give it back….” I didn’t hear any more. Why would I want to give it back? I thought that providing a tranquil view for everyone was a splendid idea. The reason that I live in the country is so that I can live in the country, not in a neighborhood in close proximity to neighbors.

A few weeks ago, I was waiting to see what animal had decided to fill the owl box on the huge maple tree by the old house with a bunch of leaves. That is when I spotted the Red-headed woodpecker flying back and forth across the acre across the street. It first landed just about 20 feet from me in an oak tree that is next to the big maple tree. Then it took off to the mature trees on the East property line of the acre across the street. After a while, it flew back West to the dying tree where it has a nest cavity in one of the upper, dead branches.

I decided to sit for a spell across the street, facing those mature trees on the East side. I’m so happy to say that I was able to get the best images I’ve even caught of this amazing bird.

This is another species which is struggling to maintain previous population stats. “Red-headed Woodpeckers declined by over 1% per year from 1966 to 2019, resulting in a cumulative decline of 54%, according to the North American Breeding Bird Survey.” I’m so happy that they can make a living here at our place, and that it’s chosen the special little plot of land to do so.

In the time while I was waiting for the woodpecker to land on the trees so that I could photograph it, I saw something out of the corner of my eye. Perched on the wire fence to the south, there was a most handsome Eastern Kingbird. This is a species that I truly love to watch. From a perch, usually the height of a fence post, they will sit for a spell until they see their next snack. The bird will drop down, sometimes hovering just above the insect for more time that you might think, then it will fly down and nab it.

Here are some images I captured of the Kingbird – who didn’t seem to mind hanging out in close proximity to me while he hunted. It made me wonder if he was showing off!

There is a pair of Eastern Bluebird that, based on what I’ve observed, probably has a natural nest cavity in the woods to the south of our acre. I often see them hunting off that same wire fence where the Kingbird was spotted. Robert keeps our acre plot mowed so I think that the birds that hunt insects off the ground appreciate that hunting area. When I see those Bluebirds, which I do often, I wonder if they consider their natural cavity dwelling to be a stop up from the birds that use the nest boxes we provide. Do they brag that they have a Frank Lloyd Wright to the other birds who have to say they live in State provided housing!

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