We have had record breaking heat in the Ozarks the last few days. Several times the temperature has risen to 109ºF (42.8°C) in the middle of the day. The humidity has been so low that the heat index has actually been negative, which I suppose is a blessing of sorts.
Needless to say, we have been watering the gardens assiduously in order to help them stay happy during this heat wave. We are so blessed that our community is served by wells that run deep into an aquifer that is readily replenished during the spring rains (since we live in a karst limestone area). There are lots of places here in the Ozarks that get their water from reservoirs, and when it is hot and dry they do not have the luxury of watering gardens as the water must be conserved for essentials like drinking and bathing. But the water is not free, and I await my next month’s water bill with a certain amount of dread.
Still, the mature trees around here are worth quite a lot; according to some studies mature trees add approximately 2% to the value of a property. I have also read studies that claim that each tree is worth around $1500. Whatever they are actually worth, I am willing to spend a few dollars to keep them alive. Of course, I love my day lilies and hostas too, so I willingly water them. The trees get water peripherally while I water the landscape plantings.
One of the side benefits of running the sprinkler is the amusement I get from watching the birds. When it is so hot, they flock to the spray from the sprinklers, and disport themselves gaily, obviously completely enjoying the cool shower. The cardinals sit in the shrubs and bathe, the robins just stand in the spray and meditate. The grackles hunt for the bugs that are disturbed by the water, occasionally shaking the cooling drops off their gleaming iridescent bodies. Right now we have baby grackles that are following their parents around, begging for morsels. The small birds also enjoy cooling effects of the water.
Yesterday when we were sitting in our pool cooling off, one of the male gold finches stopped by and scolded us severely. Apparently the lack of niger seed in the finch feeder was the problem. So, after I was done bathing, I filled the feeder. The finches are really enjoying it today. It hangs in the shade, and I’m sure it is much more pleasant to land on a full feeder and feast in the shade of the elm tree rather than rummage around for seeds out in the hot sun.
The pond is quite popular right now too. The frogs are utilizing the water along with the dragon flies; the water source in the waterfall is used by all the resident birds. However, there are some of them who prefer the bird bath, and I like it too as it is the view from my dining room window. My favorite time is when the young fledglings are taking bathing lessons, but I enjoy watching it all the time.
The birds are not the only denizens of the yard that use the bird bath. Our bees need a lot of water right now, as they drink large quantities of water and then fly off to the hive and use its evaporative properties to keep the hive cool.
Usually bees are a little camera shy, but this one was so intent on the water that I was able to put the lens right up next to her and use my super macro function to capture her proboscis extended for her drink.