Monday, March 16, 2009

Cottonwood Salve and Snow Buntings

If your baby falls asleep in the car consider yourself one of the lucky few. My baby just so happens to be one the members of this joyous club. During the early days of spring it has afforded me the opportunity to go birding mid afternoon.

Much to my enjoyment I have taken advantage of these splendid occasion to glass the glacier country side for migrant arrivals and winter farewell birds. This includes my spot of 15+ Snow Buntings in the West Valley Region of Montana. The males were in a spectacular transition from winter to breeding plumage. Bodies representing the summer plumage and heads adorning their winter colors. They have since departed on their journey to the Alaskan Coast for the summer.

Over the weekend we went looking for Cottonwood branches. I collected the Cottonwood Buds to macerate a medicinal salve for cuts, wounds and pain. Cottonwood buds are very aromatic, like sweet cindered honey, and exude a sticky ochre resin. After several months of soaking in an organic olive oil bath, the oil will be strained and added to a little beeswax. This medicinal salve is commonly known as the Balm of Gilead and highly therapeutic. The buds were collected around the full moon so the medicinal properties are being drawn out by the moons vibration. The branches fall reticently during wind storms as was the case for our collection. This stand of cottonwoods was along the Flathead River. Branches were laying on the icy shoreline that was beginning to melt.

I give the oils a vigorous shake daily. The resin is already making it's way into the oil and smells oh so delicious. Being from the willow family, Cottonwood has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as, cell proliferation constituents. It is best used on painful joints, burned skin and open cuts.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Biking Bald Eagles

Melting snow and new seeds coming up make me dream of biking in the warm sun with my little sprout. I found this great bike seat attachment. The features I like

Easy to Attach

Not Bulky

Fits on the front of my Mountain Bike

Muds not flying up on your little one

Better baby view for them and for me!

We were taking a snowy walk on one my bike trails and saw 3 Bald Eagles today. Mom and Dad plus their juvenile. A raven was dive bombing one of the adults to move them out of his territory. They were all casually riding a thermal. A Red Tailed Hawk came in as well and the Raven promptly chased it off.

Eagle calls are so beautiful. Very High Pitch and Lucid. Their wing span is phenomenal-80" or nearly 6ft 7inches. They are a common site in Montana and no less majestic.

Birds are precise indicators of season and weather changes. One of our summer migrants will be arriving from Oregon and Washington---Varied Thrush---Males of most migratory species have strong site fidelity. They return to the same nesting territories year after year. So it is possible the singing migrant who visits your woods is the same male from the year before.

I love the sound of town right now. It's like walking around in a zen water garden. The water is trickling and dripping off roofs and coursing down the road. Male birds are singing and enticing females. Hearing is so heighten this time of year after the long winter silence.

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