For days, I looked for the 13-year cicadas (magicicada). I heard them singing in the distance. The cicadas appeared on the news after viewers reported a persistent buzzing noise that sounded like aliens landing. Supposedly these cicadas were everywhere, en masse, emerging from the ground to attract a mate, lay eggs and disappear underground for another 13 years. A phenomenon both fascinating and creepy.
So why weren't they emerging in my garden? I didn't particularly want to see large numbers of them crawling on my plants, like in this Missouri garden. Yet I have deliberately formed my garden to be attractive to insects because insects are vital parts of a healthy ecosystem and the staple of most birds' diets. So where were they?
My first sighting was a little disappointing - a dead cicada in the road. The round black body, huge red eyes and translucent wings are key identifiers.
Yesterday I noticed the juvenile bluebird was back. I hadn't seen it in days and worried it had fallen prey to a cat or crow. The bluebird was hopping on the ground. And what did it have in its beak? A cicada!
At first the bluebird carried the cicada about.
Then it began moving and twisting its head while banging the cicada on the railroad tie. I couldn't figure out what it was doing - was the big cicada proving too much for the bluebird to swallow?
The juvenile bluebird clearly knew just what to do. Only the torn off wings remain in the photo below.
Watching birds is far far better entertainment than TV ...