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It’s in your nature: Predictable? You bet …

We’ve all heard how unpredictable nature can be. Certainly, a crippling winter ice storm, a blizzard with 30 inches of snow, or a July thunderstorm with destructive winds and hail are examples. We don’t always get a gentle summer rain or a peaceful fluffy snowfall.

But on the other hand I know we can predict what will occur in nature right here in the Times News region. It will be mid-August when you read this column, and by then, some of the thousands of barn swallows in this area will be joining others to begin their long flight to Argentina.

It was gradual, but maybe you noticed that the purple grackles that nested in your spruces early this spring, have joined large mixed flocks of other grackles and “red-wings” to forage in our local forests. By late September those flocks will have moved farther south. It happens every year.

“Whitetail” bucks have just about finished growing their antlers. The 1-inch-a-day growths have slowed and the die is almost cast. That 8-point velvet antlered buck on Aug. 20 will be a proud, shiny-antlered 8-point buck about Labor Day. In only a day or two the velvet covering will have dried and dropped off, revealing the head gear they will keep until mid to late February.

You too have probably noticed that the robins’ singing in the wee hours of the morning has ceased. No longer will they be waking you at 5:15 a.m. In fact, the adults and this year’s young have mostly moved to the forested areas to feed until the urge to migrate to the southern states hits them in October.

About this time each year the last generation of monarch butterfly caterpillars have emerged from their pupal covering and are beginning their long and dangerous flight to Mexico. If you haven’t noticed their flights yet, keep a wary eye open even on a short drive to the grocery store, church or to work. They’ll migrate through our area even into October.

Last week I reminded you to look for great egrets. I first noticed them about three weeks ago. Almost every year they “show up” at about the same time. Probably three weeks from now they’ll again depart back south, heading to their wintering areas. Predictable.

Town residents in Palmerton, Nesquehoning, Lehighton or Jim Thorpe should start looking for nighthawks. I see them almost every evening about an hour and half before dark, flying like big floppy, dark butterflies. Look for them during the first game of the season in the stadium lights where they gobble up the moths attracted there.

Our local trees are predictable, too. Despite claims that a frost causes leaf color changes, you can expect the Times News region to see its best fall foliage about Oct. 12-20. The dwindling daylight is the key. Predictable.

Mark your calendar this year when you see the last swallow, or the first nighthawk migrating. Compare that date with the same time next year. Don’t be surprised that they “keep a calendar!”

No matter, get out there …

Test Your Outdoor Knowledge: The first hawk species to migrate through our region is the ____ hawk. A. Kitty, B. broad-winged, C. red-shouldered, D. red-tailed.

Last Week’s Trivia Answer: Historically, the most influential animal of North America’s grasslands was the American bison.

Contact Barry Reed at breed71@gmail.com.

Nearly two dozen barn swallows perch together in mid-August. Predictably, around Aug. 20 each year they've begun their southward migration. BARRY REED/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS
About the time this paper is published, monarch butterflies are feasting on nectar and beginning their challenging migration to Mexico.
This young “whitetail” buck in velvet will predictably have shed its velvety covering in the first few days of September.