Home Again

Note: I have a few posts coming up centered around pictures, but, of course, considering that the posts are written by yours truly who writes fiction chronologically but lives her life askew of time (ha!), they will not be in the ordered lived.

Brood X, 17-Year Cicadas

My home in Northern Virginia is being visited by Brood X cicadas, which rise up from ground every 17 years to give residents something new to focus on…or eat. Yep. Nope, to that last one. No cicada meals will be devoured in my house, unless Sophie decides to try one.

When I left for the beach, the temperatures were still roller coastering, which they continued to do while I was away. For the cicadas who love to woo their potential mates in warm temps (who can blame them?), cooler temps were off-putting. I saw only one live one before going to the beach. Now, however, there are swarms. Some are dead from either colliding with windows, becoming food, or from a weird fungal disease that eats away their bodies. The one thing about them is that they are loud. Here’s a video I took a few moments ago. Usually when I look up at the willows, I’ll see some flying around, which I didn’t observe in the video (maybe you’ll have better luck). But…you will hear them. That steady hum in the background is the cicada hum. Turn up your speakers for full appreciation.

Willows blowing in the breeze, harboring cicadas and their hum, with some bright birds songs.

Here are pictures of the cicadas.

Empty cicada shells.
Cicada on the wall.

The following picture is for ADULT viewing only. 😉

Cicadas ensuring that there will be future cicadas.

Bird Disappearance

With the advent of the cicadas, there has been a strange, very sad occurrence with the bird population. As you know from my past posts, I am very keen on blue jays and love to watch them swoop down one after another to take peanuts. Before we went away, I noticed that the peanuts just weren’t dwindling. My first thought was that it’s baby season and maybe the birds weren’t leaving the nests, although I didn’t notice a similar situation last year.

After returning, I’ve heard that blue jays, grackles, perhaps robins, and probably others have been affected by some type of disease that clouds their eyes, causes blindness, and eventually kills the birds. While I haven’t seen this, and don’t care to, I have seen the disappearance of all of the grackles, the cowbird pair that has returned like clockwork every year, and all except for one blue jay that I saw yesterday swoop in for peanuts. And my beautiful little wrens are also MIA. Considering that my computer/workspace is next to a set of French doors where the peanuts are, it just isn’t possible that I’ve simply overlooked them. Not to mention the fact that grackles and blue jays are noisy vocal birds and the aural landscape is different without them.

The Virginia Wildlife organization is looking into the bird deaths and has taken samples. I’m hoping to hear more. It does seem too coincidental that the bird deaths have occurred at the same time as the cicadas have emerged. Hopefully, it’s not due to pesticides that some people have used to keep the cicadas away. When I learn of the results, I will share them.

Sascha D 6/3/21

11 replies »

  1. Oh my gosh… I haven’t heard about the bird disease at all. Is that only in VA? I hope it goes away. I can’t stand the thought of losing jays. They’re one of my favorites, and I would miss them so much.

    The cicadas are so cool and so loud! Thanks for sharing the video and pics. ❤️

    • There’ve been a lot of cases in MD, DC & Virginia. But there seems to be reports from Maine, Ohio, and West Virginia. I wrote to the Blue Ridge Wildlife Center and they’re hoping that results will be available soon. It’s incredibly disheartening to see so few birds in my yard.

      I agree: the cicadas are cool. I could barely have a conversation outside because of how loud they are—constantly. Amazing things!

      Thank you! 🙂

  2. You and my brother–bitch, bitch, bitch about cicadas. I’ll trade those any day for my ticks. Re sick birds: finches get conjunctivitis which can crust over their eyes, leaving them virtually blind. I used to catch the infected birds and treat them (under vet supervision). Maybe this bacteria is spreading to other birds. It’s a horrible disease and so sad to watch. Something that helps, if you’re not already doing it, is to clean feeders regularly so the bacteria from an infected bird isn’t picked up by a healthy bird. Clean with bleach.

    • It’s not conjunctivitis. It seems to be something neurological that affects their balance.

      Did I bitch? Moi? I think they’re kind of cool. Of course, I don’t have a dog who eats them and then vomits, so it’s all good here.

      However, I’ve just gotten my 4th mosquito bite since being back. I will bitch about that. And, yep, ticks are a massive problem. Babesiosis seems to be the big disease of the month. We’ve got all of those…so we got you beat. 😉

    • Yes. We have the sound yearly but never quite to this extent. It is seriously something. I’m glad to have experienced it because the cicada boom wasn’t happening at the beach and I was quite excited to return to find it still in full swing. I think they’ll only be around for another 2 weeks and then bye-bye for 17 years.

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