When the birds of summer replace the rough-legged hawk, emperor geese and swans, the grass turns green and the fish begin feeding on midges. Then comes a small but irritating hatch of mosquitoes, then pale morning duns.
It is the ubiquitous red-winged black bird, however, that I watch the closest because they let me know when the black drakes are going to hatch. I take my kayak out on the river most evenings in late spring and creep up to their nests built in the sedges along the river's edge.
For weeks I check on the eggs regularly. Not much happens. Then one day I'll notice a crack in several eggs as I make my way downstream. I know that all the red-winged babies will be hatched within a couple of days.
The amazing thing is that within 24 hours of the first hatchlings arrival, the black drakes will start to appear.
There are few things in nature that so clearly reveal the precision with which mother nature orchestrates the interconnectedness of life. As thousands of baby birds are born throughout the valley an abundant supply of protein becomes instantly available.
The trout are ravenous as well, and millions of black drakes provide easy meals.