Friday, May 13, 2011

When Viticulture and Ornithology Collide

By John Kaiser, Vineyard Manager

First and foremost, I would like to clear up my current Avifauna issue. Is it Kildare, or Killdeer? And why am I concerned with this situation? The answer is simple: it doesn’t matter with whom I discuss this matter; no one is certain what this bird's true name is. 

To put an end to it all, Kildare is a county in Leinster Province, Eastern Ireland. Killdeer, named for its cry, is a North American bird of the plover family, with a high, piercing cry and a habit of faking a broken wing to distract predators from its nest. The killdeers' arrival at Fox Run Vineyards typically means that I have two to three weeks to tie and prune all of the vines prior to bud-break. 

This guy's one of my favorites. I call him Bruce.

It is now four weeks since the Killdeers' arrival, and indeed the buds have broken. Rainfall is three inches higher than normal, and while I have finished pruning, tying will not be completed until Friday the thirteenth at the earliest. Hopefully the remainder of the trellis work will be finished before the killdeer decide to depart. Trellis work, for those of you that do not know the term, is the process of repairing broken posts and wire that were damaged during the last growing season. 

It has been my observation that the killdeer leave shortly before bloom begins, and at times I wish I could follow their flight patterns. In my experience, there never seems to be enough time to accomplish the tasks the vineyard demands of the vineyard crew.

To wrap this up, and make sense of it all: as quickly and predictably as  the killdeer leave, they return; and harvest, in turn, is imminent. 

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