Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Birds: What makes them tick? (second try at posting)

Please take some No-Doze before you start reading or have a cup of coffee, at least. (This is the post that crashed on Tuesday night…sigh...maybe because it's dreadfully long.) Regarding the photos below, I've already used my "best" bird photos in other posts. These are just second or third best and I'm OK with it.

TIME. It’s so important to allow some time every day to enjoy things you love. Today I only took two photos because time wasn’t on my agenda. How could I have botched it up? Silly me… Since the weekend, I took many photos but didn’t schedule time to view them until this evening. I really don’t have the time to be sitting here tonight but I’m putting off some things so I can post here.

I’ve been thinking about this passion I have for birds. For years, I’ve been digging out blizzard-deep snow to fill the feeders and slosh around in heavy rain in the same pursuit. It seems I’ve become fond of something of which I know very little. Should I read more? Yes. Do I make time to read more about the birds? No. So, I just take in the view. And watch. Today I’m commenting on my observations of some birds that have visited me recently. Some of them are new here and others are constant houseguests.


Starlings have been visiting because they’ve discovered the suet and they love a riot. Hmmmph! I call my dogs when I see them. I am seeing that as the seasons change, birds change accordingly.


I listen for birdsong when I take a short walk around campus in the middle of the day. For the past month, I’ve been wondering where the bird is with the huge lungs. A constant, loud call made me scan treetops with no luck in spotting this unusual bird. Until…last Friday I made the connection and what a surprise it was! The sweet chirps I heard all winter long have changed into a boisterous chain of musical notes from a male Cardinal. I saw its throat bulging while he cranked up the volume. I felt so uneducated when I discovered this bird dwells twenty-five feet from my bedroom window.


It would be a terrible shame not to acknowledge the beauty of a female Cardinal. They’re just plain gorgeous!

This afternoon I saw a little glimpse two tiny beaks in the House Finch nest on my front porch! I thought they might be hatching since the female has been sitting higher in her nest for a few days. But where has the mother been since I got home from work a few hours ago?


Out socializing with her Sugar Daddy! I caught her! What about those babies with enough strength to look for food?


The finches residing in this nest are disappointing to me. A pair of Barn Swallows worked their little tail feathers off to build that sturdy nest last summer. They worked together for several weeks until the fledglings took their first flight. I admired their devotion to each other and their family as they completed an exhausting job. How do these relationships form between two birds? I think humans fail at relationships at a faster rate than two small swallows! Two weeks ago, the finches moved in. When they leave the nest, I’ll clean it out and hope the swallows return. The swallows were a pleasure to live with and they knew me well.


Speaking of love and devotion. Here are two soul mates. They perched and preened together on the same branch for almost an hour last night. Reciting poetry together, perhaps?


Speaking of TRUE love and devotion. Bluebirds include exude romance. I could go on with more but...enough said, ey?


No story here. I just like the photo.


A Brown Thrasher has been visiting. It’s always alone but mixes well with the others who are foraging around. It reminds me of a Towhee “thrashing” with loads of energy. It pounds its beak in the brush like a miniature jackhammer. Do birds get headaches?

I can watch birds for hours. Those hours are broken up in small increments, though. Feed fish – watch birds. Play with dogs – watch birds. Throw dinner in the oven – watch birds for five minutes. Throw a load of laundry in the tub – watch birds for five minutes. Oh, I need a part-time job!!!


When you look up “bravery”, “egotism”, or “camera hog” in Merriam Webster’s dictionary, you should see an illustration of a Mockingbird. I saw two or three Mockers attack and chase a Fish Crow out of my yard and did it successfully. I’m learning to respect them despite their early morning wake-up calls. They dare me to get closer when I have a camera around my neck and it makes me laugh!


Birds of a feather flock together but unlike humans, they’re able to peacefully gather at the same table for a meal despite the number of species present, i.e. ethnic origins or races. Oh, they do squabble! I don’t think they hold grudges, though.


It took one Common Grackle to visit. Then he spread the word to his first, second, and third cousins, plus all of his other distant relatives to visit the suet. Large flocks of these seemingly starving birds arrive and the suet flies like over-popped popcorn all over the stove. I call my dogs out to play in the yard. Enough, already!

Grackles remind me of some managers and directors I’ve worked with in the past…

They have been away on a business trip for a while.
They fly into town and arrive at the office screaming, shouting, and pissing everyone off.
After raiding the office and pooping all over the place, they fly out again on another business trip.
We all think, “good riddance"!

My lovely little favorites weren’t featured in this post. I would only want to show wonderful photos of Chickadees and Titmice. Check out Jayne’s blog for great photos of birds. Her sidebar includes these two eye pleasers.

I don’t know if any of this will make sense to others but I know what I’m learning. Every day.


Q said...

Hi Mary,
I enjoyed your bird walk! I too spend as much time as possible out with the birds! Your story was delightful.
Thank you too for the link to Jane's birds. Getting to know birds near and far is a total delight to me.
Thanks. Such fun.

Cathy said...

Mary - that is so precious. I can not believe the wonderful birds you've got there in your own yard. I do hope your Barn Swallows return. What a great shot on your porch banister. So sweet. Your Grackle metaphors are a hoot.

amarkonmywall said...

The worst part is they poop green and purple and manage to do it sideways onto the house. (sorry). THIS was a great post. Why aren't you hosting Good Planets? You have the best combination of photos and text, Mary. It sounds to me as though you have a part time job already.

I have a good pair of cardinals down here in Florida and that reminds me of home in Michigan where I had more than a dozen nesting in the forsythia each Spring. Your swallows are as lovely as can be. I've never had them in the yard anywhere, but seeing these...they're fine!

dmmgmfm said...

Great pictures as always, Mary. You are a delightful read!

LauraHinNJ said...

I think this post was more about what makes Mary tick.

I'm glad you love the birds, Mary.

Anonymous said...

The amazing thing about cardinals is how very well camouflaged they are when they are such a bright red.

Susan Gets Native said...

I get it, Mary. And I am proud of you that you get it.

Does that sound too patronizing? I don't mean it to. I just get overjoyed when I see others appreciating birds. There is so much to learn and observe.

Anonymous said...

You got some really good bird shots for this post Mary. This is the best month up here to see the birds. The leaves are not out yet, so they show up well in the trees.

Glad you identified the cardinal, he does have some volume, doesn't he?

Jayne said...

Yea! Blogger didn't crash on you!!! Love all the photos and your observations Mary. Thanks for the kind link to my photos. I just don't think anything in life brings me more consistent joy than just observing the birds in my yard. I, like you, am still learning something new every day.

Ruth said...

A person does not need to be an expert to enjoy nature and birds. Like you, I do not have a lot of time for intensive study, but if I learn one new meaningful thing a day, I am happy. I learn from you too, Mary.

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

Oooh, I love your description of grackles!! Too funny! I've always been a bit insecure about calling myself a birder. My id ability isn't great, I really don't know a lot about bird anatomy and physiology. I buy lots of books with the intention of learning great chunks of info, but never seem to get around to doing it. Birds lift me up. Their songs, flight, colors and form, all draw me toward them. I love your passion and I get it too!

sonia a. mascaro said...

Thanks Mary, for your nice comment today!

I just write now a thanks to you on my current post, because YOU TOO, was kindness to teaching me about download huge photos. Sorry my belated thank you! Hugs!

Anonymous said...

Just love all your bird photos and expecially the swallow and thrasher picture! Great work and sorry you couldn't get these up the day before!

Chrissie said...

Wow. You have some pretty good pics yourself! Well done. I love to look at these pics, yours birds do seem to be more brightly coloured than ours. A joy to see them :-)

dguzman said...

Great post as usual, Mary--now I know someone else's brain works herky-jerky just like mine. Kat always says that my train of thought doesn't bother to stay on the tracks; it's like the Wonka-vator, able to go up, down, sideways, longways, byways, and everywhichways.

I read that barn swallows don't usually go back to the same nest each year because of mites and other parasites; however, they will often build a nest right next to last year's. The barn swallows at Neighbor Ed's do that, going in the same hole each year and building a new nest.

Mary said...

Sherry, your photos are fantastic. You must spend a lot of time with them...

Cathy, you like my Grackle metaphors? So do I!

Vicki, the swallows covered my porch and house with poop - I had to scrub daily during the last two weeks...sigh.

Laurie, thanks!

Laura, maybe I'm trying to figure out how Mary ticks...

healingmagichands, you're right! The cardinals were well hidden for a long time.

Susan, I'm glad you get it that I get it.

Sandy, the leaves are getting in my way now which will prove to be a challenge. And I did read about Wordpress...thanks for the comment yesterday.

Jayne, Blogger was kind to me last night but I won't forget the night prior...grrrrr.

Ruth, I not only learn something each day but I get to escape to a nicer place :o)

Lynne, I'm glad you understand my rambling babble.

Sonia, it was my pleasure.

Mon@rch, thanks for the compliment - coming from you means a lot!

Chris, they look brighter on some days more than others...

Delia, we do think like a Wonka-vator! LOL! Thanks for the tip on the swallow nest. I'll be looking for them...