Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Wonder of Birds


Watching a juvenile Mockingbird foraging for food in the grass is natural. No need to hang on feeders now. Really, they don’t need our feeders. I’m looking forward to fall and winter already.


After a few weeks’ hiatus from offering an extravagant buffet, the bird feeders were meticulously scrubbed and filled. I was eager for their return! The birds flock to food, shelter, and water. The pond is located only a few feet to the right of this photo. Bird paradise.




Eager to please, I bought a cotton ball of nesting material for them. Maybe late, I think, but they’re pulling on it.




Blooms on Coneflowers, Butterfly bushes, and Hibiscus are inviting them and the pond is sparkling clean and fresh.

A Cardinal returned, as well as a few Mourning Doves, House Finches, House Sparrows, a Tufted Titmouse, and a Brown Thrasher. I found a Chipping Sparrow on the Crepe Myrtle in front of the house tonight and I quietly cheered! My variety of visitors has greatly diminished in comparison to last year.

Within hours after the restaurant opening, the Starling “screamin’ demons” returned but the Grackles rule. No other birds get in their way.


Imagine twelve Common Grackles bathing and splashing on the pond together. They hear me slide the screen door open and scram. Left behind is a juvenile getting dry. A strikingly beautiful bird, the Grackle is...



The plan now is to keep feeders half-full, part-time. No need for suet, fruit, or nuts. Only sunflower seeds will be served here, unless of course, the bullies leave and allow the sweeter birds to return.


Last week, I felt three eggs in a Robin’s nest in the backyard. I saw her battle Grackles and a few Crows away from her nest. A few days later, the eggs were gone.

I’ve been watching bird behavior closely for over a year. Researching and reading about them is impossible with my schedule the way it is, so I wonder.

Birds react and everything they do is for a reason. They are noticeably aggressive, territorial, fearful, curious, and peaceful. All instinctive behaviors, I believe. But, like our dogs who “feel” and express grief, sadness, or overwhelming joy, do the birds “feel” the same? Do they grieve over their mutilated brood, or feel joy in other ways?

I wonder.

Yeah, I’m “way out there tonight – woo hoo!”. Excuse me, please.

Normally, I'd spend the next hour visiting you... Can't do it. It's bedtime at 9:40 p.m. Pathetic, I know. Too much on plate...tired...I think of all of you every day. I can't even squeeze an hour at work to visit. Sorry... But I look forward to my reading ritual real soon!


Lisa at Greenbow said...

Take er easy there Mary. Love that you can put up a good post like this when so tired. Love seeing those whales your call fish in your pond. Real beauties.

LauraHinNJ said...

Oh Mary... I'm feeling that same crunch, too.

I think birds must miss their eggs and their babies... they invest so much in them, I can't imagine otherwise.

Anonymous said...

No need to feel bad -- get some rest and hopefully things will get better. Running ourselves ragged never works out all that well for anyone (said the woman who does not practice what she preaches!).

Lynne at Hasty Brook said...

I think of you too May. You just rest and get what you need until the big crunch is done.
I've wondered the same things- about animals feeling grief and happiness. I cannot believe that they are without feeling.

Q said...

Dear Mary,
I do think that my birds feel all sorts of emotions! So do my bees and butterflies. I have watched my backyard birds for over thirty years. I have seen male Cardinals be so lonesome when their mate dies that I cry with him.
You can see the pride when a female Robin brings a youngster for rasins. Yep, I think they feel.
Last year I had a Bumble Bee friend.
Do rest when you can. Summer has yet to become "easy" for you. Another month and the heat will be too much and you will have a chance to come visiting.
How are your Hummers?
Mine have been off and on. Did see a male today.
It is bee and butterfly season. Love all your blooms.

Anonymous said...

I hope you get a good night's rest. What a lovely space you've created with the pond and the feeders.

Sorry the gangsta birds came back so soon! How frustrating!

Corey said...

Oh lord . . that murderer's row of feeders gets you the "crazy bird lady" nickname in your neighborhood, doesn't it?

Seriously though, I think the birds feel emotions. When my bluebirds had their first clutch stolen this spring I watched the female at the nestbox. She poked her head in, then pulled it out and looked toward her mate in the tree with utter disbelief as her expression. She repeated this for a few hours, returning often and somehow expecting a different result each time.

But they persevere. I cleaned the box that afternoon and they diligently began building a new nest the very next day. Feelings they have for sure, but they're resilient nonetheless.

Jayne said...

Your feeder set up is impressive Mary, and the pond looks like utopia for the eyes and for the birds! Glad some sweet visitors are returning. Take care of you and get some much needed rest. We'll be here. ;c)

Rose said...

I can see why birds find your garden and yard to be a paradise!
Love all the butterfly photos from Sunday.
Get some rest; the blogs can wait.
I am sitting here reading, waiting for the sump pump to clear the rest of the water out of the basement before starting to clean it--aargh! We've had downpours of rain for 24 hours.

NCmountainwoman said...

You really do have a paradise for the birds. Can't think of anything else they might need.

Take it easy.

Rurality said...

Don't know about other birds, but I can report that (in my experience) ducks don't fret over lost broods. They will hiss and defend their nests like little demons, but the minute after the eggs are gone, they've forgotten them.

I did see a Canada goose that seemed to be positively pining for its lost mate and nest once. But I leave a lot of room for that just being my imagination.

dguzman said...

I had a robin who lost her eggs last year. She has nested right above the feeder, and she worked so hard--all for nothing. With that location, the jays and the other meanies were probably staking out her nest 24-7. Poor dear.

Your bird buffet is very impressive; you've created a little paradise for them! Now take it easy on yourself, buddy, and enjoy the paradise.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your musings - I love getting a peek into your bird observations.

JeanMac said...

I think they know - Dad and I watched a male quail call for his mate for hours - we had to go indoors- too sad, She had been hit by a car.
My brother had a robin build a nest in his clematis - robbed by crows - he found the mama robin exhausted, lying on the lawn, feathers all beaten - trying to defend her babies.

Cheryl said...

Hi Mary....I love the pond area it is so pretty and your fish are real beauties.

Its always a pleasure to see your birds, they are so different from ours........I think birds do have feelings....I remember a little wagtail that lost her eggs, she stood in the area of the nest for ages and then coming back to see if they were there. I found it very sad.
A squirrel took our little dunnocks eggs and nest, rotten squirrel......

Hope you feel less tired soon and get some time to yourself!

Crayons said...

Hi Mary,
I've been away from the Internet for about two weeks, so I'm eager to catch up on your photos.

Thanks for the photo of the juvenile mockingbird. I'd never have identified it.

I also love the cotton ball! I'm going to do that next year.

As always, your photos captivate my eyes.

Carol Michel said...

Hi, Mary, we all struggle to find time to read blogs, as well as post something. My Google reader shows I have 569 unread posts from the blogs I subscribe to, and on yours alone, I am 5 posts behind.

I love to come and see your birds, though, and I'm reminded now that I need to fill my feeders. I think I'll go do that now.

Carol, May Dreams Gardens

Unknown said...

Mary, take care of yourself first. We'll be here when you're rested. Your photos are beautiful! I also wouldn't have identified the mocker.

I have one of those very same nesting material balls too ;-)

Anonymous said...

the mockingbird is stunning and well love all your other photos also!

The Quacks of Life said...

nice to see you birding again.

can I have your light please :D

Kathie Brown said...

So sorry about the the little birds! Have you ever tried feeding safflower seed? I know I have experimented quite a bit with seed because I want to attract my favorites and keep away the pests! Plus, I don't like to have seed sprouting all over the place! I use niger seed the most and supplement with peanuts in a wire cage feeder and then safflower and or sunflower in one feeder only. I don't feed "Wildbird" seed because a lot is wasted, a lot sprouts and it draws in the pests!