Wednesday, July 1, 2020

One Bird Too Far


baby
So many things going on during nesting season if you're paying attention. The trill of victory, the agony of de tiny little feet! Everywhere one soap opera after another is playing out. Studley and Marge plumb disappeared shortly after the scrub jay incident and didn't show up for worms even though we extended our beer-thirty hours JUST for them, and we had no idea where they went or even if they still...were. The resident crows are just past the stage where their baby has plummeted from the treetops and been grounded for a few days, and we knew that because every so often we heard a great cawcophany from the neighbor's yard followed by two little kids screaming their heads off and dashing back into the house. It was very satisfying. Now the crow baby is aloft for good and pecking around the garden beds with its blue eyes and gape-remnant lips and it will soon be the best-looking one of the bunch, because the adults are all about to go gappy and drop their feathers.

Then Studley came back with three of his little guys in tow! They're not any littler than he is, of course, but they're beebling away in the trees waiting for Daddy to show up with snacks, and we couldn't be relieveder. They too can be recognized by their shiny new suits and I do believe they outweigh their father too, because as usual he has worked himself skinny. His molt will start any day now. Last year by this time he had a ragged cheek bib and a bald spot on his head. This year his head feathers look okay but he's had this one feather sticking up on his back for weeks. I tried to smooth it down once but Studley has stopped just short of allowing me to touch him in a personal fingery way. And I know this because it's everything I can do to keep from chucking the little dude under the chin.

wayward feather
And because it is not enough to have a private tit to show off to your friends, my niece was inspired to try to entice a pair of juncos that were nesting in her yard, and succeeded in getting them and their babies to take food from her hand, and start a new brood, and get those babies to do the same, and, what the hey, the local song sparrows seemed to show an interest too, and what with one thing and another, she is basically encrusted with birds every time she walks outside. Dave shakes his head. Brewster girls, he says, without elaborating.

It's not a competition, but I will point out she doesn't have a chickadee yet.

And so I'm happy that I've made my garden a destination resort for the feathered set, and contemplate what more I can provide, because birds are awesome in every way, but I would like to mention that I the hell did not mean I wanted freaking pigeons nesting under my solar panels with their stupid breathy cooing like they're fat little Olivia Newton-Johns in a world of opera stars and all walking around like they do with their tiny stupid heads poinking along behind them like they're trying to catch up to their own plumpety bodies. But there they are flapping down to the rental house's gutter and coming back up to our roof with big old sticks because not only do we have freaking pigeons committing lavish poopination under our solar panels but sure enough we didn't get around to clearing out the gutters last season and thanks for reminding us.

I know I'm supposed to be more even-handed about this as a bird lover but I really don't care for pigeons much at all or the whoop-whoop-whoop Three Stooges routine they do or their unmatched outfits, the best of which look like a motor oil slick in a puddle, walking around all dumb and eating white bread preferentially, and I know they have plenty of admirers and can do some amazing things such as find their way home even from a very great distance, which they can go ahead and do any time now as far as I'm concerned and I hope it's way the hell across the ocean.

37 comments:

  1. I shudder thinking about having pigeons nesting on my house. Nope, I wouldn't want it either.

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    1. I've also got squirrels nesting in my woodpile and no, that's not a euphemism.

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  2. You know it was Brewsters that got me more interested in our feathered friends back in nineteen ought seventy. Your fascinations are infectious. Let's hope your infections aren't fascinating.

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    1. "Nineteen ought seventy??? Jono... are you from the future.....?

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    2. Yet others call me a dinosaur.

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    3. It was a Brewster that showed me my Spark Bird (western tanager), but in my case it isn't much of a coincidence.

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  3. How about a rubber snake near the nest building? It might work.

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    1. I've been staring under those panels and I can't see any sticks at all, but I KNOW they went in there with them, and I keep seeing them come out. That's the other thing: they make raggedy bad nests. No pride of place.

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  4. Paul teases me about with my obsession with our resident baby blue jays, who I call "Lillijay" and "Bilijay" (shortened from "little little jay" and "big little jay" as one is obviously a day or two older than the other.) They love to hang out by our pond in the early morning, and especially toward evening. I don't know why I find them so fascinating as they don't do anything out of the ordinary. It must be their paranormal degree of cuteness. That, and their mom goes to the window to scold me for looking at her kids in a creepy way. She'll even follow me to other windows when I'm just minding my own business (which, admittedly, is rarely.)

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  5. I tend to favor native avian species over imported; thus, was delighted a few days ago to see a Blue Jay jab its beak at a European Starling (gorging on one of our peanut feeders) until the starling took flight. Yay!

    It reminded me of an incident back in the early 1990s when I observed a Hill Mynah among a small flock of starlings in our back yard. Someone must have been looking for it!

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    1. I really like starlings. I'm not supposed to. I'm a bad birder.

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    2. To each her own, Murr. My husband thinks me weird because I won't deny water to any bird - not even a starling - and as long as our resident starling or two are at the feeders, I don't mind. It is when they call in their 300 nearest buddies that my nose gets out of joint.

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    3. But that's when they get REALLY FUN! Oh my, to see my starlings feasting on overripe grapes and falling off the vines...

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  6. I know it’s heresy, but I call sparrows Trash Birds. They are an invasive species, out of place, mostly unattractive, squabblesome and greedy. You can legally “do something” about them, and that doesn’t even apply to my second least favorite, The Brown-headed Cowbird. If we stay at home long enough in pandemic isolation, I might get around to experimenting with some “somethings” to do with the sparrows, and that’s really messed up.

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    1. Might it involve a teeny tiny pellet gun?

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    2. Glad you mentioned that: as birders we're supposed to love'em all, right ? My peeve is mourning doves, w. their mindless coo-cooing, never a varied thought in their tiny tiny heads- they poop in the birdbath & nest in the trees to wake us @ dawn, calling all their buddies to invade/take over, crowding out the kingbirds & finches. Them & the woodpeckers w. aggressive loud habits...otherwise it's an oasis here...

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    3. Not all sparrows are unprotected. Please be careful with your crusade.

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    4. Mourning doves? Their song is complex and delightful compared to the ring-necked buggers that have now taken over the country. Mourning dove song with no pitch change. Ah, they're all basically pigeons.

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    5. I am reminded of our granddaughter (37 years old, now, but 10 years old, then) when she wanted me to identify the "ugly" bird on the ground outside the window. I found that she was seeing a mourning dove - whose colors I find beautiful.

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  7. You are funny even in your un-even-handedness! I had bird feeders up for six months a few years back, and saw more nature than I wanted to. Big birds driving the little birds away, hordes of starlings taking everything that wasn't nailed down, squirrels lying down in the feeder in order to scoop more into their jaws, and deer that emptied the feeder in one gulp. The LITTLE birds, the ones I really wanted to help, because awww they're cute and disadvantaged, hardly got to eat a thing. I gave up. Guess what? The finches and chickadees and sparrows hung around anyhow, and the big guys are nowhere to be seen. And wherever they may be now, throwing their weight around - and you know they are - my poor little eyes don't have to see it. Nature is beautiful but cruel, and I don't want to see any more of it than I have to, because I can't do a darn thing about it. And everybody has to eat.

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    1. You could research different seed feeders. Mine totally thwarts squirrels, for instance, and you could get a thistle feeder with a cage around it that only the little guys can get into. I'm sure there are lots of choices. Go for it!

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  8. When I was a girl (I'm on Medicare now - you do the math), we lived in the country, and my dad, who was as soft-hearted as they come, couldn't stand the abundance of house sparrows. His solution, such as it was, centered on an old cracker tin that he lined with dishtowels and into which he periodically poured a bit of ether. He set up a Havahart bird trap, from which he would release any other species of small birds that blundered in. However, each captured house sparrow was quickly popped into the cracker tin with the lid put back on tightly for awhile. After that, the little corpse would be added to our trash-burning pile for cremation. My dad probably didn't make much of a dent in the sparrow population, but he found the effort satisfying.

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  9. We recently had a family group of White-winged Choughs visit us for the first time. A bonus to their visit (which I didn't need) is that they see off the pigeons. And isn't being able to hand feed birds WONDERFUL. I have to keep my stroking fingers tamed too.

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    1. I've never heard of ANY kind of choughs and now I have to have one. I think I need to visit. Post-COVID. (I'd really love to.)

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  10. I was really enjoying seeing the fledgelings arriving at my feeders and bird bath... until the black rat showed up. It was interesting seeing the response. I figured he was wild, they were wild, shouldn't be that big of a deal. Wrong. The squirrels and the chipmunk tore off and the birds flew away. Meanwhile the rat sauntered over to help himself to sunflower seeds and a drink. Well, that was the end of the feeding and the ground level watering until the yard is declared rat-free.

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    1. Wow! They were ALL afraid of the rat? Is that a thing? I mean, I kind of am.

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  11. 1. Pigeons deserve better
    2. Only house sparrows are non- native. Other sparrows are protected (just wanna be sure Nance knows that.)
    3. I had a pet house sparrow once. I taught hurt to hop off my finger and catch grasshoppers and how to fly. Pollyanna was cool.
    4. I want a parakeet. Not as cool as Studley but I think it would like me.

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    1. I'm sure pigeons deserve much better than I'm giving them, but I freely admit to unreasonable bias. I can be swayed. My only childhood pet was a parakeet named Duffy. I liked Duffy fine but now I think we should keep our pets to the standard domesticated sort, your dogs and your (indoor) cats, for instance. Seems like such a shame to imprison a bird.

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  12. I'm imagining your niece encrusted with birds, what a sight that must be.
    I agree about the pigeons, I'm sure they have their place in the world, but let that not be my place. Or yours.

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    1. She's real little. It doesn't take THAT many birds to make a crust.

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  13. I try to remember that they are Rock Doves which gives them a little more romance, but....yea, I'm really not a fan of pigeons either. However,if they get plumpy enough, and are a large enough group on the ground, a Coopers Hawk may find them! I had a Coop grab one right in my driveway. What a scene that was...you would have loved it!!

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    1. I thought you were going to get around to the word "squab". But no. Alas.

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    2. "Squab" speaks for itself. And yes Mikibird I would've loved it! Although I will never know how you know it's a Cooper's or a Sharpie. Never.

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  14. Nice pants. Can I test the zipper? Hey, i am looking for an online sexual partner ;) Click on my boobs if you are interested (. )( .)

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