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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Observations of a casual birdwatcher


I have turned all of our trees into orange trees for the benefit of the Baltimore orioles, beautiful and the exact color of the oranges they eat, with the sharp contrast of glossy black back, wings and head. Acrobatic, they don't mind perching practically on their heads so long as it gets them in position to nosh on orange slices.






By accident my orange sections attracted a red bellied woodpecker who arrives with several dry little coughs, and whose kookaburra-like sound I didn’t know until I saw him produce it just before he flew off. He doesn't know he's eating oranges from Hannaford supermarket; according to my Audubon book, he thinks he's eating wild fruits.

I hope he doesn't have a taste for plums, pears, and cherries, now that I've habituated him to finding food in those trees.

The hummingbirds delight me, tiny territorial warriors that they are. During any watching session there is always one who takes control of a feeder, flying off a short distance to lurk in the birch tree and swooping in to chase away any others who chance by. (Read others' interpretations of "Warrior" at Inspire Me Thursday.)


Often a male will perch on the shepherd’s crook that holds a feeder, skyward-angled head abruptly turning right and left on the watch for competitors, a miniscule FDR with cigarette holder.


The swallows have returned to their sturdy, but to my eye, inartistic nest in the woodshed. Last night the pair entertained me for an hour with their balletic moves. I went indoors for a few minutes. When I returned MiMau sprawled triumphantly next to something that looked horrifyingly similar to a felled swallow, with one bird menacing her by deeply plunging dives. I wanted to go see, but didn’t want to know.
I sat and looked for ten minutes from my chair forty feet from the scene, and finally had to go find out if there had been a killing. It was not a dead swallow, but a piece of bark. Jubilation.

Not so jubilant a story…

When I originally opened the bluebird box I thought it was already abandoned, and started to pull out the nesting material before I saw the eggs. After reading about Northview Diary’s baby robin, my envy inspired me to recheck the bluebird box, hoping to find that the four blue eggs would have become four tiny widely-gaping mouths.
The nest remains and there is evidence that efforts were made to reinforce it against predation: the front part has been built up into a sort of wall.

Two eggs remain.

But I believe it has been abandoned because of my intrusion. I feel terrible about that, and won’t be nosing around in future bluebird nesting sites.

4 comments:

Carolynn said...

How clever of you to put out orange slices to attract the birds. I'll bet they're thoroughly enjoying their bounty. Birds are truly amazing creatures that are fascinating to watch. They seem always to be busy, even when they're at rest.

I'm very pleased to hear that your pup is not a birddog...

It would be sad if the eggs didn't hatch, however, if that's the case, it may be because of a host of other reasons.

kt said...

I never thought of my h's looking like FDR, but you are right! I got a great shot of two of them arguing over the feeder but unlike most they finally settled down and shared. I was amazed. I love watching the big U courting dance and looking for the female who is somewhere passing judgement.
Today we saw our first ros-y breasted grosbeak at the feeder--I love them and for some reason christened one male Ralph years ago and so forever after my family calls the males Ralph! LOL And I have two cats who do not bring birds home to me anymore--since I go ballistic--( I'm sure they just do their normal predation out of my sight now,alas!) Family laughs at me when I open porch door to let one out and announce loudly and rapidly--cat,cat, cat --for all the feathered friends to hear.

June said...

Carolynn, MiMau is not only not a bird dog, she's a cat. ;-)

kt, isn't that sweeping whirring courting maneuver just amazing? They're very entertaining little critters!

kt said...

Guess, what June, the phoebes have hatched and Mom and Dad are feeding them. They are using a nest they built last year above my mudroom window. It is quite an asymmetrical skyscraper but apparently they like it.