Category Archives: Birds

Working to Eat

 

The pileated woodpecker has to work for his meals. This is Woody, who came to check out the old fir stump in my overgrown veggie garden. Notice how his tongue sticks out now and then to help lick up anything  he finds crawling around inside the wood.

After he had his meal, he flew into the forested area around the side of our house to have dessert at one of the other stumps we’ve left there.

I followed him to try to get another photo and was surprised when Junior flew in and landed in a tree quite close to me. You can tell that this is a young bird, maybe a female because of no red malar stripe (moustache). The red on her head is not as brilliant as it will be when she matures.

By the time I recovered from the surprise of her appearance, and refocused the camera, the backyard superintendents woke up from sleeping on the job, and came along barking their fool heads off, scaring the birds away.

I sighed, but couldn’t really reprimand them. After all, they are bird dogs.

 

 

The Dinner Table

My garden is a tangled mess this year because I’ve hurt my back and can’t bend down to pull out the weeds. (That’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it.) The flowers have been so generous about hiding the weeds until I’m feeling better. They’ve done such a good job that no self-respecting bird would think it was a place for humans only. One of my visitors recognized it immediately as “tamed gone wild” and made himself at home there.  He exuded confidence and a sense of ownership, only knocking once he was already  in the door.

What he knocked on was once a huge fir that stood too close to our house. We had to cut it down many years ago and only a low stump was left. After today, I’m glad, for the first time, that we didn’t try to auger out the stump and get rid of it. Apparently it made a good dinner table for Woody, the pileated woodpecker. The spellchecker insists on calling him a pillaged woodpecker, and it is partly true. He does have a pillaging nature.

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“Pillaging? … Me? A bird’s gotta eat!”

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“Now, hold on just a minute. I think some of my dinner fell off the table top.”

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“Do you think it would be polite to crawl under there to get it? I suppose if it fell on the floor, I should leave it … but it looks so good.”

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“Hmm … What to do … what to do???”

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“Oh, to heck with it. I think I can get it from up here. I’m gonna go for it.”

 

Stay tuned for the next installment, coming soon to a computer near you.

 

P.S.  I have just found out that the male pileated woodpecker has the red malar stripe (moustache), while the female does not have it. So this is definitely MR Woodpecker.

Humming and Buzzing

Who’s that humming such a happy tune? Oh! It’s my friend Humphrey.

“Thanks for planting these red hot pokers,” he says. “I love the sweet nectar in them.”

“My long beak and even longer tongue are ideal for reaching down into  these petals shaped like tubes.”

“But, look out Humphrey,” I call to him. “A dangerous character is heading right for you.”

“Eeeee! Thanks for the heads up,  Anneli. These guys usually mind their own beesness. Still, I have to be careful or I could get stung.”

“Maybe he’ll pass right over my wings.”

“Look over your shoulder, Humphrey!”

“Oh no-o-o-o! Here he comes again. Buzz off!”

(You’ll have to look hard to see what’s over Humphrey’s shoulder.)

“I know you’ll think I’m a coward, but I’m going to hide for a minute. These guys can be dangerous. Their sting can pack quite a wallop for a little guy like me.”

“You can come out now,” I tell him. “I think he’s gone.”

“Thanks for watching out for me, Anneli,”  Humphrey hums between slurps of red hot poker syrup.

“Well, take it easy on the dessert, Humphrey. You’re starting to get a little belly.”

“Ha ha, very funny.” Humphrey sips  as fast as he can, then suddenly stops and glances down to his right. “Oh no-o-o-o-o. I thought I heard him buzzing. Here he comes again!”

“Bzz-bzz-bzz,” says the little critter. “I’m just beeeeing a beeee.”

Do you see him?

 

 

Baby Robin’s Regimen

My mother says I have to learn to preen and groom myself. She’s sitting up in the walnut tree, watching for danger while I fix up my feathers.

I’ll start with my throat and shoulders.

Then the right armpit …

and the left armpit.

Looks like that one needs a better job done on it. I think I broke out in a sweat when that crow flew over. Better give myself an extra preening there.

What are you looking at? Can’t a bird have any privacy?

Oh, I see! You think I made that mess on the fence rail? I have no idea how that got there.

Just check that shoulder again.

Now this one is really tricky. You have to be able to bend a lot. No problem for me!

One last good stretch to help my wing muscles grow,

and I’ll be soaring with the falcons. Well, maybe not the falcons, but soon I’ll be able to keep up with mom and dad.

Here I go!

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More “Snow”

As one of our bloggers mentioned in the last post, there is another kind of snow lying around these days. I found some just down the street. I believe this huge tree is a cottonwood or its relative, a grey poplar. Its  fuzz-covered seeds now fill the air and lie on the sides of the road, looking like real snow.

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The black cottonwood that I’ve seen in Montana has darker bark, and leaves that are more rounded than those of this tree. This is why I wondered about it being a grey poplar instead, although they are still related.

The fluffy bits are like cotton balls, and maybe this is where the cottonwood got its name.

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I’m so glad this snow will eventually blow away and that we don’t have to shovel it. Quite possibly it makes good fluff for lining a bird’s nest.

Do you have any fake snow where you live?

The Lookout

The Captain has been working on the hull of the boat at the annual haulout. He’s had to take the boat to a haulout facility several hours’ run from home.

The work is nearly done and I think he’ll soon be home.

Do you think that could be him coming into the bay, Mr Robin?

Well, Admiral Anneli, I can be your lookout. I’ve got a good view here, but I don’t know…. I see a boat, but it could be anybody.

I sure hope it’s him. The lawn needs mowing. I need him to come home.

I wouldn’t get my hopes up if I were you. Could be anybody. Lots of boats around here.

 

It’s a fishboat, but it’s too far away to tell if it’s the Captain. No … maybe not ….

I’ve got good eyes, but I can’t see that far. I’m not an eagle, you know.

What do you see now? Are you looking around the corner?

Yes … I’m just making sure he finds his way into the harbour.

Can’t be the Captain then. He knows his way, no problem.

Probably not him then. Better get that lawn mower fired up yourself.

So Admiral, when do you think he’ll be home then?

Oh, any time now. Soon….

Harrumpfff! Why don’t you just mow that lawn before it rains? Don’t you know it’s harder for me to find worms when the grass gets too long? My children are depending on me to bring them food.

That’s the last time I’m going to bother worrying about the Captain coming home. I don’t care who cuts the grass as long as it gets done. I need access to those worms.

I only stopped to rest my wings

And not to worry over things.

The railing seemed a perfect place

I stood there tall with style and grace.

A fishing boat was cruising past,

Perhaps the Captain, home at last.

The Admiral needs a helping hand

To cut the grass that’s on their land.

It suits me fine to have him back

As things ’round here are kind of slack.

Let’s hope the next boat in the bay

Will be her Captain home to stay.

For a while….

Another Scavenger

Perhaps not quite as likely to eat litter as a crow is, the seagull is still a bit of a scavenger. He’s not very choosy about what he eats. Whatever is handy (usually animal matter) on or near the beach, or  even farther out on the water, is good enough to qualify for a meal. Fish guts thrown overboard from a fishboat make a delicious smorgasbord for seagulls.

Clams, crabs, herring roe — anything that is easily available near the beach makes a tasty snack. But we should be thankful they clean up the beaches for us. Imagine the smell if they didn’t eat the dead or dying animal matter.

I was shocked to learn that they will even eat a starfish that is much too big for their stomach. I’ve borrowed this photo from Wikipedia.

On the beach where I saw the brant from the last post, this seagull was eyeing up his meal.

Apparently it was worth dipping into the water for.

Out came something long and gooey, possibly from a broken clam shell.

Now, doesn’t that look tasty?

There’s a good chance that our seagull is responsible for this crab’s lost claw and a few legs – postmortem, most likely. Too bad for the crab, but good of the seagull to clean up the beach. I’m sure he or his friends will  come back to the crab to finish off the snack later on.

After all, who can resist crab on a bed of kelp?