13 July 2009

Bird Watching

With all these Fridays off you'd think I'd be doing something productive...but I watch the birds. I sit at my computer chair and put my feet up on the window sill and stare at the birds outside.

I've noticed the pair of blue jays have come back for another year. They arrive in the late Spring and make a nest somewhere nearby. The most I've ever seen is three at a time, but this year there is only the pair. They remind me a bit of a vacationing couple as I only see them in the warmer months.

And there are these little brown birds everywhere. Their eggs hatched in early Spring and their little babies tend to fly directly in front of my car while I'm driving. I haven't seen much of them lately, maybe they only live in
our trees while their young are, um, young :) I don't know what kind they are (wrens, maybe?) but they certainly do have a lot of babies. Once the babies get to be adult-sized I see less and less of them. Might have something to do with them flying/walking in front of moving cars.

The birds that are around a lot are magpies. They are the bullies of the neighborhood. I've seen them taunt a squirrel on the ground and force the squirrel up into a tree, where the magpie was joined by a friend. They left the squirrel alone only after a dog walker threw rocks at the magpies. They also stalked a jackrabbit in my back yard, making the rabbit run away from my sweet pea seedlings. When a magpie gets run over or hurt they all stand in a circle and mourn as loud as possible. Or maybe they are swearing at the driver that hurt their friend, I don't speak 'bird'.

I have many pine trees in the area, mostly at full height (it's an old neighborhood) and the magpies used to like to sit on the tippy-top pine needle and watch the sun set. I can see them through my kitchen window as they take turns gazing into the evening sky. "Take turns" might be generous. One would be perched on the pine needle, another would knock it off and take his spot.

The one bird that quiets the magpies is the crow.
Apparently they are in the same bird family. If the magpies are bullies, the crows are their big brothers that don't feel the need to assert themselves with violence. Instead they command the area on reputation alone. Last summer the crows kept me company while I was tending my garden. There were usually three of them and they would let me get pretty close. This year they just come around occasionally and remind the magpies that they own the area. The magpies usually find something else to do while the crows are around. The magpies will even leave a puddle if a crow swoops down to take a bath.

Crows are said to help souls pass to the Other Side. One of the strangest sights I'd ever seen was walking by a Retirement Lodge in the summer and seeing about 20 crows sitting on the roof. No cawing or yakking, no moving or pecking. Just sitting. An older woman came up next to me and asked what I was staring at. I pointed o
ut the crows and the symbolism and wondered aloud if there was a gas leak or bad food or something. Thankfully, the woman smiled and found me amusing. I can be pretty offensive sometimes.

New to my are
a are pigeons. They usually live in the rafters of buildings, but maybe the excessively dry Spring has brought them out. There must be some kind of smorgasbord of bugs that came out this year because the pigeons came by and treated my block like a buffet. They started at the end of my block and munched their way along the grass boulevard and road. There were two pairs of them and every time the magpies came close and squawked at them to leave they would just look up, acknowledge the magpie, and then eat some more. The magpies gave up - sort of - they kept out of the way but made sure the pigeons stayed within some imaginary boundary. Now that we've had some rain the pigeons have kept to their usual area instead of here.

So this year I bought a bird feeder in hopes of attracting some new birds. I wanted to find one that the squirrels wouldn't dominate, but those were a tad expensive. Instead S and I went with this UFO model that's easy to fill. I haven't seen any birds feeding off it yet but I'll be watching...


The Hyperlexian Aspie said...

lol@ gas leak/bad food! blue jays, magpies, crow and ravens are all cousins... and all smart. i love 'em!


Chantelle said...

I didn't know that you had blue jays there! We used to have crows here but the West Nile virus pretty well killed them off... now you get them :)