Thursday, February 24, 2011

Five minutes of observation from an observant observationist*

*I totally stole that line from a favorite blog.

I backed up the driveway today, and opened the door to unload the groceries.
In front of me was a tableau of bird behavior that was fascinating...not just because it was happening, but because I could recognize the players.
We have Pink Spot, who is a male Northern Cardinal who I've watched for two years.  He has a small leucistic spot on his right wing that makes him distinctive.  We also have Orange, who is a newcomer here, and low and behold, he's orange.
Pink spot cardinal

"The ladies dig this freaky little spot I got.  Chicka chicka wow wow....."

I'm horny and no one likes me because I'm different

"I'm horny and no one likes me because I'm different."

So there was a bit of male fluffery going on.  In between these two very different males, there was a female.
A normal female cardinal who had a choice to make.  Or maybe she didn't.  The reddest fellow seemed to have the upper hand.  I will be very interested to see if Orange gets a mate this year.  He is NOT a typical, bright red, healthy-looking cardinal, and with many bird species, that matters if you are going to get any nookie.

Orange got close to her....
Orange and Lady

...but after a few swipes from Pink, Orange had to back off.
Orange and Lady facing away

And Orange was gradually scooted off the driveway.

...and up into the mulberry tree, where his very posture showed how much he really wanted that female:
Orange banished

Meanwhile, a lone turkey vulture zoomed down so low I could hear the creak if its wings:
TV watches

The Lord God Almighty Mockingbird even pushed Orange around and then sat on the cheery tree and glared at me:
Lord Mocker

Oh.  And then a stray dog showed up.
A cute little chi-chi mix, who was confident enough to eat the food I put out, but was too skittish to let me look at his collar.

Hooper was watching the whole affair and starting yodeling at the top of his lungs:
Hooper yodels

Eventually, the stray bolted into another yard, Hooper shut up, the turkey vulture moved onto another thermal, the chip-chip-chip of the cardinals faded.   All this was only five minutes of my day, but it was a good five minutes.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

It's time to play everyone's favorite game...."Where'd THAT Bone Come From??"

Two posts in a month?  Can you keep up?  Can ya?

I went on a trip recently to southern Kentucky, and I surprised myself by getting up before dawn and going on a bird hike.  Those of you who have birded with me can vouch for the incredulity of that statement.

Bird action was quietly promising....some circling red-tailed hawks, a phoebe, sparrows out the wazoo.

As a Junior Science Chimp, I felt that it was my duty to entertain with my scat-chimping and poking around in the weeds for fun and gross secrets.

Okay, fellow Learning Lemurs.  Let's play "Where'd THAT Bone Come From??"

jaw 1

back of teeth

A few shots of a removed tooth (Yes, I yanked one out of the socket)
tooth 1

tooth 2

So.  What do you think, my Chimps?

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Owls and Poetry

Oh, if you still come to my poor blog, thank you.  
I think there have been a shortage of really good or funny stories lately, and with it being February now, not much going on in the bird department.
The good thing about winter is the start of nesting season for Great Horned Owls.  I have been checking my local nest every day, but thus far, no eggs.  This got me thinking of a poem by Charles Baudelaire.  Les Hiboux.  

A somewhat haunting poem, yet straining to find light.
Here it is in French (which is the best way to read it of course) and below, with a selection of delicious owl photos, one of many English translations.  
Enjoy.  And go out and look for owls!

Les Hiboux
Charles Baudelaire

Sous les ifs noirs qui les abritent
Les hiboux se tiennent rangés
Ainsi que des dieux étrangers
Dardant leur oeil rouge. Ils méditent.
Sans remuer ils se tiendront
Jusqu'à l'heure mélancolique
Où, poussant le soleil oblique,
Les ténèbres s'établiront.
Leur attitude au sage enseigne
Qu'il faut en ce monde qu'il craigne
Le tumulte et le mouvement;
L'homme ivre d'une ombre qui passe
Porte toujours le châtiment
D'avoir voulu changer de place.

The Owls
by Charles Baudelaire

Under the overhanging yews, 
The dark owls sit in solemn state, 
Like stranger gods; by twos and twos 
Their red eyes gleam. They meditate. 

photo by Jim Anderson

Motionless thus they sit and dream 
Until that melancholy hour 
When, with the sun's last fading gleam, 
The nightly shades assume their power. 

photo by Doug Sanchez

From their still attitude the wise 
Will learn with terror to despise 
All tumult, movement, and unrest; 

For he who follows every shade, 
Carries the memory in his breast,
Of each unhappy journey made.

photo by Doug Sanchez