Saturday, April 25, 2009

Birds of a Feather

Some folks call all birds sparrows and all flowers petunias, but that’s ok.  It becomes pretty difficult to distinguish between the finches and the sparrows when the little finch females look almost like sparrows with stripes.  It’s easy to call scissortails by the name of flycatchers, but it’s a big group of birds.  And then there are Mockingbirds, robins from the thrush family, wrens, cedar waxwings, and any number of colorful little buntings.  But the most difficult birds for some of us are the blackbirds.  The red-winged black birds have a distinctive call and personalities.  They are bold and quick about their decisions to come visit a likely feeder.


The most irritating birds are the grackles, however.  They run off the birds that sing and befoul the air with their screeching.  And it is not always easy to distinguish between a simple black bird and the lesser grackle unless one notices that the grackle has an upright feather configuration about his tail.  Black birds have a flat tail.  The cowbirds have that brown neck and head and the totally tacky habit of invading other birds’ nests to leave their eggs to be hatched by an unsuspecting pair of song birds.  The first hatched will, of course, be the bigger cowbird which will kill its step-siblings or ruin the eggs.


My parents have a wren nest in one of their gourds that they hung for the birds.  The pair were a bit fussy about our presence under the carport the other day, but we still got to watch them feed the babies.  Old gourds make great nests for wrens.  But so do door decorations—wreaths and other types of foliage, fake or otherwise.  Our daughter had to go in and out of their garage door for a while when a bird put its nest on their front door decoration.  Now she has a nest of mockingbirds out front in one of the trees that finally got big enough to support a bird nest and purple finches in a fern plant.  Growing things always brings rewards as well as surprises.


If I could attract plants the way we seem to attract birds, we would be considerably richer.  As it is, the only plants we seem to attract are nut grass and crab grass.  Then there are the billions and billions of elm tree seedlings….sigh.  Shade comes at a price.  But shade and song birds are worth whatever it takes to produce the singing, the shade, and the memories.  All three of our children insist that the elm tree is THEIR tree because they spent so many years playing in the dirt or swinging from its limbs.  Yeppers.  It is worth whatever it costs because now we have other little feathered friends and grandkids to raise under that tree.


Carla said...

Reading your blog reminded me that I usually have a pair of robins nesting outside my front door. I just checked -- the nest looks new, so maybe I DID knock down last year's. But there was no robin in it. I'll watch.

You might enjoy following Indy's peregrine falcons. Four chicks have hatched.

They'll have a contest to name them in a few weeks. I need to start thinking now.

Carla said...

Wonder how the judges would respond to names like "Dove" or "Finch" or "Robin" for the falcons?