Everyone has their moment, it seems. That one instance, or experience that they saw a bird, and it just ‘clicked.’ For me, it was a cedar waxwing. I know, I sound like I’m describing my first love, but in a sense, I am. About 10 years ago, while living Rochester Hills, Michigan, I looked out our front window to see our Pin Cherry tree filled with birds. Amazing birds. The likes, colors and behaviors of which I’d never seen. They were feasting on the small red berries produced after the beautiful white blossoms fade away in the spring. Some were plucking them off branches and eating, others passing them to their young. I was fascinated. There must have been 60-70 birds in the tree.
I consulted our Reader’s Digest guide to North American Wildlife, and when I finally found the page with the bird, I was awestruck. The picture had the exact same bird, down to the color and markings, sitting in a Pin Cherry tree, passing a berry to a younger bird. I couldn’t believe it – the match was perfect and exact. It seemed magical to me; like there was this esoteric world, hanging in the balance, going on all around us, existing between heaven and earth, and yet, most humans are completely indifferent to or unaware of it. The beauty of the bird, the realization that another secret world existed, almost like Narnia – I was hooked.
Just last week, my husband Doug and I went for a quick hike at the East Loveland Nature Preserve. I met my first love again – five cedar waxwings, this time way up high, and socializing. Difficult shot to take from the distance between us. A bit later in the hike, near the Little Miami River; an encore appearance. Not a great shot, again, but enough to show his bright and beautiful colors. Thanks for the memories.
Just before school started, my son Mark and I went birding at the East Loveland Nature Preserve in Loveland, Ohio. Not too much activity on that very hot day, but Mark described a beautiful bird he saw soaring down the river path in great detail. I just knew it was a king fisher. He confirmed the bird when I showed it to him in the field guide.
I was envious. I had never seen one before. Until yesterday. This male Belted Kingfisher sat high atop a sycamore tree and tweeted his raspy twitter for quite some time.
My husband remarked that the photo looks like it belongs in a Dr. Seuss book because of the ploppy sycamore balls and the kingfisher’s long beak and tufted head.
The female Kingfisher is different with a beautiful rust belly band about three inches beneath the blue. Quite different from most male/female distinctions in that the male is usually more decorated and colorful. Guess he’s not the King after all!
The Mallard duck can be found around the world, but didn’t get to all locations of the globe naturally, rather; they were introduced.
Mallards choose their mates during the winter and have a long courting season, breeding in the spring. Monogamous, Mallards go through a lengthy pre-mating session of elaborate displays for each other in the water, where copulation eventually takes place.
I use the term ‘monogamous’ loosly here, as some male ducks don’t think it applies to them. A paired male will often pursue another female and mate with her in what as known as “forced extra-pair copulations.” In some instances several males may chase a female to mate with her. You’ve probably witnessed this deviant behavior, which often involves the female running away. The whole thing sounds illegal to me, but then again, I’m not a duck.
Bird feeder pictures aren’t my favorite, but these definitely merit posting. Have you noticed Finch feeding frenzies at your feeder recently? The American Goldfinch has a year-round range in most of North America with the exception of the Southeast and Southwest states where some are likely to spend the winter. When temperatures take a turn south, the Goldfinch detects it and basic instinct kicks in. To ‘beef up’ for winter, they eat more in anticipation of the cold weather to come. This means more eating, and in some cases, fierce competition for the seed you may put out for them. Check out this feeding progression of events that goes from peaceful to full-frontal attack mode.
For a close up view of each image; double-click on the image, then double-click again after it opens.
I’ve mentioned the importance of clean feeders in a previous post, and this holds especially true for finch feeders. Goldfinch are susceptible to conjunctivitis – pink eye in humans. It is highly contageous among birds, and is typically the result of a respiratory disease (humans cannot get the bird strand from birds.) Yes, birds can get sick too, just like us. That’s why cleaning your feeders is so important. One infected bird can spread bacteria far and wide. I clean my feeders every other time I refill them, but some experts say it’s OK to go two weeks between cleaning. I just don’t take the chance.