These are tough days, and it’s not good to spend too much time in your own head. It’s loud and cranky in there, and your internal political oratory is only slicing minutes off your life, to no obvious benefit. The best way to get out of your own head is to spend time in someone else’s. It’s springtime, and it’s time to get your Gladys Kravitz on.
Your kids all know who Gladys Kravitz is. There’s plenty of Legacy Television to watch instead of playing outside; but for you old folks out there who can’t quite come up with names anymore, Gladys Kravitz is the nosy neighbor who was always spying on the Stephens family in Bewitched. She probably had a good idea about Darrin’s sexual orientation before it came out in the general press.
But don’t waste your Gladys on the neighbors. Snoop on the birds instead. They’re randy as the dickens right now. The males are spiffed to the nines and singing their hearts out. They’re hoping the same lines that worked last year will work this year too, and they probably will. The females are completely on board, but they’re playing it coy, hoping to get a few dinners out of the deal. You can see all of this easily enough if you just look. Love is in the air, and new birds are in the pipeline.
Our chickadees, Marge and Studley Windowson, are back this spring looking into the rental box outside my window. I just saw a pair of ruby-crowned kinglets nearby and got all excited that they’d be interested, even though it turns out they don’t use boxes, but they didn’t stand a chance anyway. Studley ran their asses right off, or maybe it was Marge. There’s nothing our chickadees like better than picking on something smaller than them, like bushtits or kinglets. It makes them all puffy in the chest. They leave hummingbirds alone because they’re too mean and pointy to take on.
We need new birds. There aren’t near as many as there ought to be, since we persist in poisoning our gardens and ripping out stuff they like to eat and sending out death squads of darling killer cats and putting in windows that look like sky. In spite of all this there are birds. And right about now, they’re all working real hard to make even more birds, and they’ll let you watch.
They won’t necessarily show you their nests. That’s a secret. You’ll have to get lucky, by following a bird with nesting materials. Crows are easy. They’re flat-out carrying lumber. But I’m still hoping to score a bushtit nest this year. Bushtits are very plural. If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen twenty. They make a brief show of pairing off this time of year and starting in on their nests, but invariably they say what the hell and invite the whole crew in once they’re done knitting it. It’s a sock. A big stretchy bouncy sock with bedrooms all full of fuzzy little tits. That’ll get you out of your head, or you ain’t right.
Don’t worry about how you look. Yes, you’re staring into the sky, and your mouth has gone slack, and there might be a little drool, and you look like one of those people waiting for the Rapture. But you’re nothing like them. They suffer from more certainty, and less reward.
[…and then there’s THIS. I’m going out on a limb with my little friend here and calling her an American goldfinch, and I don’t know what the heck she’s doing, but she totally let me watch. Ah, spring.]
Birds are SO much more interesting to watch than people. Many times, I've been driving and see some interesting bird activity or an especially striking bird, and my jaw goes slack, and I say "Ooooooo…." as if I had never seen a bird before. It's a wonder that I've never been rear-ended. We have bird feeders and houses and a pond for the birds, and can watch all seasons from the windows. I especially like when the "gang of seven" visit — a bunch of crows who seem to travel together. When one sees food, he caws to the others and they show up. Now THAT'S cooperation! As if real life weren't replete with birds, I also have an eagle nest cam on my computer all day, and periodically check in on them. I wonder why birds have grabbed such a hold on me, and also how other people can not be amazed by them.
I keep thinking if you can get everyone to take the time to really look, they'll be hooked too. But that joy just slides off some people, I guess.
What's she doing? First I thought she had the hiccoughs, and then I thought she was doing indecent things against that twig.
Basically, I think that's what's going on. Some kind of Bird Naughty. But maybe one of my vastly more informed bird buddies will enlighten us.
Lovely. I just got back from a bird walk with the local bird club. So wonderful to be out among nice people and naughty birds. Back at the house, we are awaiting eager nieces and nephews who want to see our baby chicks Clover and Poppy, Buttercup and Daffodil, Doodle, Buckie, and Barbara, just 6 days old. Peeps!!
Doodle, Buckie, and Barbara!
I had a hard time reading this because I kept reading "bushtits" as v"bullshits"!!
Yeah. You're not the only one with that particular problem. I also have a problem reading field guides that refer to a bird's "white underpants" when it's really "underparts." Works the same, though.
"crows carrying lumber" made me laugh!
That is one humongous nest. And I think your little friend in the video is having convulsions.
I always thought bluejays were poorly mannered birds that ran everyone else away from food, but I've been watching our little feeder, and the darn things just stand back and let the chickadees shove their way to the table! Even the most common of birds are fun to watch.
I have always liked jays and other corvids, but I'm still not over that scrub jay that hauled off my baby nuthatch last year.
Oh, yeah … well, not ALWAYS fun to watch 🙁
That nest is incredible! Have never seen such a thing. Thanks for the burst of spring joy. I think our spring/mud season will be in full swing this coming week, given we just had 3 inches of snow (melted) yesterday and expect 60s/70 in a day or two. Kim in PA
Do you have bushtits? They're worth looking for. When you're under a tree with bushtits in it, they're all going off at once. I don't think they really listen to each other all that much, to be truthful.
Ah, yes! A favorite pastime here as well. Can't see many nests but LOTS of activity & beautiful sounds. Wish I knew more who's making which ones. Had to look up ruby crowned kinglet. No wonder I haven't seen any with that little dot of red but will be searching.
Maybe mrs. Goldfinch is trying to shift those eggs around before laying them? Ha!
Mr. Kinglet is plumb adorable even without the crown. White eye-ring and tiny and round and all flippy all the time–I can now recognize him by the way he Acks. (Real birders do that. Every once in a blue moon, I do too.)
Coming into our ridiculously short and mild "winter" there's not a lot of action.But I can tell you that the Sunbirds' nest on our front awning is still hangin' there, even after the tail end of Cyclone Debbie whipped us up a bit and dumped 200mm of rain.Those birds should teach construction engineering!
Were I you–and I are not–I wouldn't complain about the birds I get to see. I WOULD complain about the weather. But yeah, sturdy suckers those pendulous nests are. They use spider silk! And possibly a little Spandex.
LOVE that nest. And your hiccuping friend. I can't tell you how much time I spend each and every day watching the birds. Feathered enchantment.
Innit good for you? Innit?
My favorite day of the year, when I worked at Lincoln Park Zoo, was when we soaped the windows. BIG windows-20 foot tall enclosure glass windows- so that the actively migrating Spring birds wouldn't mistakenly plow into them on their way in to nest amongst the lowland gorillas and the takins. A sure indication that the season was changing.
And, with luck, that occurred two days before you would have gotten the splatted bird indication!
I do not know the names of most feathered friends so I just point and shout BIRD! I can recognize bluebirds, Blue jays, robins and hummingbird, tho not the variety of hummingbirds. It is fun to be now hearing them all singing outside now! Spring!
Dollars to donuts they're Anna's hummingbirds. For you. You're welcome. If someone comes by and says Rufous, though, believe them.
She's doing her pelvic floor exercises like all women should at least once a day.
I would totally buy that if I didn't already know she doesn't care how much leaks out.
The study of avian mating rituals is known as pornithology.
AR AR AR AR AR AR AR AR AR AR AR!
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