Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘birds

Breakfast Buddy

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It was only a short time ago that Cyndie was visited for a day by a wild roughed grouse while gardening. A couple of days ago, we had a wonderful sighting of a brightly colored oriole in a pine tree outside our window, which is a rare event in the more than seven years we have been here.

Now, we have an iridescent blue-black starling with a very yellow beak who, for the past two days, is showing up to have breakfast with our chickens.

Arriving this morning in a branch overhead, and then making its way down to partake of the grain in the pan on the ground, the chickens only mildly appeared to question the return of this unlikely visitor.

Maybe birds are picking up on these unprecedented extraordinary times of the pandemic and seeking to make an extra connection with others around them.

Wouldn’t surprise me a bit, except for the fact the birds probably aren’t aware the novel coronavirus COVID-19 is infecting humans around the world.

Maybe it has more to do with people slowing down enough to take notice. Who knows? It could be a little bit of both.

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Written by johnwhays

May 24, 2020 at 9:34 am

Still Functioning

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It’s one of those days when the dog woke me too early and I feel like everything I’m observing is a movie in which I am not one of the characters. I guess that describes the majority of my dreams, so that is understandable. I slogged through the morning routine of walking Delilah and opening up the chicken coop, got all the animals fed, and here I sit.

Somehow, most things continue to function, including me, despite the inevitable march of time and natural inclination toward decay. The constant shifting of the earth is toying mercilessly with our fences, creating a laughingstock of my sense of order. The ramshackle construction of my chicken coop has resulted in two of the three main latches becoming mis-aligned to the point I wasn’t able to fully secure the side egg-collecting hatch last night.

Luckily, no predators noticed.

I’m told Cyndie made it back to Minnesota last night, but she arrived so late to her parents’ Edina home where her car was parked that she ended up spending the night there.

I wondered if Delilah got up early because she had understood me when I told her momma would be home when she woke up. I’d already put her to bed when the change of plans occurred.

One thing I didn’t miss while sleepily stumbling through walking Delilah this morning was the rich orchestral soundtrack of bird sounds filling the air. In addition to the chickens, pheasants, wild turkeys, and low flying geese, there were staccato drummings of woodpeckers and more varieties of songbirds than I could count. An unparalleled chorus.

Too bad I’m not as quick recording sound for you as I am at taking pictures. Of course, this morning, I didn’t even do that.

I’m still functioning, but just barely.

A warm sunny day would do wonders for my outlook, but that’s not what we have in store for today’s weather. More clouds and rain are on the way.

Sounds like maybe I could justify a nap. One where I can dream a movie of sunshine and straight fences, and latches that align while all the birds sing.

Speaking of finding myself in a movie, did I mention yet that I’ve been called for jury duty in my county in Wisconsin? The term here is 30 days, but I believe I’m released after serving one trial. I’ve been ordered to appear for a trial scheduled this Thursday and Friday, but need to call on Wednesday evening to find out if they settle out of court.

Along those same lines of barely functioning, I’m hoping for restful sleep Wednesday night, because I really don’t want to be one of those jurors who get chastised for falling asleep on the job.

Didn’t I see that in a movie somewhere?

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Written by johnwhays

April 7, 2019 at 8:32 am

Bird Pests

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June seems to be the time of year when the birds really make pests of themselves down at the barn. They are becoming pests because they are making nests. There is a starling that has taken a real liking to one of the downspouts from the gutter, plugging a short horizontal section between two elbows.

DSCN4801eI tried to flush it out last night while trying to take apart the sections so I could remove the nest. I didn’t really want to be up on the ladder when the section popped open with a protective momma bird suddenly exposed. The fact that it wouldn’t try to get away from all the banging and shaking I was doing made me think all the more there might be eggs present.

I finally bit the bullet and yanked it apart. The bird still didn’t fly away. From the looks of things, it was caught on something between the bottom cutout in the horizontal gutter and the first elbow. The poor thing couldn’t free itself even if it wanted to.

I suddenly felt guilty for all that banging I had done to scare it away.

In hopes of avoiding any aggression from the exposed side, I climbed into the paddock and from that position, removed the last screw keeping the elbow connected to the gutter. The starling was gone in a split second, flying off in a direction I couldn’t see.

A custom gutter-downspout-shaped nest

A custom gutter-downspout-shaped nest

Poor Delilah was beside herself with urgent desire for a chance to “assist” me with extricating the bird. I had her leashed to a fence post nearby while I worked. I feel like she gives me such a look of disappointment when I just let creatures go free like I did with this bird.

I can perceive her saying, “What are you doing! You let it get away!” with extreme incredulity.

She seemed to know it was trapped and so fervently wanted to just run up the ladder and offer it a helping paw. More likely, a not so helpful jaw, in all honesty.

Now it’s time to up my level of intensity in the project of bird-proofing the downspout. The plastic netting I tried last year turned out to be woefully inadequate. Next up, a plastic wedge-shaped screen that boasts “Revolutionary Patented Design Eliminates Downspout Clogs!

Cyndie picked it up for me from a home improvement store on her way home from an event because I had texted her about the previously-unplanned-but-now-urgent need.

Meanwhile, something that looks like a pigeon keeps making a nest over the large sliding doors. That one’s a lot easier to dispatch. Seems like every time we open the doors, a couple of eggs drop to the ground.

I figure the birds think we are the ones that become pests at this time of year.

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Written by johnwhays

June 1, 2016 at 6:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

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Cardinal Drama

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IMG_1406e2Long time readers might remember the story of the resident cardinal that repeatedly does battle with his reflection in the windows of our house, in attempt to drive the apparent challenger away. I had read that the behavior, which I discovered is not uncommon, usually occurs for about a month in springtime. Our guy was still busy at it in October. …And November. …And December.

Lately, we have had very few of the gentle kerfluffles on our windows. The males seem to all be getting along with each other just fine during the month of February. We counted 6 of them out there together yesterday.

Then the peace and quiet was disrupted by an impact that gave the distinct impression of a bird colliding at full flight speed. Out of the corner of my eye, I detected a blur of red deflecting down and to the right. Based on the sound of the initial impact, I was hesitant about wanting look, but there is something about it. You just have to look.

My suspicion that it was a cardinal was confirmed, and it did not look good. I was definitely influenced by the sound the impact had made. I was expecting the worst.

He had landed in an evergreen shrub below the window. His tail feathers were sticking out like he was still in flight, and one wing was visible, feathers spread unnaturally, for a perched bird. I could see the trunk moving rhythmically, as if breathing. I expected motion to stop any second. I watched for what seemed like a long time. It was probably a few minutes.

Suddenly, surprisingly, he flopped to the ground, under the tree. He was on his feet, and he looked perfectly normal, except for the fact that he wasn’t moving. At all.

It was about this time that I realized there were no other birds around anymore. There had been dozens before this occurred. Now, not a one. That cardinal seemed totally immobilized. The thought that came to my mind was, he was a very high risk of becoming some other creature’s prey. I wondered if the other birds were aware of the same thing, and were choosing to keep a lot of distance between themselves and him.

He stood there, motionless, for a very long time. I wandered off to do something, but kept stopping back to check. Still there. Eventually, I noticed birds were starting to make a return appearance. Slowly, but surely, they made their way toward the feeder, and their previous level of activity.

The cardinal stayed motionless. Then I caught him making a slight glance to the side, toward some of the little juncos or chickadees that were ground feeding. But that was it. Back to motionless.

I bet it was over 5 minutes that I had been walking in there to see if there was any progress. Finally, I walked up just as a flash of red from another cardinal swooped down under that bush and …nothing. He was gone. Nothing under that tree except a scattering of feathers.

I don’t know what that behavior was, but it worked, and that concussed bird was off cavorting with the rest of the flock.

A happy ending! I was impressed. From the sound of that initial impact, and the sight of him sprawled out on that branch, I figured he was a goner.

Written by johnwhays

February 24, 2013 at 8:00 am

Posted in Chronicle

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