Friday, July 06, 2007

The Birds of Summer



I’ve mentioned our back yard bird sanctuary a few times here. Now it’s become a multigenerational gathering spot. At least three pairs of Cardinals raised their broods nearby and they’re bringing their young ones to eat at our stump buffet. You can tell the young from their lack of red feathers and their behavior. They flutter their wings and give a little plaintive cry until one of the parents stuffs a seed in their mouths.

We also have baby Blue Jays, and cutest of all, baby woodpeckers. A pair of Red-bellied woodpeckers have been frequent visitors over the past several months. I think they should be called “blushed bellies” myself because the red on their stomachs is not prominent at all. They also have red or rosy-feathered heads. The male has red all the way over the head to the beak while the female just has red about halfway across her head. The young ones have no red yet but will cling to the side of a tree or a stump while the mom or dad lands above them, gets a seed, then turns around and puts it into their offspring’s mouth.

One thing I’ve noticed is that the “babies” certainly aren’t little anymore. They’re all flying, of course, but most are as physically big or bigger than their parents. I guess this is a combination of being fed with little effort on their part, and of their parents losing weight from the hard labor of raising their families.

Oh, and this morning for the first time I saw a Box Turtle crossing our yard. You’re probably saying, “be still my heart,” or “how did you stand the excitement?” but I thought it was pretty cool. I used to love what we called “terrapins” as a kid but you don’t see them too often anymore. From reading about the Gulf Coast Box Turtle's habits I probably wouldn't have seen it if our back yard had not been flooded. It apparently loves to wade through shallow pools of water in search of insect larva. I hope it eats some of our mosquitoes.

13 comments:

cs harris said...

I'm jealous. I have a lot of birds here in my garden but nothing like up at the lake fluttering through the trees. I did not know that the parents still feed their young when they're out of the nest. So maybe we humans aren't so different afterall!

Shauna Roberts said...

The fatness of baby birds reflects a harsh reality of life: After their parents stop taking care of them, their weight drops off quickly until they learn to take care of themselves. Evolution favors the fattest chicks because they can survive longer without food.

I envy your backyard wildlife. I prefer urban life, but it limits me to watching lizards, squirrels, the birds attracted to our fig tree and flowering plants, and an occasional snake.

Jack said...

That's very nice Charles. It's refreshing to hear about the wildlife.

Donnetta Lee said...

I've been watching the tarpon, talapia (sp?), and snook jumping in the canal. We've got some pretty white cranes meandering around and the burrowing owls who live in the decorative rock next door have been out. Then there are the ominous looking blackbirds who like to sit atop the mast of the boat. And you know what they like to deposit up there!
Donnetta

Steve Malley said...

All we have at the moment are ducks, geese and swans who've flown north for the winter.

That's right, north.

For the winter. In July.

Upside down place, this...

the walking man said...

The type of animals and wild life that has migrated into Detroit is much different than what you describe Charles. I think the oddest thing we see now that we never saw as children are possum.

Bernita said...

Yes, the sight of a baby bird bigger than its parents squeaking "feed me" is sweet.

Danny Tagalog said...

I'm jealous of course too. I don't prefer urban life anymore - when chance arrives I'm heading away out to the sticks...

Susan Miller said...

Yep, I saw the cutest turtle this morning on my walk. Sounds like a wonderful place you have there, Charles.

It's good to have you back and know that your mother is well. (sorry I'm late on that last comment)

Michelle's Spell said...

Hey Charles,

It sounds super-peaceful where you're at. I know so many people that love nature and believe in its healing qualities. I admit to a fondness for urban gardens -- that's sort of close, right? :)

Rachel said...

If I had a backyard, I'd like to see about it being a sanctuary. That's cool.

Charles Gramlich said...

Yesterday, Sunday, I spent probably four or five hours watching the birds. It's really relaxing.

Thanks everyone for posting.

Lana said...

Let's hear it for fat chicks! *LOL*