|Our Feathered Friends - July 25|
|Wednesday, July 25, 2012|
Some of you might wonder why in the world I put my mailing address at the bottom of my bird articles. Even in this fast-paced world of computers and 4G gadgets, there is still several people that choose not to partake in this scientific bliss. If there were not any alternative methods of communication, besides e-mail, I would lose out on close to 1/4 of my readers.
I received a very nice card from Mary Nixon, who resides in Hickman, Tennessee, who wanted to share with me some of the critters and our feathered friends that reside at her home. My favorite part of her message had to do with a snake that was heading toward the house, until a Mockingbird drew the line in communal friendship. The Mocker must have been very brave as it actually chased the snake away. Some birds have been known to attack snakes that seem to be climbing toward their nest by pecking it on the head repeatedly. Mary said that the snake was, "moving on," sounds like an old Hank Snow song.
I was out in the back yard next to my Bluebird house when I noticed that the Bluebirds were raising their 4th brood. It seems that the strange early spring must have really messed with the Bluebird's hormones, and jump-started them into nesting over and over. This pair has already fledged twelve babies from this one house. It is in a better location than last year’s nest as it is out of sight of my house and the only times that they were disturbed was when I sat out back watching the Tree Swallows.
How many of you ladies enjoy a spa day, where you kick back with a massage and foot rub? Would you believe that some birds do something similar, except the foot rub part? Of course they love to bathe in water, but they like to put the perfume on too. It’s called "Anting" and most of our songbirds partake of this quite often. Some species of ants produce and use formic acid as a deterrent to some of their enemies. Being birds, somewhere down the line they discovered that this was beneficial to removing mites that flourished in their feathers.
You can go to YouTube and put anting into the box and it will provide you with several examples of birds doing this. Some of them seem to be totally out of it, like a kitten playing with a catnip toy. Bluejays are one of the best at anting. They will grab an ant by the thorax and when the ant starts spraying formic acid, he will draw the ant through his primary feathers. Some of them have gotten so smart that they will land on a large ant hill and stir the nest up, then just sit op top while the inhabitants fight the bird by spraying the acid bath as the bird spreads their feathers. This must be some bird special known as Chanel number 5 bird style.
I am still getting messages about the Ruby-throated Humming bird being a no-show, except at Kris Ruffin's place. Work has been slow so she is enjoying more time sitting outside, coffee cup in hand, and watching her feathered friends. Kris is making plans to add another martin house next spring as her other two are full of birds. You can always send me some of your overflow.
I received an e-mail from Ed Lanius in regard to locating a (Lanius ludovicianus), a Loggerhead Shrike. Another common name for the Shrike is the "butcher bird" because of his habit of catching small rodents or birds and hanging their bodies on a thorn tree or even barbed wire for later consumption. I wonder maybe a long time ago if some of his family actually discovered the Shrike and if it was named after some of Ed's decendants. Never know! Notice in the picture, the down-curved beak actually looks like some type of a Hawk which is made for tearing meat.
The head and back are gray, while its under-parts are white, and its tail and wings are black, with white patches on the wing and white on the outer tail feathers. They wear a black face mask which extends over the bill which reminds me of the Lone Ranger.
After reading an e-mail from BC Yahola, It seems that I need to come out her way to do some birding with the long list of different species that haunts her abode.