Sunday, August 05, 2007

Rainy Day, Dream Away

Looks like I am rained out from biking again -- it just started raining pretty steady, around 9am. Checked the radar, it should last 30-60 minutes. So I'll go for a walk when it's done. Meanwhile, might as well blog.

I wasn't going to bike far anyway, maybe 30 miles. We're back to low 90s and humid as hell. We were at a party last night, sitting on a deck at 10:30pm and sweat is rolling off me.

Actual title of this entry was going to be "The Birds and the Bees". Main point re the birds is, they fight all the time, as long as they are within 1 size class of the other bird. So robins, cardinals, and mockingbirds get territorial on each other, both within and without of their species, but ignore sparrows. Blackbirds will gang up and try to drive a crow away. And when there's a hawk around, both crows and blackbirds will put 1-3 sentries keeping tabs on the hawk. They will also mess with it when it's in flight.

I enjoy watching my bird bath and 3 bird feeders. Here's some anecdotes / natural science.

  • Of the birds that use the main bird feeder, the pecking order is: blackbirds, bluejays, cardinals. Doves eat but don't seem to get involved. We also have a lovely pair of chickadees that the other birds seem to ignore. They fly almost like hummingbirds.
  • I had thought robins didn't use the feeder (worm eaters), but there was one eating there yesterday.
  • The main feeder and bath are between an aristocrat pear and a crabapple tree near the house. I cut most of a branch on the crabapple that the squirrels (3) were using for fast access to the main bird feeder. Our hummingbird feeder (none this year or last) hangs from it and the vibration of the squirrels' passing sloshes the liquid out of the hummingbird feeder. After I cut it, I noticed a chipmunk (chipmunks climb trees!) going up the pear over to the crabapple, all around the crabapple, back to the pear -- I had destroyed his access to the bird feeder. So then he climbs the pole the feeder's on -- the squirrels do this and then just swarm over the lip of 6 x 12 inch base of the feeder -- and leaps backwards along the long dimension of the base; attempts to grab the edge; fails and falls to the ground (5 feet). Then back up the pole again, another leap in the direction 180 degrees from the first, with the same result. Then back up the pole, reach the edge in the shorter direction directly, without leaping, and easily pulls itself over. So why did it try twice leaping 6 inches before reaching 3? Almost like its route searching algorithm was random, which I wouldn't think was the case ...
  • The birds don't mess with the the squirrels on the feeder. I thought maybe rodents got a pass, but a bluejay got territorial with the chipmunk when it was in the tree, so it's probably the size thing.
  • Cardinals seem to be fairly timid, but I did see a female cardinal dominating a bluejay briefly. I also saw a male cardinal fly up and side with a female when a bluejay was dominating the female.
  • The bluejays and chickadees fly to the feeder, get a piece of food, and fly back to a branch to eat it. The doves, blackbirds, cardinals, and robins eat at the feeder.
  • The goldfinches currently have the thistle seed feeder to themselves. I guess that shows the advantage of have an unusual food be part of the definition of your ecological niche.
BTW, I am adding another blog link: that of an old friend/WRA of mine. She was affectionately known as "slaphead" when she worked for me ~15 years ago because she was such a smartass you wanted to slap her upside the head -- my kind of person.

No comments: