Here in Kentucky, our Eastern Meadowlarks have returned and are perching on fenceposts all over. These birds sound to me a lot like the ones I got used to back home in Arizona, but according to The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Easterns have 50 to 100 different variations of their song, where the Westerns only have around 10 to 12 variations!
The Eastern Meadowlark is scientifically named “Sturnella magna”, and they’re actually classed as a blackbird, not a lark at all. Whatever class they’re in, they are a delight to the eyes and ears. If you have pet birds, you may enjoy looking up the different songs and playing them for your house birds – mine get very excited to hear wild birds singing in the house early in the morning!
With that bright yellow breast and black necklace, Easterns are a very distinctive sight in the country here in…
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Remember when people said that parrots just mimic sounds, and have no actual comprehension? Once I’d had a parrot of my own, I KNEW this was SO untrue! And I knew that “bird-brain” was actually a compliment!
Then I saw the results that Dr. Irene Pepperberg was getting from her lab at the University of Arizona. She acquired her most famous Grey, “Alex” from a pet shop when she was finishing her doctorate at Harvard.
Alex was capable of identifying objects by their type, their texture and their color, and learned how to label objects that were new to him. And that put him in the same class as primates, who had previously been the “gold standard” of animal intelligence.
Birds have brains that are structured differently than mammals, and so scientists for a very long time believed that they were not smart, and that they acted from instinct alone…
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It’s so cool to see our Downy Woodpeckers! They’re not very big birds, smaller than a Robin for instance, but that dapper black and white plumage with the males’ red cap is SO striking.
I really enjoy seeing them come to our feeder through the winter, and recently our male resident has been joined by a lady Downy. I’m hoping to see babies later this year, and possibly get my own photos of these beauties.
So, on to facts and trivia…
Downies are the smallest woodpeckers in North America, and also the most likely to be seen at our feeders! In the 1950’s and 1960’s, Downy woodpeckers ate a LOT of elm bark beetles, possibly slowing the spread of Dutch elm disease that the insects were carrying.
Downies have the typical woodpecker style of tongue: Long, sticky, and…
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I’ve been watching Goldfinches for at least 20 years now, and they still entertain me with their persistence and antics, especially at the bird feeder at this time of the year.
When I moved “up-country” to Shumway, Arizona (in the White Mountains) was the first time I really noticed them. The year before, I’d put out a bird feeder and filled it with sunflower seed for the wild birds. Many of the local Scrub Jays took advantage, and being Jays, they planted an entire acre of sunflowers for me before I realized it.
The next spring and summer, I watched in amazement as my semi-weedy acre slowly transformed into a solid, head-high, forest of green plants and golden flowers. But that was just the beginning!
As the Sunflowers began to bloom, there were suddenly a flock of tiny, darting, chipping birds working their way through the flowers. I saw them…
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Last year we noticed that we had our “own” mockingbird, and he would perch in the treetop across from our front porch and sing his heart out. One of the sounds he would imitate is the call of Bobwhite quail (which we have seen here, but not recently) and I would get all excited and rush out to the treeline looking for quail. Well, no quail this time, but the MOckingbird is pretty special , too.
We feed our wild birds year-round, and our Mockingbird will take some seeds but I see him a lot more on the suet feeder through the winter. I imagine the fat helps him keep warm!
Mockingbirds like to have what’s called “edge” habitat, which basically means they like to have trees to perch in, shrubs for protection, and open areas to forage for insects and invertebrates. They do like fruit, and will drink tree…
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How I ended up with a plethora of winged friends on the balcony started with my curiosity. A curiosity which stems from them being one of my animal totems. Each type of bird has a special significance and they appear when advice is needed!
When I moved to this flat, I had been searching for a place where there was more greenery. I selected this flat because of its open balcony that would allow me to do some container gardening and perhaps have a bird feeder. Being situated nearby one of the large parks I was curious about what birds there were. I have a fondness for the winged fauna and so I was eager to see who might come by. So along with my gardening pots, I erected a bird feeder…
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