How I Spent My Summer Vacation

LizzieLou | wildlife | Saturday, November 12th, 2011

This past spring and summer I became an old lady a backyard bird watcher. It started before last year with my budding interest in the crows – tossing snacks out the front door for them so they would come and entertain Weezie Meep. The neighborhood crows like peanuts, but not peanut M&Ms. They like neither gluten free bread nor gluten free peanut butter puffs. (But the squirrel did and he carefully hid them all under the moss and dandelions.)

So this year as I sat in the back yard, I took more time to observe the birds, instead of observing Weezie observing the birds. (Although, I would like to share a little bit about her awesomeness right now because I was complaining about her earlier… Like many cats, she does a curious chattering at the birds when they capture her attention. Because I know she likes watching, when I see them out the window I try to alert her. One day I was calling her to come to the window, and calling, and calling, but she did not come. Until I tried something new. I looked out the window at the birds myself and said, “Cherrp. Cherrp, cherrp cherrp. Cherrp cherrp.” And she came running! Running and already chattering herself as she jumped up onto the window sill. Several days later when there were some birds out the window and Lolly was present to witness, I did it again, but without calling her first, just with the cherrp-ing. And she came running to look out the window with me again, and has continued this behavior since. Cool, huh?)

And now the crows… The first one I was able to distinguish due to a missing feather on its left wing I started calling Leslie. It was big and curious and started to recognize me too. The second one, companion to the first, I was able to identify due to one screwy foot. The toes point the wrong way. I started calling this one Frances. While I’m not totally sure, hence the neutral naming, I think Leslie is male and Fran is female. She is a little smaller and a little more cautious. Later they had a loud, shouting baby, who is now all grown up and I can’t tell it apart from other crows except that when one swoops right down without hesitating, I suspect that is Baby. I think sometimes Baby brings friends over and gets special props from them for being brave.

They would come around when I was outside reading (or when Lolly and I were outside grilling. Come to think of it I think these interactions all started with bits of hotdog. Or maybe because Lolly too is all dressed in black and likes me to shell her peanuts for her they thought I was already crow-friendly.) and I would bring my binoculars with me. I could look closely when they sat above me on the house and I could see which tree they were flying off to. I have no idea what the neighbors might have thought about me and what I was doing. Maybe they could tell I was looking at birds. Maybe they thought I was peeping into their kitchens.

Of course, I’ve watched the nature shows and read some books about how freaking smart these crows are. I LOVE them so. If they didn’t have parasites and sharp pointy bits, I would grab them and hug them and squeeze them and name them George. I have since read that I am not supposed to be feeding crows, but I have tossed nuts and salmon skin and chicken gizzards and old hamburger and biscuits and scrambled eggs and expired lunch meat onto the garage roof for them. I could see where my feeding noisy obnoxious crows could annoy a neighbor or two. I tried to be sneaky but only a moron would not know what I was doing. Thankfully, no one has complained yet.

Also of note to my birdwatching self were the house sparrows. I had to look these up to find out what they were. They are small and super cute, some have this orangey male-pattern baldness look to their heads, and say “Cheep cheep!” and hop around. They live in the horrible grass monster (see previous post) that I wanted to chop down. Now I can’t because little cute cheep cheep birdies live there.

I accidentally took a picture of them having bird sex one afternoon. I didn’t realize what they were doing until after I took the picture, but now I can add it to my collection of other backyard hi-jinks (i.e. fornicoons and fornisnails). Lastly, speaking of birds and bees, this is my favorite of my backyard photos this year and I just feel like posting it.

1 Comment

  1. Oh Bear….why don’t you come post (or even cross post) on LJ, so I can see when you’ve written something new on my LJ feed that doesn’t require a special trip all the way over here? Now look how behind I’ve fallen.

    Squirrels smarter than (or less picky than) birds: Check. And “curious chattering”? Surely you know why kitties do that? They are imagining the tasty bird in their jaws and instinctively snapping its neck, despite there being no bird there. Interesting note: our cats also do this with wild birds, but not with our pet bird (more’s the pity because I hate our pet bird).

    More comments to come!

    Comment by Eelaine — December 8, 2011 @ 2:15 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Powered by WordPress | Theme by Roy Tanck