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Birds

 
pollinator
Posts: 179
Location: SE Indiana
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I like birds. Here at my house I love watching and listening to the chickadees, wrens, nut hatches and all the others that live around the gardens and in the woods. We are blessed with a nice assortment of hawks and owls. I love watching the red tails when they do their aerial dances. Sometimes one will pull in its wings and plunge hundreds of feet in an apparently controlled freefall at another one, sometimes they grab each other and tumble another couple hundred feet before braking apart and climbing back up to do it again. I have no idea why they do that but I know if I could do it I probably would.

I love the owls too, I love hearing them carrying on with their hoots and screeches, they're especially vocal in the winter. You don't hear them fly though, they are built for stealth. Did you know that a great horned owl can brush your ear with a wing tip on its way to plucking a rabbit you'd been watching off the ground and there is no sound at all. Turkey vultures and black cultures on the other hand make a heck of a racket with their wings but I guess there is no need for stealth in their line of work.

Over at the lake where I like to fish there are geese and ducks and herons and swans and some other water birds I can't identify. The geese and ducks are noisy too, not just their calls but also their wings. I like how the geese and ducks kind of ski in for a water landing and how they sort of run on water to get back into the air. The herons don't do that, they just wade in the shallows so can still just jump back into the air like other land birds. I've never seen a swan land or take off but they float and swim like geese so I guess they do it the same.

Some of my favorites to watch are the eagles and the ospreys. When the eagles fish they come down like a dive bomber and glide over the surface snatching up a fish without getting  anything wet but their feet. They aren't really very good at and in fact seem to only rarely do it. The are apparently limited only to a fish that is close enough to the surface that it's fins are sticking out.

Ospreys are whole different story. They hit the water like a missile, almost completely submerging. Lots more fish are in range of their abilities but still they are only successful maybe 1 in 5 times. They don't have oily feathers or flat feet like the geese. They have to power themselves back into the air with the sheer force of their now wet wings. Then they have to fly up into a tree and wait to dry off before trying again. It DAMN hard work! The eagles often just wait until an osprey has caught a fish and then swoop in to steal it. That rarely works either, as often as not the fish is just lost to them both. Eagles are beautiful and fun to watch but they're basically bullies and assholes.

I always root for the ospreys and one time I saw an altercation that ended with them both in the water. The osprey was obviously exhausted but at least it had the strength and skill to get back into the air and to a safe place to rest. The eagle on the other hand had to flap/swim back to shore, I'm not sure it even made it, serves it right though IMO.
 
gardener
Posts: 1918
Location: South of Capricorn
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The birds are a big part of my life too!
Just this morning as I went out to check the seedlings there was a falcon circling (not sure what kind, but most mornings I hear some screeching and all the pigeons here in the neighborhood quickly find somewhere else to be). During my workday I keep an eye on the hummingbirds, the wrens (that nest outside my window on my back porch, providing me with hours of entertainment, they are so curious and active. They also eat lots of bugs out of my garden, so they're always welcome). We have fruit trees so we have a good number of tanagers (mostly blue, but some orange and blue ones as well). Every once in a while we'll have a weaverbird or some parrotlets, who prefer the conifers but will show up when there's something good to eat. Then there are the ubiquitous noisy-mouthed cuckoos and flycatchers and thrushes.
I never knew much about birds before, and still don't really, but I do really enjoy their presence here in the city. I try to make my yard attractive to them, and I can tell from their, uh, deposits that they seem to like being here.
 
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its been a while since i have had an owl swoop over my head
i dont walk in the woods at night as much though....

i had my nephew out fishing in the canoe in september and saw two bald eagles grasp each other and do a spiral towards the lake like you were describing... i was told it was a mating ritual.. didnt look it up to confirm though...

on a canoe trip north of lake superior i was paddling through a gorge with sheer cliffs on either side
an osprey caught a nice sized fish and while flying away with it a bald eagle came along and they had a little tussle mid air and the bald eagle took off with the fish like you have described

up working by hand on the road to gain access to my property... there were 3 grey jays which would fly in at the same time each day and land on nearby trees and watch me for a bit and then take off
supposedly they fly around in multi generational groups and teach things to the young ones

i love the racket of song birds up there... i think part of the reason there are so many is that the bugs are horrific! lots of blackflies and mosquitoes

i see sandhill cranes up there fairly often as well and hear loons on a nearby lake at night

lots of egrets and multiple types of herons around here also

hummingbirds like our backyard here in the city mostly because of the rose of sharon and monarda... i would like to plant some monarda up north

kingfishers, ravens(or are they crows), turkey vultures, sandpipers.. the list goes on and i should study more because many i cant identify

it would be pretty cool to be able to fly
 
M. Phelps
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check out this footage i captured and my friend edited of birds (maybe mergansers) chasing small fish underwater

 
pollinator
Posts: 489
Location: Vancouver Island, BC, Canada
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Last winter I noticed "deposits" running down one of my pergola (actually a rain proof roof over the deck...took me WEEKS to spot the clever house sparrow that had thrown convention to the wind, abandoning huddling in groups in the leafless willow. I became concerned the cold aluminum upright it huddled on would steal it's body heat - spent hours trying to provide a "nicer" spot for it. First adding a small square of cardboard, then an scrap of double walled, clear acrylic, ordered multiple bird houses...all to no avail, it steadfastly rebuffed all my fancy offerings and simply moved to an unmodified post!

BUT come spring, I found I had several bird houses to place in the yard, then decided I needed more...went on the hunt for feeders, bought multiple styles; then the hunt for just the right seed...in the end this became a Covid project that morphed into a dozen seed feeders, another dozen hummingbird feeders, and a dozen various sized bird houses!

I was rewarded with dozens of species of songbirds, multiple filled nest boxes, that were used for multiple clutches! I discovered all my initil feeders either flawed or too small and finally found the KING of feeders; bought a half dozen of them, each filled with different seeds to accommodate the various species, and was rewarded with countless hours of bird watching from our deck - the perfect quarantine activity! In exchange, seems my feathered residents took bug control VERY seriously (likely to feed their neverending clutches of hungry offspring) and practically eradicated all nasty biting/stinging insects! Wasps, mosquitos, midges, hornets...all seemed to be 99% eliminated. Fair exchange, in my books, for the hundreds spent on feed (we won't discuss the funds spent on nestboxes and the multiple hundreds on feeders as they will be used for years to come).

Now we have been graced with a plethora of overwintering Anna's who keep at least four feeders in use at ALL times.

I cannot express the joy and gratitude I feel for my feathered friends, be they songbirds and raptors by day, or my conversations with Owls (Great Horned and Barred) by night - I have become quite accomplished mimicking them, even drawing them closer to 'find' the interloper...I do hope the neighbors don't realize I stay up all hours hooting at Owls!

PS: my favorite is the tiny, red Breasted Nuthatch, one of only two birds I have that are blue (most are LBB's: Little Brown Birds).
 
Mark Reed
pollinator
Posts: 179
Location: SE Indiana
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I also love the nuthatches but I think ours are the white breasted kind. We also have a smaller one, it's fun to watch them run up and down and around the tree trunks. In summer we have tons of wrens, they never ever stop singing and having babies. Wrens in the houses I put up, wrens in the tool box, wrens in an old boot, wrens in your jeans pocket if you leave them on the cloths line too long.

I have a special affinity for what I generically call hoot owls. When I was very small I would talk to them. Although I don't know what I was saying they apparently understood.  My plan was to reach up and snatch one from the air. It took a long time to talk one down but I always chickened out and fell to the ground with my hands over my head just as one came in range. Then, resolved to follow through with it next time, the process would start all...over...again but up close I never overcame the sight of those giant wings and claws. Probably a good thing, in hindsight.

I'm too cheap and poor to spend much on feeding the birds, they could eat fellow out of house and home. One time I bought some thistle seed, that crap ain't cheep and a giant flock of finches came and ate it all in one day. I do buy a big bag of sunflower seeds and just throw it out on the ground, even in the leaves so they have to look for it a little bit. That way too nobody can hog it all at the feeder. I also get suet cakes but mostly just put it and the seeds out when it is very cold or there is snow on the ground.

I have a little garden pond just outside the kitchen window with a little stream part. It's deep enough that with the pump it pretty much never freezes. Turns out in winter birds are as or more attracted to water as food.
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