Saturday, October 14, 2006

Dot is fine but...

...the kitchen window has rather taken on the effect of a Birdie Shroud of Turin.

The danger of birds and windows, personified. An imprint left by feather powder on glass during a collision.

When first a bird comes to my house and before she is allowed to fly free for exercise during cage cleaning. We go through a ritual of visiting all the windows in the apartment.

"See, it's a window." Slight pressure from a finger causes a tiny tap of beak on glass, just in case someone forgets to close a blind. Also as the cages are cleaned after dark, much easier to flip off the light switch and retrieve a sitting bird than to chase it about the house for hours if he's feeling uncooperative. So if a window blind is missed and the glass is exposed all the bird usually sees is a reflection of himself and a bit of apartment as opposed to the tempting great outdoors.

Now I have to admit Dot isn't the brightest bulb in the avian world. His parent's abandoned the nest due to human intervention and his nestmate had already succumbed when a Good Samaritan brought Dot to our door.

And I must say, he didn't look at all well himself. But we got out the Neonate and the syringe and started feeding him. Low and behold Dot turned into a huge member of his species, though as I said a bit challenged when it comes to putting two and two together. He's the only bird ever, who's flown into the glass at our house after going through the" introduction to windows" ritual. Thank goodness he's nearly indestructible.

We'd tried not to human imprint Dot in his babyhood, and as he's a big strong bird we'd hoped to release him. Unfortunately when he took to attempting to copulate with the top of Samantha's blonde head everytime he got near her, (his nestmate was white so blonde was the nearest thing to what he's wired to look for when it comes to mates), it became apparent that a bird that lands on every blonde he sees, isn't going to make it in the wild for long. Dot joined the household flock.
Which brings us to yesterday. Out comes Dot from his cage. He flies to the kitchen and eyes the big plant saucer on the floor filled with water for bathing. He lands next to it and considers..

Now if this were Tip and Edge, they'd already have started their joint effort to remove the lid from the butter dish for a fat snack.

I return to cage cleaning duty....BLAM!

I'm back to the kitchen in a flash. And there's Dot standing on the mixer circling and cooing as if not a thing had happened. Though the Birdie Shroud of Turin is remarkably visible on the the kitchen window. He truly smacked it a good one. As I said, for the moment at least, seemingly indestructible.

Now window blind closing has become as big a priority as say, making sure the cats are all closed up in another room.

Donegal Browne

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Cornfield Technique

A mature Red-tail on a power pole by the roadside, hunting. She's a reasonably common sight in rural Wisconsin. What wasn't so common to me, being used to urban hawks, was her hunting technique in regards to a cornfield
Focused, tensed, then when taking to the air, she followed the visual line of the rows with precision. During each trip between poles, she made a number of long swoops just above the corn before curving to the next pole to perch.

She sits on the pole, focused. Then off she goes again to repeat the same process.

She's now strafed the whole cornfield from end to end, once again following the visual line of the rows, swooping down low to brush the tops of the dried tassels, then swooping up again to land on the next pole.

It made me wonder if perhaps she was driving prey into the farmyard where the cover was shorter and prey more easily nabbed. Or perhaps prey having been herded in that direction, the young or foolish, forgetting about the waiting hawk, might just meander out for a look-see in the green of the yard-and whoosh.

Watching her over a number of days on my trips up and down this road. I always saw her work the field in the same direction-towards the farmyard.