Wednesday, August 01, 2007

M. Goldfinch's Pocket and an Eleanor Tauber Wildlife Mini-Gallery

Hazy Sun
92 F.

3:33:09 PM Male Goldfinch is back and has a big fat sunflower seed. Look at the visible foot.

Here it is a little closer. We've looked at M. Goldfinch's feet before but look at that nail. Amazingly long and sharp and that is the middle toe which is a little extra long as well. I never really thought about it very much. But his nail made me think of the use of "nail" for the horny protuberance on the end of digits. It's the same word for the item you pound into wood to connect it to something else. With that foot M. Goldfinch is able to nail himself to sunflowers and other worthwhile vegetation. (And the foot has a scaly tiny little dinosaur-ish look to it.)

3:33:23 PM Wait a minute didn't he just have a big sunflower seed? Did he drop it? He didn't eat it or he'd have the usual fresh sunflower seed residue on his beak. He certainly is going for another.

3:33:38 PM Head down. Looking? Did he drop the seed again? I didn't see it drop. Why doesn't he go down and pick it up if that's the case?

3:33:52 PM There is something about this twisted position that makes me realize just how fragile and small boned and bodied this little guy really is. But nailed to the sunflower with his other foot, he's able to stay connected while going back into the amazing contortionist position necessary for digging yet another seed out.

3:34:02 PM Aha! Victory! He's so pleased that even though he sees me, he isn't undulating away.

3:34:31 PM Oh come on. I've been watching every second and he absolutely did not drop the seed. Is he like Pale Male with seemingly invisible pockets in which he hides food on the fly? Wait! Look at his beak--the very tip. It's dark. Thinking about our Pale Male joke when he arrives with prey when we didn't see it go in, gave me the answer. I just figured it out this minute looking at the photos!

Look at the very tip of his beak. See the dark point of the sunflower seed just barely poking out of it? M. Goldfinch does have a pocket. It's his gullet. He's not eating the seeds now because when he does eat them, he peels off the shell and eats the "meat" inside. He hasn't done that. What he is doing is storing them for travel!
Perhaps for Female Goldfinch who is sitting on the nest?
Look back at the sequence. He plucks a seed and then he seems to be looking down each time afterwards. He may be looking down but that isn't what he's doing. He is getting into the position to manipulate yet another seed down his throat and into his travel "pocket".
And as we can see this latest seed sticking out a little, I'd say, his pocket must be about as full as it can get.

So with at least three large sunflower seeds stored for travel, M. Goldfinch takes off. Though now that I've thought about it, perhaps not for his mate on a nest, considering the latest courtship display of berserk begging baby bird. Perhaps the Mrs. isn't quite on the nest yet. Perhaps as Pale Male brings squirrels to Lola as little pre-copulation gifts, perhaps, M. Goldfinch is bringing some fresh-off- the-flower, delicately-gullet-warmed sunflower seeds as a copulation gift to his mate? Could be. We'll watch and see.
Don't you love those moments of epiphany and discovery? One mystery leads to a discovery which leads to another mystery. And the mysteries never end and therefore the delving for an explanation always holds the hope for yet another moment of epiphany--and then, yet another mystery.
Which brings us to Photographer Eleanor Tauber, a recorder of many a mystery in Central Park. Here is her Mini Wildlife Gallery for today.

Photograph by Eleanor Tauber
As she says tongue in cheek, "A regular ole common Monarch Butterfly". And what could be less common in the mundane sense about an insect, a bug for goodness sake, that migrates 1000s of miles?

Photograph by Eleanor Tauber.
A Red-eared Slider Turtle rises slowly up through the Duck Weed.

Photograph by Eleanor Tauber

Speaking of common, she's a little House Sparrow, Passer domesticus. But look at the expression on her face. She is uncommonly beautiful.

(For more recent posts, click on Palemaleirregulars at the top of the page. D.B.)

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