Saturday, December 22, 2007

Friday, December 21, 2007

If It's Not One Thing...'s another. Well dear readers, I'm down with a technical problem.

Yeah, he's back eating snow, but at least it's not yellow.


Donegal Browne

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Open Water and Secret Lives

There is a dam with a spill that creates Trippe Lake. And though it is bitter cold, below that rushing water, and because of it, there is open water below the damn.

And the birds make use of it. It's not just the big geese that swim around like the three above in frigid water, but also the little birds work the area for sustenance.

See the very thin ice near the edges? When the birds first step up they crack through the ice and then their webbed feet so handy for swimming, enable them by their width, to walk on thinner ice than one would think.

The second goose reaches sturdy ice and postures while the first preens the ice crystals off his feathers.

The second approaches the first, head down and touches him with her head.

The head and neck go over her into a kind of warmth sharing goose hug. Look carefully and you'll see three pairs in variations of the goose hug. With the male intertwining his mate and sharing his warmth with her.
And to think that some people find them nothing but a nuisance. These are creatures who mate for life and sometimes fade and die for no other reason than their mate has died before them.

Look. Some of the other geese, in the case of each pair, turn and watch the couples embrace. I wonder why?

When I pulled up to the house, I noticed that someone, no make it two someones had been walking on my roof.

And look at that, there are TWO crows in the tree above the house. Imagine that.

After stowing the car and my things, I looked out the back. And there was a Crow who noticed me immediately but wait, look at the branch underneath him. See the legs. There is the second Crow eating something.

The top Crow is off, cawing. But the second, mostly obscured, continues his meal.
He then makes his way to his previous partner's perch and continues pulling at something he'd carried up with him.

Another bite,

and then he too looks my way and is gone.
Donegal Browne

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

He's Out There Somewhere

But where?

The House Finches don't crowd the feeder and are wary and flee at the slightest movement or noise.

Most of the Mourning Doves are in defensive positions in the trees. The Juncos are completely missing in action. These two Doves are gleaning under the cover of stalks and tomato cages.

First looking one direction,

turning back in to the seed,

while the second bird looks in the other direction.

Just lowering her head to eat can be dangerous.
Donegal Browne

Monday, December 17, 2007

Doorstep Dove and Family in the Junco's Spruce Tree

Today there were 27 Mourning Doves in the flock in the feeding area. With so much snow covering wild food, and the frigid temperatures, wind chill below zero, the country doves are also coming into town and availing themselves of the feeders.

For two days there have been long periods of time in which the passerines make themselves scarce. This of course makes me wonder where the raptor is, but after two days of searching I have yet to discover it's perch.

Doorstep arrived by herself with only two brave Juncos as the vanguard to the feeding area. They ate, making up for lost time. The mass of Mourning Doves and an increased flock of Dark-eyed Juncos then arrived at which time Doorstep flew up into te closest Maple and perched. The Red-belled Woodpecker made a cameo appearance at the cylinder feeder. Yesterday during the snow, I was standing directly outside the door and very near to the wooden feeder when I heard a "meep, meep" and the White-breasted Nuthatch flew directing above my head, nipped a sunflower seed and took off with it. It was as if I wasn't even there.

Eventually, Doorstep flushed off the Maple branch and flew directly to one of the Junco's Spruce Trees. The entire flock followed her in. I begin to believe that she, having already eaten, had taken on the job of sentinel. The Juncos flushed as well but took off for the Spruce trees on the other side of the yard. Within minutes the Juncos were back eating seed off the snow under the feeders.

But the Doves, sat in the Spruce for their evening lull in the sunset warming themselves as the light became progressively more golden. It's interesting that they've never gone for the Spruce before. It was always the wires or in pre-raptor days, Doorstep and Company circled the bath in the evening as the sun went down. As the all followed her, I began to wonder if Mourning Doves had a matrilineal society. Occasionally the males may do a hop, hop at each other it's rather rare. Doorstep's family follows her behavior. And today the whole group went to an entirely different sunset spot by her lead.

Which brings us to the one Junco in the Junco Spruce. He'd been inside the Spruce somewhere and when the Dove's landed he mosied out to see what was going on. And to tell you the truth he seemed rather stunned by the whole thing. This has been a Junco tree for years. Then I realized, wait, all the other Junco's were at the feeding area. Was this the sentinel Junco of this Spruce. Do they leave someone to watch and make sure that a Cooper's doesn't sneak into the Spruce and lay in wait for them so he can nab them as they come in after being flushed?
The laying in wait technique is popular with some predators. When my African Grey Parrot, Quicksilver had recently arrived to live with us, I went to put him into his sleep cage for the night and what did I find? Chekhov our Maine Coon cat was inside Silver's cage sitting as neat as you please on his perch--waiting for him.

Mr. Junco comes out a step further as a Mourning Dove flies in precipitously and somewhat unsuccessfully for the previously selected perch.

He ends up in the bottom row, acts like he had meant to do it all the time, and begins to eat snow.

One dove keeps watch to the left, the second to the right, and the third keeps an eye on the portal through the tree.

He heads towards it for a better vantage point.

Three in a row. One looks left, one looks right, and I guess if you're in the center without a necessary vantage point you get to nap.

Mr. Junco comes down from his high vantage point to watch the snow eating Dove. Still possibly wondering if they're going to leave tonight or if there won't be much room at the inn tonight for his extended family. Then he begins to watch Snow Eater even more closely. In less than a minute Junco begins to imbibe of it as well.

It gets darker. The sun is down. Soon all the Mourning Doves fly away to a more usual roost. Mr. Junco seems quite relieved and takes off for the feeding area for a little seed to go with his snow.
Donegal Browne

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Food please?



A Dove with a dent from hunkering down on a wire and waiting for the raptor to leave.

The five minute feeding frenzy.

Donegal Browne