No Summer Reruns-Sep. 2000

No Summer Reruns

The summer weather painted my garden pallet with many new flowers. Where did they come from? I certainly didn’t plant those dainty pinks and tiny purple flowers. The sunflowers just seemed to place themselves.

Winter and spring bird visitors once again helped fashion my garden. They created an eye-catching habitat. As the season of flowers comes to an end, I begin garden cleanup and look for the appropriate place for my winter feeder. The end of September is usually a good time for placing it.

One of my fall and winter pastimes is watching the birds at my feeders. My bird feeder makes a fine headquarters for observing how birds respond to their environment. As I watch I notice the birds body language. For instance, how do the various species respond when a dog, cat, or hawk suddenly appears? How do they approach the feeder? Do many birds of a single species approach? Which species seems to rule the feeder? Do all species, or only some, leave the feeder when a member of the dominant species arrives? Do the birds leave the area or do they wait nearby until the kingpin leaves? Soon you will recognize threat displays that occur when a bird of one species chases another of the same species out of its way. You can also recognize submission behavior in which a threatened bird cowers and moves out of the way.

Make note of which species walk along the ground and which hop. Do they do so habitually? Observe that some birds are left-footed, always moving that foot first when beginning to walk. Many seed-eating birds grasp a large seed in one foot while breaking it open with their beak. Some birds prefer to eat the seeds from the ground. Some eat just sunflower seeds and discard all others.

Many people claim I have too much time on my hands. Why would you notice such silly things about birds? Once a neighbor asked what I was looking at with my field glasses. I told her that a squirrel and a crow had gotten into a scuffle over territory. Her eyes rolled back, and she retired into her home. I watched the crow then the rabbit, and many more small scenarios occurring in my yard. Out she wandered again. “I’m bored,” she exclaimed. “There is nothing on the television; they are all repeats.” I agreed with her, but I knew the program I was watching would never be repeated. It will always arrive at a different ending.

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