Monday, April 02, 2007

Bird Brains

The quail kept coming around the end of the Tinpalace with what looked like popcorn in their beaks, which they then proceeded to eat, after playing a bit of "keep-away" between them. I couldn't figure out where they were getting the popcorn. We'd fed them some in the winter, and they loved it, but we've not even popped corn in weeks.

Then I looked out the window above Tony's bunk. The apricot tree, now with half the buds open and in resplendent bloom, was also full of quail. Quail, busy pulling off and eating buds and blossoms. There goes the apricot crop. :(

The quail are beginning to pair up. Let a single bird come too close to a paired couple and there's hell to pay. Every quail views his neighbour with suspicion. They still move in coveys, but are more scattered, a pair here, a pair ten feet away. Only late in the day do they settle down and run in the usual herd.

The male finches are almost neon red in color this last week or two. Spring has ramped the power up in their marketing campaign. Out the front, where the feeder hangs, a pair of rosy finches are well and truly in love. She feeds him, then he feeds her. They rub beaks and cuddle. He gets another sunflower seed from the feeder, shells it and feeds it to her. She does the same. Ahhhhh, young love, or at least young hormones.....

The Flicker has found a mate and is proclaiming both his love and his territorial imperative by drumming on the metal transformer box high on the power pole. He's quite the drummer. Somewhere in a garage some pimply teenaged boy would give his D grade in English to be able to drum like that.

A pair of English sparrows were courting in the apricot tree mid-day yesterday. He was doing his, "I'm much cute than those losers over there," dance. Male English sparrows impress the girls by lifting their wings up at the shoulder, canting the tips down slightly, and shaking all over like the King of Rock 'n Roll - while singing up a storm. His female admirer seemed pretty taken with him, for when another female landed on a nearby branch the first female went after her like a housewife with a broom goes after a rat in the cellar.

Competition for girlfriends is obviously pretty fierce. Gangs of male sparrows square off and have it it like barroom brawlers, smacking each other with their wings, kicking, pecking, swearing in sparrow and generally causing a ruckus. Four or five will get into a fight in a tree and fall right out onto the ground and roll around in a ball of screaming flapping feathers, just whaling the daylights out of each other.

Somebody forgot to tell them that we have romanticized their reproductive drive and we expect them to behave in a civilized and polite way. In other words we want to see lovebirds in the spring, not Termifeather III.


SMM said...

Fine form, fine form indeed.

Here the hummingbirds are fighting over supremacy of the feeder.

Saw roughly a thousand Brant geese on Saturday or Sunday afternoon while at the beach.

Mandy said...

I love the last paragraph. I came back and reread this post today just for that. :)