Tuesday, April 28, 2009

All Day Kung-Foo Channel

Today was a rest day, as in I was too darn sore to do much in the garden. I did go grocery shopping and to the lumber yard to get the materials needed for the vertical plant stand Zak is building.

But the real highlight of the day was watching the constant stream of birds visiting the garden. No new species we haven't talked about before, but their antics at this time of the year are better than any Hollywood production.

Right now there's a flock of white-crowned sparrows picking up seed I tossed out a few minutes ago. The males are torn between gobbling down all the seed they can hold, showing off to the girl birds, and trying to beat the tar out of any other male white-crowned sparrow who comes within striking range.

To "impress the girls" a male white crowned sparrow fans his tail, sticks his behind in the air and lays his chest on the ground, head back. What this does to incite the passions of the girls is somewhat of a mystery, but presumably it eventually works, though not yet. The girls are still busy eating themselves silly.

It's the battle scenes which prove most amusing. There's the chase, the aerial combat, beak to beak combat and flying Ninja. Flying Ninja involves a lot of kicking. Apparently stealth counts since one male will sneak up behind another who is preoccupied with feeding, nonchalantly turn his back.... then quickly hop into the air and kick backwards with both feet, knocking his unsuspecting opponent tumbling across the garden. There's also the kick-boxing competition, with kicks and wing smacking. Can't fault them on enthusiasm. I have no idea how they find any time to eat. As Zak just said, "It's like an all day Kung Foo channel!"

The Brewer's blackbirds dance to impress the girls. If you were a blackbird you'd hold your wings out, at shoulder height, extend them halfway, stick your chest out, and shake shake shake your booty. There's some fancy footwork involved in this display of blackbird masculinity, I'm betting that's where male flamenco dancers got idea. For some reason the blackbirds also do this little dance when there are absolutely no other blackbirds around. Maybe they are practicing!

The finches are already paired up, so there's no more fireworks there, unless a male finch tries to get too close to another feller's wife-for-the-season. Then feathers and tempers fly.

The chickadees nip in for a seed one by one, if they even think about girls you can't tell. They don't court at the feeder. Same with the warblers. They come in flocks, and don't bring their courting to the feeder.

The one little quail cock who has popped around for a meal off and on over the winter is now bringing his lady love to our restaurant. Darn their hides, they ate the tomato plant I put in the bed under the willow tree. I hope they don't do that with all my tomato plants or I'll have to screen the entire bunch. I know quail love pea shoots as they ate all the peas from our friends Pat and Claude's garden last spring.

Tomorrow I hope to be back to building, painting, and organizing for Garden Day, which is fast approaching, but today was bird-day.

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