bird facts

Favorite Search of the Week

1 John 2:
1. My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:
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It has been too long since I have done one of these. Not only have the search terms been reduced,  but overall my time spent blogging has dropped. But this one made me laugh, so was worth passing on.

birders are a crazy bunch

I am not able to determine which post they went to; maybe just to the blog itself. ???

Birders probably do seem a bit crazy, or if anything, just a little off.  Our birding is not very extreme, though I still question the sanity of our 1 January’s outing.

Right now I feel we are more in the bird-watching mode, rather than birding. Birding requires activity; we’ve not gone out to find many birds in this weather.  Our sightings lately have mostly been from the windows.

Non birders may recognize there are birds around, but just do not think much of them.  I know, I was there.  But now that we are birders, we recognize who they are and sometimes understand their behaviour and what they might be communicating.  Then there are other times, we can only guess what is being said…

Red-bellied Woodpecker and Western Meadowlark

Red-bellied Woodpecker on his belly and a Western Meadowlark

I have never seen these two species interact in any way before, especially because in normal situations, they belong in different habitats.  Oh, I like living out here!

Categories: bird facts, di fekkel

Mites’ Effect on Birds

Romans 8:
22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
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This was written months before Google withheld the info about search terms.  It has been sitting in Drafts and it is time to set it free.  :)  I believe I mentioned that my earlier post gets a lot of visitors from search engines.  A lot.  Most often it is people dealing with mites of unknown type (They just assume “bird”.) on themselves or in their homes, but now and again there are searches from those wondering about the birds.

Back in August, I received two from the same individual.  I do not know their story, but assume it didn’t have a happy ending.

Day one: mites crawling on baby junco
Day two: mites kill baby juncos

Another search: how mites kill birds

I have written before that birds are given several means to deal with mites, but these are fully developed birds.  They preen, bathe, “ant”…    Sometimes they have more mites than normal and this will cause bald spots where they cannot reach.  This is usually the head area, and even under the wings.

Most, if not all, perching songbirds are altricial (blind and naked) when they hatch.  They are helpless to remove these mites.  In the cases of extreme infestation, the babies will hop out of the nest before they can fly.  We believe this is what happened to our one baby Barn Swallow. They are trying to remove themselves from the irritation, but this places them at risk for predation from outdoor cats, raccoons, and other birds that prey on the young, such as grackles.   Even if they do not hop out of the nest, the loss of blood from the multitude of bites can cause them to become weak and die.

In a quick search, I found a case where a family tried helping baby birds with mites, using the instructions rehabbers gave them.  What I learned is this takes care of the mites, BUT this can create a worse problem.  The parent birds, not seeing or hearing their young (The babes were taken into the house for treatment.) abandoned the nest.  The young were going to be placed in a new nest near the old, but unknown to the family, it was too late. After placing the new nest out, they saw the adults near the feeder and heard the young chirping. They believed all was well..  Later they discovered the truth; the young died from starvation.

One thing I was noticed while reading this whole story is yes, there were mites.  They were all over the little birds and hopping off after the spray from the pet store was applied.  They were on the humans.  The rehabber told the couple these mites will not harm them.  They just rinsed their hands and arms off frequently while dealing with the birds.  No infestation for the humans!

Something this brings out is nature is cruel at times.  Sin causes so much heartache for us and distress for flora and fauna.  I appreciate the couple’s attempt at helping the birds,  They contacted the proper people. They did the right thing, they followed the directions given.  Even so, the young did not survive.

We groan with creation…

Categories: bird facts, dangers to birds, di fekkel, God's truth, ponder, sadness | Leave a comment

Sounds of Spring… in the Fall

Job 2:
10 But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips.
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Robins singing.
robin

Bluebirds discussing.
bluebirds

The temperatures felt right, but yet it is the wrong time of year in our part of the world. I recently read a blurb that some birds’ hormones may kick in with the length of autumn days, so they begin some breeding activities like nest building, singing out territorial songs, etc. Personally, I am not so sure of that… birds would recognize seasons by where the sun is positioned in the sky.  One of the many things that keep the birds interesting.  Just when we think we know something.

Here is another photo of our project.  If anything gives a clue as to what bird this might be for, this will be it.  Sorry about the advertising, but it’s what they used.  :)  Any ideas what it might be? Leave a comment if you wish.
project3

In a future post, I will share the final picture and detail what was done.  I missed photographing one of the major steps, so will explain what and why.   I have been asked to write about our big project for a local newsletter, so it will get me in practice.  The deadline for that is early spring, so I have some time yet.

Categories: big project, bird facts | 7 Comments

Iowa’s Swallows

Proverbs 26:
1 As snow in summer, and as rain in harvest, so honour is not seemly for a fool.
2 As the bird by wandering, as the swallow by flying, so the curse causeless shall not come.
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There are not many families of birds seen in Iowa that we can say every regular species has been in our yard. But we can say this of all six Iowa’s Swallows.

Tree Swallow

Northern Rough-winged Swallow
(Perched on box. Female Tree Swallow in box)

Barn Swallows
Two nearly fledged young on our front porch

Bank Swallow

Cliff Swallow

And lastly…  (Don’t let the name fool you; this is the largest North American Swallow.)

Purple Martins Male and two female/immature Martins

Purple Martins
Adult male and two female/immature Martins

Two other swallows (Cave and Violet-green) have been recorded in Iowa, but these are accidental species, not regular breeders or migrants.

For those who do not know birding lingo, I should explain “accidental” to you.  There are different degrees of rarity with bird sightings. I will use the terminology found on the IOU website, since I am in Iowa.

  • Regular- seen every or nearly every year (minimum 8 years of last 10)
  • Casual- seen at least 3-8years in the last 10 years
  • Accidental- seen less than four of the last 10 years.

Now it seems their definition of Casual and Accidental overlap, but I do not know all the details of record keeping.  :).

Categories: bird facts, di fekkel, Iowa

Stay Safe

Proverbs 11:
13 A talebearer revealeth secrets: but he that is of a faithful spirit concealeth the matter.
14 Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety.
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This sweet little Mourning Dove has been a regular visitor the last few days. About 5 pm every evening, he (gender not known) comes for a snack and to rest.
lovemydove

He feels safe enough to relax awhile.
besafe

I am glad he is here; we are a no hunting allowed property.  I still cannot get over the fact dove hunting was ever allowed!  It’s not like these birds are a problem.  I just don’t get it.

Unlike many other seed eating birds, they do not waste anything.   Their bills are not very strong, They were not made for pecking open hard shells, so these birds eat the whole seed,  shell and all.  They prefer to eat off the ground, so whatever others drop, they clean up.  They are not picky about their seeds.  They will eat the fairly expensive safflower seeds and Nyjer thistle as well as the weed seeds along the side of the road.

Oops! His head is connected to his body in the proper manner. He was just in the middle of preening.  I thought it looked funny.
backwards

Have you ever startled or been started by a Mourning Dove?  They take off with a whistling sound.  This is not a vocalization, but the sounds is actually coming from their wings.  They seem to be able to control this as I’ve seen doves take off without a sound, but when they are panicked, their panic will cause me to jump out of my skin.

Another piece to the puzzle.  Can you tell what our project might be?  Here are some earlier posts about this.

project

Categories: anti-hunting, big project, bird facts | 8 Comments

Michigan’s State Bird

Proverbs 23:
4 Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.
5 Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.
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This is also Wisconsin’s and Connecticut’s state bird. I have written about this bird several times but kept forgetting to mention whose state bird it is.

Our familiar American Robin.

bugeater

After one Robin took a bath, this next one hopped in to catch a fly that was floating on the water.

We enjoy watching them as much as any other bird.  In the spring and early summer, we can see them tugging on those worms, but as you see above, this is not the only bug they will eat.  It is a joy to watch the young tag along the adults as they learn to hunt for food.

The Latin name for our plump bird is Turdus migratorius, though not very pretty sounding, means migrating thrush.  This is a bit of a misnomer in some areas.   While the bird indeed does go south from Canada, Alaska, and  a small portion of Northern USA in the fall, it is actually year round in much of the continental United States.  In the winter, their diet changes from bugs to berries, so they head into the wooded areas to find abundant food sources.

Categories: bird facts, Provincial/state birds