bird facts

A Bobolink’s Story

Proverbs 24:
1 Be not thou envious against evil men, neither desire to be with them.
2 For their heart studieth destruction, and their lips talk of mischief.
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bobolink

Birds do not think like humans.  I know that. But when I saw this voiceless beauty, I had to think…

“I just returned from weeks of roaming.  This is the place where I raised a family the last two summers.  This year I went elsewhere. Why did I have to look for greener pastures?

I came back this spring, all ready to find a mate or two and have some children, but noticed some changes. Part of my land was cut down, some trees were a little larger. That curly dock and thistle is really getting out of hand.

I left.

I went down yonder where the tall grasses were blowing. A perfect place without many little two-leggeds roaming about with their course, spontaneous songs.  Such loud unseemly bursts of noise hurt my ears.  At times, there were loud things connected to the two-leggeds. They did not often come too close, but they left destruction in their path, cutting down those grasses and plants we like to hide and feed in.  I wanted to raise my family in peace.

I found a lovely dear who was very impressed with my song and flight.  Not only one, but three wives to give me a large family.  I have my favorite and it is her young that I help most with the feeding.  Oh, don’t give me that look… this is how I was made;  it’s what I do.  You enjoy the song God gave us, right?

Soon the eggs were going to hatch, and I expected to be quite busy for a while.   I hear a strange noise, but I ignored it, figuring it would stay out of my territory like at the other place. I continued guarding the ladies.  Or tried, I had never heard anything quite like this and oddly, this noise was getting louder.

OH! It’s coming here!  Right in my territory!  It barrels right in!  Just in time the ladies flee, but the eggs, the nests…  they must remain.   How could this be?!

I found a metal post and sat there alone, mourning all my unseen children.  Another beast follows throwing the grasses and nests around a bit.

I didn’t go far, staying here overnight.  Another roaring beast comes the next morning, but I didn’t have the heart to move.  What more can these beasts do?  I shortly found out.   All those grasses are swallowed by the beast and spit out as huge rolls.   Why must all these grasses, nests and eggs be tightly wound up?

Eventually, these rolls were taken away.  To where, I don’t know.  The grasses are beginning to grow again, but what is the point now? This might happen again and really, it’s too late to start another family.

My ladies left to parts unknown.  Now I just wander, eating what I can until the South calls again.  I’ll see my pals there.  I look forward to that, one in particular.  He will understand.  His story is different, but still an ending of loss.

He found a nice quiet spot, fairly close to a creek.  He enjoyed harmonizing with the flowing water.  His ladies built their nests and most of the eggs hatched.  The children’s feathers came in, but they could not yet fly.  When they were so close to taking wing, big black four-leggeds came over and started munching the grass.  Their heavy feet tromped here and there without a thought and some of the young were crushed.  Others were able to scamper around avoiding the footfalls.

Those little ones no longer remember the horror and are now having their own families.  Some experience what their father and I did, but have no idea what to do about it.  What protection do our eggs and little nestlings have?  I do not have the strength to turn those things away.

Our friend, the Killdeer, always tries that silly broken-wing fit of his; it does nothing but tires him out.  The eggs are still smashed.  The Meadowlarks, Horned Larks, Grasshopper Sparrows…  they have similar stories.

Today, I decided to come back to this less than perfect place.  The area cut down was not so large even though it seemed huge this spring.  I overheard them talking about it.  They are trying to replace what has been lost.  It is not as easy as they thought and will attempt a little fire later on to see if this won’t help.  Those trees, yes, they are a little larger, but there are no more.  In fact, I noticed one of the two-leggeds cutting down some stray trees.

I should come back next year and not think too much about what might have been.”

The End.

I wrote this because it is possible not many know the cost for the birds and other wildlife just to get beef on our tables.  People eat the beef… the cattle eat this grass.    Hay is best gathered during nesting season so the farmer’s get the most nutrients for their herds.   I prefer grass-fed beef (link goes to where we got our latest batch) from cattle allowed to roam rather than the cows from feedlots that are fed who knows what.  There are no easy answers.  I wish there were.

I focused on the beef industry today, but energy in the form of wind farms also cause loss to birds and wildlife. 

Just some stuff for you to think about when you pick up that package of ground beef, or are convinced to buy a product because they boast of using wind power.   I cannot think of any energy we use that does not come with an environmental price.  Oil, wood, coal, natural gas, solarThe amount “needed” is continually rising.  Can these things be harvested in such a way to lessen the harmful impacts? 

God created the resources; He knew man would discover how to use them.   Yet He created beauty and wonderment in the form of plants and animals.  I cannot see that He would want us to destroy them in the use of the resources.

Categories: bird facts, Creation, dangers to birds, ponder, sadness | 1 Comment

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

Likeable Criminals?

1 Thessalonians 5:
21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.
23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
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I belong to a birding forum. I enjoy discussing birds with others and at that place I have a listening ear. :)  It is not a Christian place, though there are a few who say they are.

It is interesting how just a few words reveal a lot about the character of a person.  I am not even referring to gutter talk.  I do not know much about these people on the forum, but a couple stand out. One refuses to stop using lead shot because he just doesn’t believe the studies of lead’s impact on birds and the environment. That’s odd in this day and age. Ah, but he claims he couldn’t afford to hunt otherwise.   Maybe the real reason?   When talking about Grackles, another person says they like them because they remind her of little gangsters. Uum…

Gangsters are criminals.

This really shows the state of fallen man, when the behaviour of criminals is considered likeable.

For those who do not know birds, criminal is probably a good word to describe the grackles. They will harass nest-building birds , so they can take over that tree for their own use. They will eat the heads off of young birds. Some say they bully other birds at the feeders.  Maybe they do, but we’ve not seen too much of this.  Their numbers and their size alone could clear a feeding area of the smaller birds, but that really isn’t bullying.  Watch a Red-bellied Woodpecker sometime.

great-tail

The thing is grackles do not have the emotions and mindset that we do. Their behaviours are led by instinct. Grackles and other so-called pest birds were created perfectly by the Lord. They were not created with these characteristics. What happened was Adam and Eve disobeying the one rule the Lord had for them.

Categories: bird facts, God's truth, ponder

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