Tuesday, April 13, 2010

they're twitterpated

The past few days have distinctly reminded me of the scene in the Disney classic Bambi where the gruff old owl is heading to sleep in his tree one spring morning, but the surrounding songbirds are making such a ruckus with their love songs that he can't get any shuteye. His explanation is simple: "They're twitterpated."

(Okay, so it probably sounds weird that I'm still very familiar with Disney kids' movies. But hey, I have a five-year-old sister.)

I write an informational bird column in our local paper, so I try to stay alert to all the changes in bird behavior around me. Recently I've noticed a lot of new activity, both from the same birds I've been feeding all winter and the new faces migrating back from the tropics, signifying the onset of the breeding season. On my morning walks there are all kinds of twitterpated pairs out: red-winged blackbirds, mallards, chickadees, curlews, even northern harriers.

. . . And then out there in the middle of the field, amid all this energy, is a single Canada goose, quacking mournfully in his loneliness. I feel sorry for him. I wonder what happened to his mate? Did he ever have one?

 Back at the house, we had a pair of Eurasian collared-doves. These turtledove-like birds have been increasing in population in our area, but I've rarely had them in my yard. Maybe it's because I switched from feeding pure sunflower seed to the common millet-based wild bird mix? Do they like millet more than sunflower seeds?

My highlight visitor was this Cooper's hawk, despite the fact that he was preying upon my other feeder-visitors. He failed to catch anything, but I succeeded in getting some good pictures in the meantime. He posed and preened in a state of majestic vanity, taking intermissions only occasionally to stalk my poor traumatized towhees and chickadees.


I find it funny that I should have two unusual and very opposite visitors to the yard in the same day. The Cooper's hawk, a voracious hunter, and two doves, described even in the Bible as "gentle."

Last but not least--my favorite shots of the Cooper's hawk. His red eyes and expression, especially in the final picture, remind me of Darth Maul from Star Wars.

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