Wednesday, July 18, 2007


I wish I could photograph the birds in my back yard like Anonymous and Melissa can. I know jb and i share the space with wrens and baby wrens, robins, bluejays, a pair of doves?, one small yellow bird, and at least one magnificent yellow, black and orange bird who visits infrequently.
But I cannot take photographs because I do not know how to make my camera do what I want it to do. I can't master the close-ups. So instead, here's what I can do: meet the birdhouses at #9. Three presently have bird families in them. The last two weeks the babies are having flying lessons: these little birds bouncing inches at a time on their two feet at the top of my fence and flying from the birdhouse to the nearby tree branch and back. And chirping up a storm.

This is the summer of my beginning bird education. I am watching them, loving them, and learning about them. Except I know so little. I am therefore asking the following questions and/or offering the following observations and hope that Anon, Melissa, Hildegarde, and anyone else who knows birds can fill me in:

1. Birds look like they are nervous all the time. Their heads never stop darting from one side to another,
I presume to spot predators. Do they ever relax?

2. How do birds sleep? Upright? Do they ever lie down?

3. What's going on in those birdhouses? In 90 degree temperatures, how come the inhabitants don't get too hot in there?

4. How are babies trained to fly and eat and survive, and how long before they're on their own?

5. Do non-domestic birds ever bond with humans?

6. Does one family of birds stick together for life?

7. Do birds mix /befriend/hang out with other species of birds?

8. How much and how far do birds fly? I know it varies, but how about some rough ideas?

9. What else do I want to know?

And speaking of birds and families and wings and roots, here's my own little bird of the decade. Mr. Ryan is now 6 months old


  1. Some good questions, kj! I have many of those, too. I keep a bird idebtification book in my kitchen just for observational purposes. This year we have a pair of woodpeckers (Red-shafted Common Flickeres -- rarer than Pileated Woodpeckers here) living in our yard. They discovered the cherry trees like all the other neighbourhood birds! Getting photos has been fruitless (get it? :) so far.

  2. 1. Yes, they relax at night. 2.They don't lie down, silly, they sit on a branch and squat a bit. 3. Maybe the birdhouse is located with the flyopening to the East and maybe they have airco in it. 4. From newlaid egg to flying bird...approx.5 weeks. 5. No, never heard of. 6. No, except if it is an extreme nice family. 7. You mean in an café? 8.I don't know how it is with you,but here we have birds who fly thousands of miles to the south of Europe and come back in spring. Very small birds do that too. But there are also a lot of birds who stay where they are. 9. No idea, but I think this is enough for one summer evening :-) What a cute little boy, that Ryan of yours.

  3. Birds are so wonderful, trully and symbollically. They are free to leave the earth and we are not.

    Thanks for the comment. And I added Singleton's name as a co-writer, like you pointed out was correct. Thanks for dropping by!

  4. Extra sweet birdhouses KJ! 'Your' birds reside inside because of the grand covering of trees above and most probably plants that hold their natural diet (fruit, bugs etc.) The answer to almost all of your questions are different depending on what 'particular' bird you are asking about. For example number one sounds like small birds; pelicans for example don't have darting heads :) Birds do relax when sleeping, although always alert. Some even keep one eye open! 2. Many birds sleep perched but others lie down. Most snuggle in a nest. Jack (Red-Collared Lorikeet) sometimes sleeps on his back 3. Your little birds have down feathers which regulate their temperatures, they act as thermal insulators. 4. Parents train their children, although some just 'fly'. The length of time before being on their own varies. Magpies for example are on their own after one year. 5. Many birds, especially those living in suburbia, bond with humans who take the time to bond with the bird. This would involve food which does the most 'bonding'. Birds remember and return to food sources. 6. Some families stick for life - like kookaburras HHAHHAHAAAAA. 7. Ducks are well known to mix with other types of ducks - especially Mallards. 8. Some birds fly to the other side of the world! 9. Rainbow lorikeets nest in logs or holes in trees :) Happy six months Ryan!

  5. andrea, after my share of years on the planet, it's time i learned about my tweeting and chirping co-inhabitants. i'm now noticing birds everywhere!

    wieneke, thank you so much. what interesting answers. bird mates and dates in a cafe. i like the whole idea. as for ryan, he is quite awesome. he reaches, tracks, turns over, and now giggles.i'm in love yet again.

    eric, thanks for the visit. birds don't really leave the earth--they look freer because they can soar where we can't. but then again, they can't enjoy a spaghetti dinner....glad you added singleton's name. good for you!

    anon, see what a influence you and jack are! plus i think i've enticed you to leave the longest comment ever! and what a wealth of a comment it is! do you mean to say those little wrens have a nest somewhere in a tree or bush?

    today i learned kookaburras bond for life. just like ces and me!--who, by the way, is hopefully enjoying her rotating implementing whirls and twirls.

    ces, ok. alright. fine. i miss you bigtime :)

  6. Hhehheheeee, I was twittering KJ! Understood the wrens were nested in your birdhouses? I meant they chose your bird houses because there are trees above like in photo number five :) Different types of wrens nest in different ways and different places. Ask Santa for a bird identification book for Christmas ... I am (would you believe I don't have one yet either :))

  7. oh. you mean the wrens continue to live in the birdhouse even after the babies can fly on their own?

    you mean they take up permanent residency in the birdhouse?

    oh. i'm on the lookout for more birdhouses. the funkier, the better.

    (thanks anon)


  8. Depends on what type of wrens they are KJ! Our Fairy-Wrens here, breed almost every month of the year! The male also has a harem of females ;) The fairies call "'triri-tirirrit-tirit-trit-tirrririt-trit-tirrit" only when breeding (which is most of the time).

  9. See here if you can find your wrens :)

  10. Hi, KJ! I'm jumping in at #5, with a plea for humans NOT to do this.
    As a raptor rehab person, the hardest task we faced was trying to get birds out of human imprint, which is what happens when they are raised in human environment and don't develop the ESSENTIAL wild skills.
    You just can't release a whopping great eagle if there's a chance it will want to land on someone's shoulder!
    I'm taking your space! Sorry; I should write my own post.
    And yes, go get more wackydoodle bird boxes!

  11. oh, baby Ryan is getting so big so fast! And beautiful! Sorry I can't help you girl, don't know anything about birds except I love to watch them! all my birdhouses are chock full of killer wasp families! They hang out in communes, and with no landlords to keep the peace, I guess they just get squatters rights. I'm sure not running them out!

  12. Mr Ryan looks like a great kid, I can understand you being proud!

    Taking photo's of birds is very difficult. They are so small, you need a hell of an expensive and light sensitive lens. A couple of nature photographers I know personally use Canon equipment and the canon 500L lens. The lens costs over 6000 $. Yep, more than 6 grand for a lens. Amazing, not.
    I paid over 2 for my latest piece of glass, but over 6, no, my wife would likely declare me crazy.
    So don't worry about not being able to photograph birds, you need equipment and a hell of a lot of patience.

  13. It's not a secret I'm not very fond of birds but I suppose the way they live is very interesting.

    Now, Mr. Ryan, is growing up so fast! He's adorable!

  14. anon, i bought a bird field book tonight!

    dinahmow, i like it when you visit my blog. point well taken. as far as i know anon feeds wild birds, but i think that is to their benefit. right, anon?

    singleton, hey! i have a wasp family in one of the birdhouses too and i'm telling you right now i plan to murder them. soon.

    pieterbie, go to anonymous' bird blog. (you can click on from her comment here). i don't know what kind of equipment she has but, man, does she manage to talk upclose shots of all kinds of birds. $ 6000 for a lens. wow.

    chirp. tweet. twitter. :)

  15. mench, you snuck in as i was typing my replies. why do birds really creep you out?--do you know? i can say for sure i certainly would not want one inside my house.

    i feel so trite talking about ryan. he is so damn riveting and adorable.


  16. WOOOHHOOO you're on your way to being a real bird stalker now KJ! Apart from the birds who steal our food (quite a few), the birds I feed, (backyard and Jack) are rehabilitated and have not been able to re-adjust to being completely 'wild' again. However, their lives have been saved - particularly Baldie:) I recommend planting the correct trees and having a bird bath to encourage birds to your backyard (and fancy houses)

    Oh, and I don't use a very expensive camera ... Canon Powershot S3 IS :)

  17. i'm scared of their feathers. no traumatizing moment when i was a child. i'm just plain scared of them. something happened in a former life maybe?

  18. Oooo, bird questions! Fun!

    1. Birds are a lot more relaxed than they look. Their lives are pretty much made up of looking for food and flitting around. 2. Most birds sleep sitting up, their feet are made in such a way that when they relax their toes lock so they won't fall off their perch! 3. They can use their feathers kind of like vents to help regulate their body temps, and they scoot out for a breather regularly. Loons trade nesting duties! 4. Many fledglings learn on their own, getting pretty much shoved out of their nests, but there are aspects of life that mom and dad teach them. 5. Loon pairs mate for life and meet up at the same bit of water every spring, despite spending the entire winter apart, drifting around out on the ocean. 7. I don't know about befriend, but they seem to hang out a bit, especially at feeders. 8. An Arctic tern can travel as much as 20,000 miles a year; sandhill and whooping cranes can travel as much as 2,500 miles a year; and a barn swallow 6,000. 9. Ducks and other water birds have this very cool circulating vein system in their feet that is set up in such a way that the warm blood heats up the blood that has gotten cold due to the water temp. This system evens things out so that their feet are totally comfortable and maintain a constant temperature beneath frigid waters!

    Ryan is such a doll! :)

  19. i knew melissa and anon would offer up great knowledge about birds. wieneke's info was a special treat. dinahmow knows what she's talking about.

    and mench, who knows, someday you may fall in love with a little bird. parakeets were my first feathered love affair.


  20. Ryan is such a cutie! He always has a grin on his face.

  21. Thanks, KJ, the bird blog you pointed out to me isn't bad.
    If you'd like to see some really stunning bird photo's, then visit my friend Tinne's site:

  22. "Isn't bad" Hmmm. If I had the money for better equipment it is true I could take better photographs! KJ, I started photographing birds for the first time in April when Jack first arrived :)

  23. Hi KJ - I think all your questions were covered LOL Very nice bird house photos! And hooray on getting a field guide - its way more fun when you can find out who someone you see was....funny sentence that, eh?
    Looking forward to hearing who youve spotted when you get spotting! Cheers!

  24. anon, your photographs are

    i could go on. but no need to. i am in awe. i can't believe you started just a while ago.

    you are my heroine for the day, anon (don't tell jack)

  25. *blush* It's the 21st now KJ!

  26. Another blog gone to the birds!