I never forget to feed the birds. Every time I go outside, my muscle memory moves my eyeballs to the feeders to see if they need to be refilled.
But what I do forget is that, judging by how vocal they’re becoming, they’re getting into the mood for finding a mate and building a nest. The daylight clings a little longer, and all the trees – I just know it – are starting to stir. So this year I wanted to add another element to the backyard: a little depot for nesting supplies. Now most birds are going to use natural goodies, like twigs, moss, and (if you’re a hummingbird) even spider web silk, but birds are opportunists and if they decide yarn or dog hair would benefit the nest, they’ll certainly use it.
Cross the jump to see what I did this year!
Hipstamatic photo and update quickie of the bad bad blue jay brothers. The Little Shits are huge and nearly ready for release. They molted some of their secondary feathers, which are critical for flying, so I’ve had to hold on to them longer than usual as those feathers grow back. It’s likely that spending several days on the ground without food and water caused malnourishment to the point that the feathers fell out. Fortunately they’re on their way back in!
Tonight will be their first night alone, outside; the nature center has a little wildflower barn covered in fine mesh where they can experience ‘outside’ without actually being outside. Needless to say, I’m nervous, but also excited to get some rest tonight. They’ve learned that squawking and bustling around their cage is a fun activity, especially at night when Momma is trying to sleep. While the secondaries that fell out are important for lengthy flight, the primaries they still have left allow them to experiment with shorter bursts of flight. They each took their first “long”-ish flight the other night, from the top of their cage to the large aloe plant on the other side of my wee apartment, a distance of approximately 15 or 20 feet. Gump went first, several times, egging Bubba on until Bubba went for it too. They were visibly excited, although their collective ability to land is still completely without grace and needs some work. Baby steps.
Trouble in a bird suit.
They got their first meal of mealworms, which Gump dove into right away. Bubba was unimpressed with crawling food but after watching his brother hork down several of the squirmy bugs, he gave it a tentative try. And then they were fighting over them, chasing each other in long hops around the hardwood floors – tap tap tap TAPTAPTAPTAP.. tap tap taptaptaptap TAP TAP SQUAWK tap tap tap.
At that point they were placed lovingly back into their cage because Momma was exhausted from staying up all night watching Pirates of the Caribbean and needed a nap. Today they got to try earthworms and were visibly confused/interested/unsure. To be fair, the worms are night-crawlers used for fishing and they’re huge. Each time the worm moved, the jays hopped and fluttered into the air, landing around the worm but not exactly running from it. Gump stood up straight, stretched his neck and cocked his head to the side. He peered at the worm with first his left eye, then turned his head to peer with his right eye. He tentatively grabbed the worm and then released it, flying up to land on a small ledge to regain some courage.
This went on for some time until I took up the worm and, apologetically, cut it into smaller pieces. This tactic was met with great enthusiasm – Gump immediately grabbed up on wiggling segment and flittered off with it to experience the fine food on his own. Bubba ran after, curious to see what Gump would do with it. Hopefully they’ll learn to take whole worms.
The things we do for those we love! :) Hope you all are having a wonderful Sunday!
I just came across this article and had to share it with you guys. I got my BA in Anthropology and Archaeology in college, so anything having to do with paleoanthropology or paleontology makes my little nerd heart sing with joy.
You can imagine how this artist’s rendering of a giant ancient penguin makes me feel.