Thursday, May 21, 2009

Morning Scold; Power of the Internet

apiebabiesYesterday I received constant scolding from the magpies when I went to feed the chickens. As I bent to fill a feeder, I heard clumsy flapping above me. No wonder it was so noisy! Three baby magpies just over my head, holding tight to the branches of their chosen security tree. Must be the first day or so out of the nest.

apie family2Same thing today… it’s bad enough to get scolded by Orioles when the hummingbird feeder runs dry, but now this! Here are 13 seconds of magpie scolding for your listening pleasure. I was lucky—my cat just looked at one of the babies strolling on the ground, and the parents chased him straight out of the yard. Parent on the right, babies hidden among branches in photo left. Can you see the 3rd one below the others?  

ababy pieBecause the babies are huge, and closely resemble the parents, you might want a couple tricks. I have two: the shorter stubby tail compared to the adult’s flowing one, the only long-tailed bird in most of the U.S.* And baby lips, nicely displayed in this portrait of baby #2. 

As far as I can tell, the parents aren’t feeding them, just keeping an eye out that they’re safe.** The babies are trying to figure out the sunflower and suet feeders.

agoldfinchIn fact, it’s a complete zoo out there. Feathers zooming around everywhere, yellow, orange, pretty amazing. Here’s a quick inventory, some of which will have to be added to the May bird list.

To be honest, some of them aren’t zooming, they’re walking around looking for whatever it is towhees and doves and such look for.

Right now, in the yard:

  • Bullock’s Oriole, 2 males, 1 female
  • Black-billed Magpie, mom, dad, 2-3 kids
  • Scrub Jays, 2
  • American Goldfinch, male
  • Spotted Towhee, 3
  • House Finch
  • Mourning Dove, 2
  • English Sparrow, male
  • Broad-tailed Hummingbird, female
  • Common Grackle, 1

Darling Husband, just back from Moab a few days ago, was just commenting on how nice it is to be back amid all our birds! (And we still have some green on the hills, too!) I guess the desert was pretty quiet compared to our yard this time of year.  

Power of the Internet

Tuesday I had a powerful reminder of how not-alone one is online. Sometimes it seems pretty quiet here in blog-land, but within hours of posting the Jelly Lichens story, two interesting things happened. First, I got an email from the lichen curator who discovered the new lichen I mentioned. Very cool of him to stop by, but I can’t figure out how he found out I mentioned him. Second, in attempting to figure out how he discovered the post, I googled “jelly lichens,” and, imagine that, my post came up #5! Right after something called and the USDA Plants profile (who knew they had lichens!), and ahead of my favorite lichen site, I’m still baffled.


So, just remember, next time you google some obscure term or phrase, you could end up at the blog of some highly authoritative fancier of the item in question!

* According to my book, if you're in Texas, you might also get to see the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher; the Fork-tailed Flycatcher occasionally visits Florida. The rest of us will have to make do with Magpies. By the way, "long" in this case means longer than the body.
** Wrong again; the parents are still feeding them. Finally witnessed it late yesterday. See what I mean, authoritative! [grin]


Granny J said...

Speaking of long-tailed birds, don't the boat-tailed grackles venture up to your area or are they confined to the SW border states?

Kenton and Rebecca said...

We haven't seen Magpies since we moved back to Wisconsin from Colorado, and we dearly miss them. Thanks for the juvenile/adult ID help, too! A great line-up at your feeders, it looks like -- it makes us think we should take a count as well.

We've so often found that the internet does indeed lend itself to making incredible connections. Congrats on the high google ranking for the Jelly Lichens! How cool is that? =)

Sally said...

Thanks for checking in--

Granny-- looks like the boat-tails are just yours. I remember them from my Arizona days, but ours aren't as dramatically boated.

K&R-- thanks; I think I would miss them too; they're fun to watch, even if not so great for the songbirds. It was quite an active day yesterday out there; I'll have to stop watching to get any work done!