Aug 29, 2010

The Care and Feeding of the Young. Birds.

I just watched a mother goldfinch jam food into the beak of her teeny-bopper son, who, by the way, looked big enough to go out and get his own seeds for brunch.

This spring and summer the difficulty of life as a bird has registered with more clang than usual. Even in the bird welfare state of my back yard, there’s the feral cat to watch out for. A couple of years ago, a hawk showed up twice, sat out back, staring, a breeze in her feathers. The song birds hid for at least two days after my last sighting of the red tail.

For the chickadee and nuthatch, there’s the impressive labor of flying each seed to a branch to pound it open before gulping. (It appears that birds do not chew, so how much pleasure can there be as reward for the work?).

The cardinals aren’t that private or skittish, but there’s still the pounding to go through.

Of course those appealing birds must fight through the hoards of sparrows and squirrels, as common and aggressive as mice.

All of that reminded me of the injured hummingbird video a friend sent yesterday.

YouTube - Peter & Peeps -- Rescued Baby Hummingbird Fed in Hand by Mother

It’s very much a feel-good story, but both the hummer and the goldfinch moms reminded me of the earnest vigor in the parents’ feeding, the avian variation on the old slang, "gag me with a spoon." It really looks like a brief attack on the young, their punishment for begging so shamelessly.

Maybe I’ll remember all this next time.
And as great provider (father?) to all these urchins, there is of course the issue of how much is going on that I don’t see—nurturing, sharing, cuddling, predation, itching, illness, death. About what am I absolutely clueless and how much of it is there?



Anonymous said...

Oh, I like these photos and the meditation.

Even if the young birds overstay their welcome, once they leave they never move back home again.

Banjo52 said...

AH, thanks. And about young birds . . . that's for damn sure. I can't REALLY complain, and I'm very proud of 'em, but I have friends whose kids are right in the area, and, well, you know. And I actually LIKE my . . . "issue." How weird is that?

Pasadena Adjacent said...

That was an incredibly sweet video for what I consider an adorably bad tempered tiny bird.

I have no illusions about the bird kingdom. It's hard core. The hawks use the top of the power pole at the bottom of my hill to bash the brains out of pigeons. The competing mockingbird (or hawk) destroyed the mockingbird nest in my bougainvillea. To add insult to injury, the offending culprit flew off with one of the barely hatched, dropping it on my car windshield. A heat wave was on, so the avian fetus fried stuck to the glass.

I suppose there's a tentative connection to the young leaving the nest. Good luck finding it

Banjo52 said...

"the offending culprit flew off with one of the barely hatched, dropping it on my car windshield. A heat wave was on, so the avian fetus fried stuck to the glass."

PA, Hysterical! You're such a sentimentalist. Your middle paragraph is pretty eloquent--there's probably a better word. Compelling? Cogent?

Thanks! But I have to remain sappy about a few things. Humans have stolen most candidates from the Great Sappy Competition--e.g., government and organized religion, along with a host of other potentially good things. So (with blinders on) I'm hanging on to birds and hillbilly music. For now. A few poems and stories, too.

PJ said...

There's always a birdy drama going on in my neighborhood, life, birth, death, hawks, bluebirds, daddy cardinals feeding baby cardinals (my favorite). But I like it. That's why my home is called Piazza Uccello. The photos are great especially since I know it's so hard to do.

Leslie D. said...

I watched "Peter and Peeps" - an amazing video! I loved it. Thanks for the post

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