Prairie View

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Birds--Outside and In

The "Outdoors" section of today's paper announced the annual Backyard Bird Count on President's Day Weekend. Results can be posted online at www.birdcount.org after only fifteen minutes of observation some time during that weekend. I think I will enter, but I can predict now what my list will contain, at least if I do my observing of the feeders from the dining room or kitchen windows.

I will list House Sparrow, Harris' Sparrow, and Dark-Eyed Junco. These three are the most common visitors. Quite possibly, the Cardinal and Red-Bellied Woodpecker will drop in during my observation time. Goldfinches and House Finches may arrive. Field sparrows, and an occasional White-Crowned or White-Throated Sparrow might mingle with the more pedestrian members of the Sparrow family. What I will very likely not see are Chickadees, Blue Jays, and Tree Sparrows, all frequent visitors in years past. This is the first year I haven't seen Tree Sparrows. I wonder if these northern nesting birds have also succumbed to West Nile Virus, as Chickadees and Blue Jays seem to have done. Others in our community sometimes see Nuthatches and even a Tufted Titmouse. I have never seen these at our feeders. The Red-Shafted Flicker used to come to the feeder when we lived where my brother Lowell now lives. I sometimes see Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers in the trees around the house, but never yet at the feeder.

Bird life inside the house gets interesting too sometimes, as it did today when Grant got our very tame Parakeet, Magog, out of his cage to play with while Shane's girlfriend, Dorcas, was here. While he was heading back to his spot on the couch, he stepped past Dorcas. Magog chose this precise moment to deposit a dropping on Dorcas' leg. Bad timing, but good for very hearty laughter from all observers. Shane came to the rescue with a damp rag.

Then, like a stubborn two-year-old, Magog refused to perform his "How are you?" trick for our guests. He's inclined to mix it in with lots of unintelligible vocalizations--not on cue, to impress company.

As soon as the weather warms up a bit, I plan to take Magog to school to live there for a while. He has spent a good part of his life there, and has made lots of friends. He even appeared once in our spring program when the students sang "A Woodland Symphony." He fluttered so convincingly on Ida's finger (never leaving his perch though) that some in the audience thought he was battery-powered, and turned on for the performance.

Having heard from my cousin Don today in a blog comment, I remembered a wry comment his Dad, my uncle Joe, once made in an effort to recall a particular parakeet their family had. He asked, "Iss sell da one us bissel aus shape gapressed is votta unich da shuckle shtool?" Is that the one that got pressed a little out of shape under the rocker? Oh my. We'll have to keep an eye on Magog whenever anyone's using the rocker during one of his forays.

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