Monday, July 28, 2014

Mid summer birds report

Bluejay practices it's songs overhead in the choke cherry tree 

This morning as I was getting my things ready to go out into the garden I heard a familiar sound on the porch roof. Garbled notes and squawks, all mixed up, I wondered what was making the noise. I went to the window as I heard the sound moving towards the roof's edge where I saw a blue jay swoop down into the garden and land on my chair. Then with camera, book and coffee in hand, I took my usual time in the garden to write and photograph the flowers and birds. The the choke cherry tree is beginning to drop it's ripe red-maroon berries that many birds flock to eat. It seems after a few years of watching that many young birds spend a lot of time dining in our tree.
They dart and dangle around a lot so it's hard to get a good photo of them. Today the blue jay came and perched on a low branch and started practicing it's songs. Lots of other noises in the garden this morning but I recorded a short video to share the blue jay's rehearsal. I learned yesterday that it takes about a year for a fledgeling bird to learn the adult songs but they practice and mimic the adults until they master the sounds.
ripening choke cherry 

Earlier this summer I saw a family of blue jays in my garden briefly. They occasionally  stop by for a few choke cherries, sometimes a bath or drink from the bird baths and then off they go to the huge Oak tree down the alley. Their cries are so distinctive it's easy to pick them out. Usually blue jay songs are very bold and memorable once you know the tunes. It's color is so spectacular making it a back yard favorite. Back in 2001, the West Nile Virus arrived in DC transmitted by mosquitos that infected birds blood, the large population of crows and bluejays was nearly wiped out. It's nice to see them making a come back.
Blue jay on the compost searching for food 

fledgeling blue jay in choke cherry tree 
A few days ago I discovered a family of Mourning doves out my bedroom window in the white cedar trees as I was rushing to leave for an art history lecture. There were three of them sitting on a limb so close I couldn't resist grabbing my camera and catching a few shots. The very next morning as I was going out to write with my coffee camera and book when I opened the door to the stairway down I got a shock. Nearly spilled all my coffee as there was a dove out there flapping against the window to try and get away. I quickly closed the door trying to collect myself and clean up the mess I made. I decided to skip going out for that day then watched to see if the bird figured out how to escape. It sat there on the railing looking out the window that doesn't open all day and I assume it had been there all night roosting. A second night and the next morning it was still there. It was clear after about 36 hours this mourning dove wasn't clever enough to realize or discover that going down the stair well would free it to go drink eat and live. I got worried it would die of dehydration or starve so it was time to muster some courage and go help it get out. Towel in hand I wet straight out and it flew to the lower corner of the big windows I finally got hold of some part and swung it over the rail and down the stairs where it quickly saw the light and escaped to the garden. My heart was beating fast but I am sure it wasn't as fast as the dove's little heart. I realized now that it was a fledgeling not quilt mature and a few of it's tail feathers came out in the struggle. I arranged them on the antique foot stool for a document of the incident. It wasn't possible to make images of this story on my own but I have the earlier images to help.

The dove survived as far as I can tell it is hiding now in the low shrubs along our fences. 
Meanwhile the house wrens are working hard showing off all the insects they catch as they come and go to feed the babies growing in the green A framed birdhouse. This image of the adult about to deliver a big bug is pretty exciting to have caught. They feed them all sorts of little creatures every minute or three bringing in a new delight from the garden to the waiting peeps.

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