Friday, June 19, 2009

And So It Goes

First, a little algae in a pond goes floating by,
And asks a little water flea what it’s like to fly.
The water flea knew little and never had he flew,
But he ate the little algae, that is how he grew.

A minnow happened through the weeds,
And spied the flea that grew.
He sucked him in a great big gulp,
He didn't even chew.

Before the flea could settle in
With others who’d been ate,
Along came fish of greater size,
Who sealed the minnow’s fate.

It was a happy, healthy fish,
Who ate the minnow whole.
He thought he ruled the universe,
Till nature took its toll.

Basking in the sun alone
Digesting his last meal,
An osprey glided overhead,
And gave that fish a feel.

It was a strange sensation,
As they raced into the sky.
But now that little algae knows,
What it’s like to fly.
— Dick E. Bird

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Blink of Life

Life is such a fleeting move
Limitless in bounds,
Yet strikingly it hastens
Without the slightest sound.
A drift in time is never more
Than what you have at hand,
So capture all its glory
You never know what’s planned.
The quickest move the mind can make
Is slow compared to death.
The hawk can take the sparrow
In the ebbing of a breath.
So live as though the hand of time
Could tap you any season,
Fear not the hawk that circles life
For respite there is reason.
—Dick E. Bird

Am I the Pell, Peel or Pie-leated Woodpecker?

It doesn’t matter what my name,

But who I’m going to be;

As long as I can have my pride,

And whack away at trees.

You can call me Woody,Pilly, Pie, or Pea;

Just put a bunch of suet out,

And that is where I’ll be.

--Dick E. Bird

Do birds communicate with one another?

It is quite obvious that birds communicate with each other, but a total understanding of their communication skills is far from complete. They communicate the same way we do by sound, movement, facial gesture and actions. Your spouse does not have to actually yell at you to communicate dissatisfaction. The eyes can tell a story, bared teeth, beet red skin condition, hair standing on end. If I were you I would get out there and fill the birdfeeder right now!
Birds have calls, they flush, they fight, they pound, they bob and weave, charge and retreat, dance and feign injury. Each species has its unique combinations of sound. The relation that varied species have to each other’s sounds is not clear, but I can tell you this, when a hawk speaks, songbirds at my feeder listen.

How does a bird learn to build a nest?

It is very simple actually. They learn the same way a spider learns to spin a web and a bee learns how to build a hive. It is a form of higher education called instinct. If species did not have instinct, they would be extinct. Most nests are so intricate, and birds have such short life spans, that if birds had to learn how to build they would be too old to reproduce before they had the knowledge to build a love nest. This is the ornithological theory known as "Too soon old—too late wise." The old saying, "You are what you eat," does not always apply to birds in appearance and behavior. For birds "You are if you haven’t been eaten." Nest building in varied species has evolved into a fine-tuned practice in a changing environment. Studies are showing that even the changes and new forced practices of nest building are being passed on in instinctive behavior. Birds have a building code so precisely and genetically monitored that there is no need for a building inspector.

Do birds dream?

All birds dream of a healthier environment. Ornithologists call this a "pipe-dream." Only part of the bird’s dream. Now you’re saying, "He just said all birds dream!" You are absolutely right. I did say that, but what I say and what I mean are two entirely different things. Birds sleep very lightly. Their bodies relax but their little bird brains keep right on ticking. The daily management part of the brain is often asleep. This is true for most management. The unconscious part of the mind (the part you take to work with you) continues to function. It conjures up visual images of things you and no birds could ever accomplish, and produces dreams. Many birds dream of eating cats, spraying pesticides in peoples’ refrigerators, making people eat off dirty tables, giant oil spills in bathtubs, and netting and banding unsuspecting humans to see just where it is they go in the winter.

Do birds help flowers communicate?

The jury is still out on this one. Even though there is no evidence that flowers respond to human communication, there are many who contend that plants respond to human communication. If that were true then they probably respond to bird communication also. It only makes sense. In the spring when the birds start singing—the flowers start growing. Hummingbirds will come along and whisper in the ear of a trumpet vine—and before you know it, they are spreading rumors all over the yard. There is no scientific confirmation that soothing music has a beneficial effect on plants, but again it only makes sense when we see the effect a little birdsong has on them. Happy birds mean happy flowers, and happy flowers produce abundant amounts of nectar. Flitting bees flirt with nectar-producing flowers then buzz back to the hive and manufacture honey. While all this is going on, there is a quiet little communication going on called pollination, and that makes more birds sing, more flowers grow and more bees busy. And honey—that’s no lie.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

His Infinite Push

The power of water,
The strength of the wind,
Mold the branches that structure the tree.

They give direction,
To masses of land,
And bend the drift of the sea.

So it seems so clear,
As I stand at the shore,
And wonder upon the vast ocean.

That certainly man,
Must understand,
The world’s in perpetual motion.
—Dick E. Bird

Stuff You Should Know About Birds

• If not for birds we would have millions of loose feathers all over the place!

• At one time magnets were placed on the heads of homing pigeons to see if it affected their homing instinct. Many birds did not make the return trip. It is not clear if the magnets had an affect on their orientation or not. (They’re probably all stuck to a water trough somewhere.) The test had varying results on birds young and old, experienced and inexperienced. Some pigeons thought they were romantically drawn to one another, only to find out later it was all in their heads.

’Tis the Season

It’s been another season
Of ads that make you think,
That all that politicians do
Is flush money down the sink.
I hear them on the TV
The radio and live.
The other guys a no good bum
And we are all deprived.
It’s wonderful the things they’ll do
Just give them all, your vote.
So they can join the gravy train
And shove more down your throat.
I guess I’d rather listen
To the birds out in my yard.
Then to hear another promise.
From another beltway bard.
And when it’s time to cast my vote
I’ve never been confused.
I consider rock and hardspot
But either way I lose.
—Dick E. Bird
When Adlai Stevenson was running against Dwight Eisenhower, someone rushed up after a speech to inform him he would have "the support of all thinking Americans."
Stevenson replied, "Not enough. I’m going to need a majority."

In a interview, Newt Gingrich called public television, "a little sandbox for the rich." I would like to ask him exactly what he thinks Congress is!
President Clinton, summing up his first 100 days in office: "I’m not doing so bad. At this point in his administration, William Henry Harrison had been dead for 68 days."

Just What Is It
That Bird Watchers Do?
Many people just smile to themselves when they see a bird-watcher scoping out a tree, bush or field. But at the same time they are wondering what makes a birder tick. What is the lure to chase birds? Bird-watchers don’t take them home and hang carcasses on the wall, they don’t fill their freezers with a winter’s worth of young fryers. Most of them don’t even take pictures.

What’s the deal?
Why would these people drag themselves out of bed at dark-thirty in the morning, go out in weather that would turn back a mailman, and slosh through wet vegetation to spot a bird you could easily see on a National Geographic tape in the comfort of your home with a bowl of popcorn?

I don’t get it.
What’s the big mystery? Birds are one of nature’s most beautiful varieties of color, sound and movement. People who enjoy watching birds receive the same heart-lifting feeling that can be aroused by music and art. Birds set it in motion, and it comes, filtered through nature’s settings garnished with wind, fragrance, color, and the endless abstract collage that has no beginning and no end in a circle of life that for many is defined by this diverse collection of feathered creatures.
Bird-watching is really no different from fishing or hunting except that you can do it in more places for a whole lot less money, and it is easier to lie about what you saw because you don’t have to come back with any evidence!

Monday, September 8, 2008

True Zit

My wife she made some candy,
And, boy, did it smell good.
She mixed it with the sweetest sweets,
And all the nuts she could.
She used the finest caramel,
Coconut, and fudge.
And cooled it on the patio,
I could hardly wait to judge.
But when we went to check it,
All we found were crumbs and bits.
And soon we found the culprits,
All our squirrelly friends had zits. —DICK E. BIRD

Things You Notice While Bird Feeding
Give a bird a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a bird to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.
A recent story about the man and his boys who watched a heron using bait to fish is not farfetched at all. It is actually just one of many examples of birds and tool use. Herons have been observed throwing more than bugs in the water to attract fish. Juveniles will throw twigs in with little success, but as they mature they improve their casting tech- nique and find it works quite often. Tool use is not limited to fishing. One ornithologist observed a crow using a drain plug to stop up a pipe and make himself a birdbath. Taking advantage of this situation, the ornithologist moved the plug around and made the crow look for it. The bird created the bath mainly on hot, dry days.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Hot Tongue, Cold Shoulder

I only asked for fifty pounds,
Of bird mix in a bag.
And now I’ve bought a feeder too,
Me wife, she’s gonna nag.
And then before I hit the door,
The feed man says, "Look here."
And now I got a birdbath heater,
Me wife, she’s gonna sneer.
I almost make it to me truck,
When I hear the cashier yell,
"One minute, sir. Our special’s on,
You need a birdseed bell."
So me, I goes back in again,
And gets a bell of seed.
I know when I get home with these,
Me wife, she will be teed.
But since I’m in such awful straights,
I might just get ’er all.
So I buy enough sunflower,
To last me through the fall.
Me wife’s a lovely woman,
And I don’t like getting her sore.
So I hide what I can, hang out what I must,
Then throw me hat in the door.
If it don’t come back, I’m pretty safe,
And I ease in real light.
But if she’s mad then be it so,
Me birds are worth a fight.
—Dick E. Bird

"Do Migrating Birds Get Jet Lag?"
No, birds don’t seem to suffer from jet lag. But then again they don’t suffer from airport delays, crowded seating, inedible airline food, or lost luggage either.

Human jet lag seems to be bound inextricably to passing rapidly through time zones. Birds usually migrate from north to south, often not encountering any change. Veterinarian Robert B. Altman speculates that if you put a bird on an airplane going east to west, it might feel jet lag.
But birds, unlike humans, don’t try to fly from New York to Australia in one day. Some migrations can take weeks. Birds don’t stretch their physical limits unless they have to (such as flying over a large body of water),. If they are tired, birds stop flying and sleep.

Humans are particularly susceptible to jet lag when they travel at night. As a rule, migration doesn’t upset birds’ natural sleeping patterns.

Of course, migration isn’t without some perils of its own. Some birds travel 10,000-plus miles during migration. Once birds arrive at their destination they often engage in a feeding frenzy. Birds will often double their weight in a couple of weeks as they get back into the routine of foraging constantly. Storing body fat before a long migration helps birds fuel their journey.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Seasons of the Day

Seasons of the Day
Every day begins a new season with dawn.
A subtle cycle unlike the explosion of spring,
Unlike the silence of fall. A collection,
Of tides and change, color and contrast.
Inherited habit, and raging senses.
Fields provide, marshes produce,
Woodlands gather sun and distribute shade.
Nothing moves that does not flow,
The new like the old, the fit precise.
Delicate but sturdy, intricate with ease.
Nature’s marching arm in arm with time.
—Dick E. Bird
Things You Should Know When Feeding Birds
Do the whiskers on a cat help it catch your songbirds?
Yes, but trimming its whiskers will not cure its bird munching. Its whiskers are feelers that enable it to concentrate on the target and not crash into anything. The best thing you can do for your birds is to keep your cat’s whiskers in the house with the rest of its body!