Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Dive bombing swallows and other weird bird behavior

Aggressive barn swallows: The other day, Sunny, Josh's half-time German Shepherd, was yelping and leaping in the yard. She was being attacked by barn swallows. When Josh went out to investigate, they turned their tiny attentions to him. Now he can't leave the house without five of them heading right for his face. At least they sound like barn swallows: forked tail, very adept fliers, dark back and a  light breast. He hasn't seen their nests but I suspect one is near-by. Presumably when the babies are gone, they won't be so protective. A brief internet search showed numerous hits of such behavior (seehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=151G0LT8LhU)

Mama finch can't take motherhood and its demands one more second: So she throws her six babies out of the nest one by one well before they were ready to launch. Or maybe it was another bird who wanted the nest for itself. Shanna observed this at her mother-in-law's house. Lots of birds there with a pair of bluebirds nesting around the yard someplace and an oriole (the oriole must be making a comeback).

Wobbly Robin: Shortly before the trip, I came across an injured robin in my yard unable to fly. I assumed this was the handiwork of the Murderous Cat that slinks through my yard. It was shaking its head side to side frantically. My presence in my own yard brings a pack of half-breed wiener dogs from next door to the fence barking wildly (they just never learn) which I assumed was upsetting the dying robin even further. Several hours later, I expected to find a robin corpse there but no, the robin seemed to half recover and was hopping on my patio on the other side of the house. It still was swinging its head side-to-side rapidly. It clearly had a neurological problem. Lawn poisons? (I stopped using them but maybe from someone else's yard) West Nile virus? I did an internet search and came up with honeysuckle berry intoxication. I have several of these bushes partially shielding me from the wiener dogs and their algae-filled pool. Perhaps the robin could recover before the Murderous Cat makes another round.

Suicidal Female Cardinal: Our yard has 2 pairs of these beautiful birds. Also right before I left, a female cardinal kept flying up to the window acting like she was trying to get me on the other side at my computer. Sadly this window is dirty so she just wasn't attacking her reflection which some male birds do. I was puzzled. I haven't seen her since I returned.

When Josh first told me he was being attacked by birds, I assumed it was by a red wing blackbird. I have been attacked by them in the past (like the Dexter Crow who dive bombed nearby bicyclists for a summer). He isn't very good at bird identification but said they were too small to be blackbirds nor were they all black. They also had a forked tail and could fly way better than a blackbird. Plus blackbirds don't work together. I remember that a picnic shelter at this UM family camp was just full of barn swallows. They are very cute with dark blue bodies and a reddish breast and a black mask. He had a fuzzy photo of one on his roof waiting to attack.They would fly right by our heads to return to the nests in the rafters, not afraid of humans. They did not attack but perhaps it was beyond breeding season then. They eat bugs so he should welcome them. Suffice it to say, he is not welcoming. I am surprised that they would so quickly turn a brand new house into barn swallow central.

I finally got many of my flowers in the other day so I can turn off my inner nag. A very late start but the flowers were now very inexpensive: $2.50 for a flat of impatiens (hopefully not full of impatiens virus but they looked very healthy). I bought one flat for Shanna, put one flat out in my front yard and used the other two to make 4 bags of hanging impatiens and 2 baskets plus a few more thrown into my container gardens.

I still haven't put away my camping equipment. It was hard to find a full day of sunshine to dry things out. And most of it will be put to use again in less than 2 weeks.

And in less than a week, baby boy will be married (again)!


Holly said...

My goodness - your life is VERY full!

Teri Bernstein said...

Congrats to the mother of the groom!


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