I’ve shared many bird behavior observations over the last several months. Given my tendency toward anthropomorphizing pets, birds, and other animals, and the increased bird activity with the rising temperatures, it seems fitting to let my dear readers know what they are saying to each other. And let me tell you, they have a lot to say.
I’m able to take in a good deal of avian activity from the window of my study or the deck behind my house. There is one Bustling Bird World out there, folks. Allow me to suggest what I think our feathered friends are communicating about food sources, securing food, the role of power in securing resources, bird relationships, and Those Humans.
Probable dialogue for the above pair: “Are you sure, honey? ‘Cuz I feel like my butt got bigger during the Polar Vortex.”
“How many times can I keep saying this, dear? I love you just the way you are, and besides, you’ve always known I like a little junk in the trunk.”
“Awww … you are so sweet! I love you!”
Likely exchange for the opponents in this photograph: “Take a hike, dude. That’s my corner. I called it yesterday.”
“You can’t call a side! This is an open feeder! It’s for everyone! The Humans who set it up wanted it that way! They’re liberal Democrats!”
“Get over yourself, Mr. Free-to-be-You-and-Me. That’s my corner and I’m takin’ in back. Scram.”
“I’m tellin’ on you! I’m gonna go call the Humans right now!”
I often observe birds navigate the branches of the bushes that line our tiny back yard, and this is quite likely what they are saying/thinking:
“OK, this branch looks good. Let’s go there. OK. Now that other branch looks good. Let’s go there. Hmmm. Not what I thought it would be. Let’s hop up a couple inches to that other branch. Yeah … well, no, not really feelin’ this one. OK. Let’s go for that low one down there. OK. No. Not OK. Ummm … I just can’t decide … ”
Here’s the dialogue for the above pair: Female: ” I’ve been calling to you for twenty minutes. My throat is sore. Where have you been?”
“Sorry. I got delayed when Manny wanted to show me his new crib. I couldn’t say no. He’s my best friend.”
“That’s no excuse for being late. Our evolutionary heritage requires you to fly directly to my side when I call you!”
“But … but there are exceptions to all evolutionary argu-”
“Stop it! Stop it right now! I am so angry with you!”
Given the interesting set-up of my house and community location, I have the distinct advantage of observing bird behavior on telephone wires. This is the presumptive inner monologue of a bird on the wire:
“OK, woah! This is a bouncy wire! Woah! I need a sec’ here to get my balance. OK. I’m good. I’m good. Take a deep breath. OK. Hey, let’s try that other wire right up there. Woah! Even bouncier! These wires are like the most swingy wires I’ve ever landed on. What’s the deal? I’m no Flying Wallenda, dude! What gives, here? Let’s try that other wire. Looks a little more stable from here, at least. Whew! OK. Well, it’s alright. Still strong on the swing-factor. I’m getting nauseous. Time to go for the ground and some tranquility.”
West Niles Virus decimated the crow population in our neighborhood several years ago, resulting in hushed summer months. But they came back strong last year, and have been alive and well this spring. They fearlessly cackle, fighting for territory and food resources. They actually go straight after hawks or falcons who unwittingly invade their territory, swooping at them and dive-bombing them high in the branches of the cottonwood trees above our roof. This is their message, I am totally sure: “Hey, you, get outta our tree! This is our joint! Now hawks allowed! You think you’re tough? Yeah! We’re talkin’ to you! That’s right! Fly, hawk fly! You’re outta here, Mr. Hawk Man! Scram! Yeah! Who’s the predator, now, baby, huh? ! That’s right! You are so gone!”
The above scene depicts what happens to the kind crow who has made the inadvisable suggestion that the hawk has a right to make a home in the same vicinity as the crows. “What!!!? What are you talking about?? Whose side are you on, anyway? ? We don’t understand you. Perhaps we never really knew you. You’ve never really been with us, have you? Maybe you should go hang out with that Hawk Guy, huh? HUH?”
Conflict is an inevitable part of human life, and certainly a given in the animal world. This chickadee and warbler are in a mid-air altercation. Here’s the reliable exchange: “Get off me! I’ll break you in half!”
“Oh yeah?!? You couldn’t chomp your way through my barf!”
“Oh yeah? You couldn’t fly your way through a hula hoop!”
“No, you shut up!”
“No, you shut up!”
Things aren’t totally disharmonious, though. This couple has obviously found a way to resolve their conflicts. He apologized and she forgave him. And his bottom will be on time tomorrow, that’s for sure.
And here we have again, the soft and gentle mourning doves, waddling their way through life, just trying to matter, and keep things connected and harmonious. Check out their dialogue: “You know, I just want everything to be OK, and for all of us to get along. I mean, I hate fighting for the seeds, and I can’t stand conflict, so I just step back and wait for the wrens and the cardinals and the black birds to do their thing, and when they’re gone, that’s when I go for what’s left. ”
“I know what you mean. I’m not in any rush. So … you wanna order a pizza?”
So that ‘s what happening in my back yard. What’s going on in your neck of the woods?