Monday, July 20, 2009

Encounters of a Bird Kind

I was recently organizing a few of my 15,641 pictures when I noticed that over the past few weeks I had taken quite a few bird pictures. Upon further reflection I realized I had enough material for my own version of an Audubon handbook. I should add my disclaimer here and let you know that I am not a bird expert and some of this information about birds might be incorrect. Do not use any of this info to write a bird report. Now on with this story.

I took this picture when I was in Florida. I ran recklessly into the middle of the road to capture this shot. I was convinced it was a Bald Eagle and was screeching while taking the shot to try and attract this bird to land close by.
My screeching was successful and the bald eagle landed! Although it wasn't a bald eagle. It turns out that this actually was a turkey vulture which really are ugly and large. This particular bird had a wicked attitude and tried to scare me. I informed him that it takes more than some ugly bird to scare me.
So...maybe I was a bit scared. I scurried away quickly after snapping this final shot of Mr. Mean Turkey Vulture although I must admit I do like the color of his feathers but I wouldn't tell him that.

This is the graceful Great Blue Heron that hangs out by the pond near my mom's house in the Sunshine state. He has a calm personality and a much more positive attitude than mean Mr. Turkey Vulture.

He is searching for some dinner. I love the way he can move his neck.

Success! You can see the tail of a small fish sticking out of his bill.

Now some might find the following story disturbing so I am warning you ahead of time. Sometimes nature can be harsh. One day when changing sheets in our guest bedroom I looked out of the window to see that we had a new tenant living in our roof gables. A mother robin had built a nest and was hanging out waiting for the birth of her babies. I was quite excited and each day would sit and watch her as she flew around fixing her nest. Most of the time she just sat and kept her eggs warm. I paced anxiously, waiting for their arrival.

And then on the morning of June 1, 2009 Mama Robin's babies hatched and she began the task of feeding her newborns. I couldn't see them yet but I knew they were in there and was a proud Auntie. Mama Robin was a hard worker, tireless, as she fed, protected and continued to keep them warm.

So imagine my surprise, confusion and dismay when one morning I went to visit the Robin family and instead I found this sitting in the middle of their nest...

a Mourning Dove! What the heck! I yelled to my husband that we had an emergency situation -pronto! He ran up the stairs three at a time since I was distraught, crying and screaming. Totally breathless he asked me what was wrong ~ all I could do was point out at the nest.

We didn't know what to do. Twice I saw the Mama Robin dive bomb the nest but Papa Mourning Dove appeared out of nowhere and chased her off. I don't know where the robin babies are or if there are now baby doves living in the nest. We did consider getting a large pole to boot the intruder off of the nest but we did not do that. We figured that this is nature and we had better not mess around with it. I was sad though and all hopes of getting pictures of the baby robins for the family album vanished. I think this Mourning Dove has beady little eyes and I do not trust her.

And like many of the tenants who have rented from us over the years, this one was no different. I went to check on their nest one morning to find that they had skipped out in the cover of darkness without cleaning up their place and of course, with no rent paid. The worse part is that I will never know why this happened or what happened to the babies.

Emotionally exhausted from the robin/mourning dove drama I decided to focus more on my plants. I have these beautiful cascading 'somethings' hanging from planters on my front porch. And yes, I know they must have an official name besides 'somethings' but there was no identifying tag in them when I bought them so I asked the clerk what they were and she said, "they are cascading somethings." Honest. So...I was standing on a chair so I could reach my 'somethings' and I noticed straw sticking out of the top of the planter. I screamed to my husband who once again came running to see what was the matter this time.

He lifted the planter off of the hook so I could see if there was something inside of my somethings. And sure enough...

A Mama Robin decided that none of the thousands of trees on our property would be a good place to make a nest. Nope. Let's make the nest in the middle of the hanging somethings. Let's start a family right here.

I refuse to get emotionally attached this time. I swear. I am not going to get involved in any drama. But I do wonder why there is only one egg. I wonder if I can water my plant. I wonder how many more days until we have a baby bird chirping away. I wonder if I will be able to get an award winning photo. I wonder where the Mourning Dove is living now. I wonder...


Brian Miller said...

ha. thanks for taking us on this emotional journey. will be in Florida later this week so I'll tall your turkey vulture hello, and maybe your admiration of his wings. we all need encouragement right? sure your little family is flying to new heights, and just in time as you seem to have new babies on the the blueness of the egg.

Kim Mailhot said...

Love your bird stories, Deb, even the sad ones.
Happy Monday !

pink dogwood said...

you sure know how to get your readers laughing out loud. It is not a good idea to read your posts at work and make my coworkers wonder why I look so happy on a Monday morning.

I had a similar nest on my wreath on my front door. we locked the door for several weeks and only use the garage entrance in order to not disturb them. We did hear babies but couldn't take any pictures.

Best wishes.

Daryl said...

What fabulous photos.. having been away at a blogfest which ironically had no wireless connectivity .. I have a lot to catch up on .. xo

Akelamalu said...

Oh what a shame squatters moved in whilst Mama Robin was away looking for food! :(

I hope you have more luck with the new nest even if there is only one egg. :)

Marg said...

I loved your descriptive story...
I know what you mean about those Robins nest. I just watch some sparrow hatch. Walked everyday for almost a week, and then one day, they were gone....My heart fluttered.

But what you saw was not fair. I would of been very upset. Let nature take care of them naturally, and I hope you have the same excitement for that next little egg to hatch.
Enjoy the journey...we don't know what lessons it will teach us, if not today, maybe for tomorrow.

Beverly said...

Deb, this was truly an award winning bird documentary.

And, it was a bit of a comedy, too. You had me laughing.

R.J. said...

Great story! I made the mistake of getting involved once and found myself chasing blue jays because they had stolen the nestlings from the nest and were eating them. I was upset about that one, so I try not to look any more and let the food chain do whatever it does.

Cheffie-Mom said...

Wonderful post and photos. Your blog is such a JOY!

PEA said...

You and I are so much alike when it comes to birds and nature! lol I always try to protect nests and baby birds and have gotten in quite some situations when trying to stop cats, other birds, etc from getting at them. One time comes to mind...we had a nest of 4 baby robins in our pine tree. The day came when they tried their hand at getting out of the nest. Mind you, they didn't really know how to fly yet. In comes the crows, swooping down at them and trying to get them. You should have seen me, curlers in my hair and all, running all over the street trying to save the little ones! lol I only managed to save one and was so upset I couldn't save the others. To this day I give crows dirty looks!!!!! I know it's all part of nature but nothing says we have to like it, right???? hehe Loved all your pictures and I agree with you, it is odd that the Mourning Dove would take over the Robin's nest like that when they were still in there! Will have to do some research as to why that happened. xoxo

Maggie May said...

What an emotional wreck I am through reading the robin tragedy. I would be upset to lose the robin family and the doves probably ate the babies. Hope the new nest has a more satisfactory aoucome.
Great pictures and an action packed story.
Hope things go well for Mrs Robin, who seems to be doing all the work. Where is Mr Robin?

2Shaye said...

OH MY GOODNESS. That actually was a bit emotional. I would have been a wreck seeing a dove in the nest--all along knowing it was a robin's next. I'd try not to get too attached, but it's just so hard not to. It's beautiful to watch nature!


Louise said...

Great post! Wonder is good.I have never seen a cascading something like that before.

I hope we get an update when some of your wonders are answered.

Margaret's Ramblings said...

who needs television when nature provides us with such beauty. Your photos are so professional.


SandyCarlson said...

I think the turkey vulture is the ultimate Ugly Guy Who Thinks He's Cool.

The heron is the artist we all admire.

The robin, our best friend.

Your photos are wonderful.

Dianne said...

oh my!! I love the heron
they're like the super models of the bird world only with soul

I hope you see a sexy daytime moon real soon
and definitely forget about the wires
often the lines and angles they create can be pretty

Sandi McBride said...

yeah, right, no emotional involvement for you! You really expect me to believe that??? Hopefully your babies made it to trees with no problems and the Robin just wanted to make sure that she got her deposit back before the complaining doves...they do whine, don't they?...made complaints about a dirty apartment building! And you're just lucky that the buzzard didn't fly overhead and puke on you as they are known to do to discourage "admirers" all the pictures but we have our own buzzards so couldn't get excited over him...glad you didn't become a meal for him out in the middle of the highway, tho!

Lori ann said...

Oh My GOSh!

i am sitting on the edge of my seat! can you call birds and blooms magazine and find out what to do?? oh, it's too late to ask my husband, he's sleeping already,but i bet he'd know.

Thank you deb for all the wonderful photos, i love the heron and you got great pics of the vultures feathers. i love the blue egg the best though. maybe you can get a closer picture, without disturbing mama bird of course!

what a great post ☺

bookbabie said...

We started getting turkey vultures every spring a few years ago in the commons behind us. They are very graceful when they fly but ugly birds when you see them up close. On the other hand Herons are just cool birds all the way around! One landed on the edge of our pool once, apparently he was looking to see if we stocked it with fish. He walked a few steps peering in then took off. They are so big its surprising to see them in your back yard. That's so weird about the doves. They don't eat eggs or baby birds but they do take up residence in abandoned nests, too lazy to build their own sometimes! Moving in to a nest being used was awfully rude though:(

MyMaracas said...

I had no idea that mourning doves would do that. I always thought of them a such peaceful, innocent birds, and here I find out they can be dastardly little villains. I'm sorry you had to go through the loss of the robin babies. Even though they're hunkered down in your planter now, it's nice that you have a hopeful new beginning.

I think what we see flying over lately must be turkey vultures, now that I've had a good look at yours. Uuuuugly.

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