"A Little Bird Watching"

        I have some lady friends who I call my "visiting teachers" that stopped by to see me. While we were talking, I looked out my window and saw an unusual sight. Unusual to me, and to them, because we had never seen it happen before. My hummingbird feeder, hanging from a tree, had a male Cassin’s Finch guzzling the sugar baby birdswater. On a branch above the feeder was a bird with mouth open, fluttering wings, and doing a balancing act to keep from falling. To me this was a sign of a young bird preparing to fledge that needed food. Here’s the unusual part . . . the adult male Finch ate as much as he could at the feeder and then went immediately to the flapping, balancing youth to share the sugar water with him. Was this a case of a father bird feeding his child liquid candy? In the past week, this behavior has happened several times at our humming bird feeder.

        Each year at hatching time we anticipate seeing young birds follow their parents around, begging to be fed. This manner of acting reminds me of teenage boys who never seem to get full, always wanting one more piece of pizza, no matter how much they’ve already eaten. With an appetite like this, it's no wonder baby birds grow so fast and leave home in just days. But before parent birds become "empty nesters" the young must learn skills to feed themselves and fly properly.

        Two days ago there were two adult Ravens with four "youngsters" sitting on our neighbor’s fence. The adult Ravens looked to be showing the kids how to find food in the vacant lot next door. The young birds were almost as big as their parents, had scraggly feathers, were very unsure of moving, flying, and getting around. Baby birds are all around us. Take time to do a little bird watching. And, keep a close eye on your hummingbird feeder . . . you might find more than what you expect having dinner at your house. There are so many things to be learned about our feathered friends. Birds will surprise you when you least expect it.

        Marilyn Davis is the artist this week. If you have questions about birds, baby birds, or upcoming Field Trips with Red Cliffs Audubon, call 435 673-0996.


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