Cedar Waxwings Flummoxed By Snowvid Armageddon

Bird dynamics have been FUBAR during this frozen apocalypse. They appear to be much more sociable than in days of yore, flocking together and flying from icicle tree to icicle tree, wondering what in the name of the holy mother is going on. I know they are cedar waxwings because their little wingtips appear to have been dipped in red and yellow paint, and they wear that black mask which conveys a sense of outrage at Nature’s recent shenanigans. Here in central Texas, the old quote of “water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink” keeps popping up, as we continue yet more days sans water. Yup, it’s snowing, but we can’t drink that, although we’ve melted 14 gallons of it so far to use to flush toilets. Last week, we filled up some Arizona tea jugs with tap water, so we still have that. I suppose the birds can lick the icicles?

I braved my death by stepping onto our icy front porch to toss them handfuls of hemp seeds and pumpkin seeds out of an abundance of my own grace and mercy upon them. They flew away. Perhaps that’s why we call them bird brains.

Mourning Doves Are Loud As All Get-Out

This morning, before church and before coffee, I caught not one, but FOUR doves in our cottonwood tree.

I wonder what this guy did to deserve such isolation. Perhaps he was in quarantine for the ‘rona, or bird flu.

The others gossiped about his lack of hygiene.

Then this little guy showed up (upper right hand corner), and though his breast looks yellow here, he looked lime green to the naked eye. Not sure what kind of bird he is, but he belted out a chirpy song, unlike the coo of the doves.

And just like that, they flew away.

When You Appreciate The Majesty Of Nature But Also You’re Super Hungry

Bolatbek, Eagle Hunter, Mongolia, 2017 by Oliver Klink

Okay, yes, that Mongolian is an eagle hunter. But he’s not eating the eagle; he’s using it to hunt. Deer hunters hunt and eat deer, but eagle hunters use the eagle prowess in a self-serving manner and consequently keep the eagle alive. They train the eagles to catch small animals such as foxes and hares, whose furry coats eagles can easily spot in the snow. Then the trainer eats them. You see? It’s all about the hierarchy of which animals we like. Is it okay to kill tuna to eat sandwiches? Absolutely. Is it okay if we accidentally kill a dolphin while we’re in the middle of murdering tuna? No way, Jose. It’s about which animals matter.


Obviously, in America, eagles are emblematic of our country. We do not train them, and instead use hawks in falconry. We do not touch them, or their nests, or their eggs, as this is prohibited in the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Though the bald eagle was removed from the endangered species list in 2007, we continue to protect them as the symbol of our country. And we are certainly not alone in loving eagles. Mexico has a golden eagle on its flag, with a serpent in its talons, mid-murder. If that’s not badass, I don’t know what is.

Anley flag

And lest you think the mere association with eagles is not powerful, remember that The Eagles hold both the #1 and #3 spots of best-selling albums of all time (per http://www.mentalfloss.com). And that’s why we don’t stab eagles with steely knives.


Black Hawk Down, Part II

Today we’re going to learn about the ostrich, the world’s largest bird. Just because it’s large and flightless, doesn’t mean you should strap a saddle on it and ride it. Case in point.

the link is broken so whatever
the link is broken so whatever

Look at me, all Hal Linden today, hosting my own Animals, Animals, Animals episode. Woot! Barney Miller up in here, bringing the facts! Okay, calm down, Kerbey. Too much dark roast.

According to www.onekind.org, ostriches are the fastest runners of any birds or other two-legged animal and can sprint at over 70 km/hr, covering up to 5m in a single stride. I don’t know what that is because I live in America, where a meter is something you put coins in to park your car while you go the chiropractor’s office. Actually, 5m is a little over 16 feet. So, basically Shaq times two, give or take an inch. But anyway, that’s super fast, right? Take that, Kenya!

This almost makes sense now.


If you read the writing a the bottom of this postcard, you can see it says “trained ostrich.” Trained? That seems a heady task, considering an ostrich’s brain is smaller than its eye and would hardly fill a teaspoon. Good luck with that. 

Per www.southafrica.net, the Roman Emperor Heliogabalus once had the brains of 600 ostriches served up at a feast during his reign 2,000 years ago. Nasty. Although, you know it was free-range and antibiotic free, so props to HeliogabalusHey, Dave this sounds like one for The Blog of Funny Names

Now, listen, around here (since it’s spring), the birds have been chirping up a storm, building nests in my roof and chimney and even the exhaust where our dryer air shoots out. And they are chirping like NOBODY’S BUSINESS, aggressively. Like I could not take a nap to save my life because they are all CHIRP CHIRP CHIRP!!! CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW?? Who knew birds were such attention whores? But this is nothing compared to the male ostrich in mating season. He can roar like a lion.

But don’t go near one. If he has red shins, he’s at his most aggressive. Make your own joke up there. And the mating dance is something to behold. This guy starts out with jazzhands/jazzfeathers and then drops down and begins writhing about endlessly. 

One swift forward kick can kill a lion. They are Lethal Rockettes, if you will. And in territorial fights between males, they can cause death by slamming their heads into opponents. This is so fight club.

More fun facts from onekind (and their odd British way of spelling) reveal that dinner and dancing precede the brown chicken, brown cow:

  • Ostriches perform a complex mating ritual consisting of the cock alternating wing beats until he attracts a mate, when they will go to the mating area and he will drive away all intruders. They graze until their behaviour is synchronized, then…the cock will excitedly flap alternate wings again, and start poking on the ground with his bill and violently flap his wings to symbolically clear out a nest in the dirt. Then, while the hen runs circle around him with lowered wings, he will wind his head in a spiral motion. She will drop to the ground and he will mount for copulation.

If mating is successful, then co-parenting is in order:

  • The eggs are incubated by the dominant female by day and by the male by night, using the colouration of the two sexes to escape detection of the nest, as the drab female blends in with the sand, while the black male is nearly undetectable in the dark.

Pretty smart for a stupid bird. In fact, an ostrich could be far more valuable than you thought. Although its eggs are good eats (I’ve had one!), every adult ostrich has around a kilogram or more of stones in its crop. Sometimes these stones have been found to be diamonds.!! Yeah, huh, it’s true. The aptly-named www.fascinatingearth.com says so:

About a century ago a hunter shot a wild ostrich. In preparing it for the evening meal, he cut open the gizzard and found several pure gem—quality diamonds among the stony contents. He set out early the next morning to hunt diamond—bearing ostriches…Within a week…prospectors killed the defenseless birds by the thousands. Not all the victims contained diamonds, but some were fantastically rich; in one bird’s gizzard 63 diamonds were found.