mersenneforum.org  

Go Back   mersenneforum.org > Fun Stuff > Lounge

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old 2018-12-15, 18:36   #1
Dr Sardonicus
 
Dr Sardonicus's Avatar
 
Feb 2017
Nowhere

65768 Posts
Default Oμr fiɳe feathəred friends

I wish to create a thread devoted to observations, anecdotes and stories about birds. I'm not looking for mythology, folklore, or "bird jokes" here. If someone has a passion for these, perhaps sub-threads could be created.

Here is an example.

Once upon a time, long long ago, I lived in an apartment complex with rudimentary car ports -- posts with corrugated metal panels along the top half of three sides, and a slant of corrugated metal on top for a roof of sorts. And in some of the car ports, where the back panel met the roof on the inside, barn swallows had taken up residence.

Barn swallows are great all-around fliers. They feed mainly on insects, which their flying ability lets them catch on the wing. And they defend their nests against anything they see as a threat. They often do this by "tag-teaming" the encroaching trespasser. I witnessed an occurrence of this behavior which made a lasting impression on me -- as well, I am sure, as it did on the hapless trespasser.

One fine morning, as I strolled through the parking lot, I saw two barn swallows zooming low near a dumpster from different directions, coming almost to the ground. And on the ground, where their flight paths had converged, was a cat.

I have never, before or since, seen a cat in such a state. Cats are well-known for being able to escape just about any predicament, but this cat literally did not know which way to turn! It was banjo-eyed, panic-stricken, and wildly looking in all directions. And then, the barn swallows attacked again. One flew straight at its face. The cat clawed at the attacker. But while cats are very quick, the barn swallow was quicker. It easily avoided the cat's claws. Meanwhile, a second barn swallow attacked from the rear, giving the cat a peck near its tail. The cat wheeled around, but, fast as it was, it wasn't anywhere near fast enough. I left. When I returned later, the cat was gone. Apparently the barn swallows had eventually relented. But I'm sure that the cat had been taught a lesson it was not going to forget any time soon.

Last fiddled with by kladner on 2020-04-09 at 20:53
Dr Sardonicus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 2018-12-21, 00:14   #2
Dr Sardonicus
 
Dr Sardonicus's Avatar
 
Feb 2017
Nowhere

345410 Posts
Default Counting birds is murder...

Some of the people who keep track of birds engage in "bird counts." In a recent one (the Sunday December 16 Queens County NY Christmas Bird Count), a participating "nature lover" in Bayswater Point State Park found something unexpected:

Death of man found in Queens park ruled a homicide
Dr Sardonicus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 2019-03-13, 11:58   #3
Dr Sardonicus
 
Dr Sardonicus's Avatar
 
Feb 2017
Nowhere

2·11·157 Posts
Default

For the past week or so, I have heard birds singing as I haven't heard them sing in months. They have been singing as the night sky starts becoming noticeably less dark, around half an hour to 20 minutes before sunrise. This type of singing is known as the "dawn chorus." Its yearly return is a sure sign of Spring.
Dr Sardonicus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 2019-03-13, 13:02   #4
tServo
 
tServo's Avatar
 
"Marv"
May 2009
near the Tannhäuser Gate

7·73 Posts
Default Chimney swifts

In the lot just to my south is an old ( 50-80 year ) grade school that has been chopped up into apartments and condos. It's a fairly huge brick structure with several chimneys reaching toward the sky, now rendered obsolete by the installation of modern, efficient heating units.
Also, the top floor, which probably was a storage attic of sorts, is completely abandoned now and has these slats of wood covering the former windows. The chimneys provide nesting sites for the birds; he slatted windows for bats.
Every Spring, a good sized extended family ( say 20-30 ) of chimney swifts arrive and take up residence in the described upper reaches of the grade school. Every Autumn, when the days get short, they leave for their southern vacation. I judge the seasons by them.

They are fascinating to watch flying as they are surely some of the fastest birds I have ever seen. Also, they can change direction on a dime. I see them mainly at dusk when the hoards of night loving insects come out. Their shape, the results of untold millenia of evolution, reminds me of the swept wings of the me-262 or its descendants, the mig-15 and f-86.
The dusk sky is filled with their zooming about as they feed, chirping excitedly.
Thanks to the swifts for keeping the dreaded insect hoard ( which seems to get worse every year ) down.

Last fiddled with by tServo on 2019-03-13 at 13:11
tServo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 2019-03-14, 13:28   #5
Dr Sardonicus
 
Dr Sardonicus's Avatar
 
Feb 2017
Nowhere

2·11·157 Posts
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by tServo View Post
<snip>
The chimneys provide nesting sites for the birds; he slatted windows for bats.
Every Spring, a good sized extended family ( say 20-30 ) of chimney swifts arrive and take up residence in the described upper reaches of the grade school. Every Autumn, when the days get short, they leave for their southern vacation. I judge the seasons by them.\
<snip>
Their shape, the results of untold millenia of evolution, reminds me of the swept wings of the me-262 or its descendants, the mig-15 and f-86.
The dusk sky is filled with their zooming about as they feed, chirping excitedly.
Thanks to the swifts for keeping the dreaded insect hoard ( which seems to get worse every year ) down.
Thanks for the posting! I've never seen them, but I have heard about them. It sounds like they fly about as well as barn swallows.

The question arises: Where did chimney swifts nest before there were chimneys? About the only natural locales I can think of are perhaps some caves, and hollow tree stumps. Perhaps the primeval forest in North America had enough hollow stumps of significant girth (and maybe height) to support a significant population of these birds.

But, it seems, their natural nesting sites have become rarer, or perhaps chimneys became so common the population grew in response. With the decline in chimneys (at least, the kind built of masonry), there will surely be fewer places for them to nest.
Dr Sardonicus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 2019-03-14, 19:44   #6
kladner
 
kladner's Avatar
 
"Kieren"
Jul 2011
In My Own Galaxy!

234078 Posts
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr Sardonicus View Post
I wish to create a thread devoted to observations, anecdotes and stories about birds. I'm not looking for mythology, folklore, or "bird jokes" here. If someone has a passion for these, perhaps sub-threads could be created.

Here is an example.

Once upon a time, long long ago, I lived in an apartment complex with rudimentary car ports -- posts with corrugated metal panels along the top half of three sides, and a slant of corrugated metal on top for a roof of sorts. And in some of the car ports, where the back panel met the roof on the inside, barn swallows had taken up residence.

Barn swallows are great all-around fliers. They feed mainly on insects, which their flying ability lets them catch on the wing. And they defend their nests against anything they see as a threat. They often do this by "tag-teaming" the encroaching trespasser. I witnessed an occurrence of this behavior which made a lasting impression on me -- as well, I am sure, as it did on the hapless trespasser.

One fine morning, as I strolled through the parking lot, I saw two barn swallows zooming low near a dumpster from different directions, coming almost to the ground. And on the ground, where their flight paths had converged, was a cat.

I have never, before or since, seen a cat in such a state. Cats are well-known for being able to escape just about any predicament, but this cat literally did not know which way to turn! It was banjo-eyed, panic-stricken, and wildly looking in all directions. And then, the barn swallows attacked again. One flew straight at its face. The cat clawed at the attacker. But while cats are very quick, the barn swallow was quicker. It easily avoided the cat's claws. Meanwhile, a second barn swallow attacked from the rear, giving the cat a peck near its tail. The cat wheeled around, but, fast as it was, it wasn't anywhere near fast enough. I left. When I returned later, the cat was gone. Apparently the barn swallows had eventually relented. But I'm sure that the cat had been taught a lesson it was not going to forget any time soon.
Mockingbirds are also highly aggressive chasers of all sorts of predators, terrestrial or airborne. Cats are prime targets, as are any birds that are remotely hawk-like. Mockingbirds aren't picky. I have seen one tormenting a turkey vulture.

On one of our trips to downstate Illinois, we heard a terrific cacophony of crows. As we watched, a hawk came flying hard through the tree tops. It was being pursued by a super-murder of crows.
kladner is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 2019-03-15, 12:28   #7
Dr Sardonicus
 
Dr Sardonicus's Avatar
 
Feb 2017
Nowhere

345410 Posts
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by kladner View Post
Mockingbirds are also highly aggressive chasers of all sorts of predators, terrestrial or airborne. Cats are prime targets, as are any birds that are remotely hawk-like. Mockingbirds aren't picky. I have seen one tormenting a turkey vulture.

On one of our trips to downstate Illinois, we heard a terrific cacophony of crows. As we watched, a hawk came flying hard through the tree tops. It was being pursued by a super-murder of crows.
One time, when I was walking to the grocery store, I saw a red-tailed hawk being chased off by a few crows. When I was walking back, I saw a crow being chased off by some smaller birds, I forget what kind.

I was struck by the following occurrence in the war with Mexico, as described in a PBS documentary:

In the summer of 1846, US troops were stationed at Ciudad Camargo, in absolutely abominable conditions. They died in great numbers, of dysentery and other diseases. The "dead march" was played so often that the mockingbirds began imitating it. The road on which reinforcements came to the encampment went by the cemetery. As a result, the incoming troops were greeted by mockingbirds singing the "dead march." It must have been a real morale-booster...
Dr Sardonicus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 2019-03-18, 03:02   #8
LaurV
Romulan Interpreter
 
LaurV's Avatar
 
Jun 2011
Thailand

100010000111102 Posts
Default

Bugs Life, anybody?
LaurV is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 2019-03-18, 10:57   #9
xilman
Bamboozled!
 
xilman's Avatar
 
"𒉺𒌌𒇷𒆷𒀭"
May 2003
Down not across

72·11·19 Posts
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by kladner View Post
On one of our trips to downstate Illinois, we heard a terrific cacophony of crows.
Essentially every evening we hear a terrific cacophony of corvids. Not technically crows but closely related. The choughs, or gracas they seem to call them in these parts, have started their nesting and mating season. Over the last month one pair has been taking first long twigs and then soft furnishings up into the crown of the dragon tree near the veranda. Last summer there were four birds up there, from which we deduced that they had raised two young.

It also seems that this pair is unusual as the species generally use cliffs, buildings, etc, rather than trees as nesting sites.

Last fiddled with by xilman on 2019-03-18 at 11:12 Reason: Add last sentence
xilman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 2019-03-18, 13:30   #10
Dr Sardonicus
 
Dr Sardonicus's Avatar
 
Feb 2017
Nowhere

2×11×157 Posts
Default

Speaking of corvids, I once saw a "discussion" between two family members -- a crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) and a blue jay (Cyanocitta cristata). The crow was sitting on top of a wooden "telephone pole" near a large spruce tree. The blue jay's nest was almost certainly in the spruce tree -- I'd seen it flying in and out of that tree many times.

The crow was placidly sitting on top of the pole. The blue jay was frantically flitting from one end of the cross-arm to the other, loudly calling a piercing "Jeer! Jeer! Jeer!" The crow just sat there, occasionally emitting a subdued "caw." And so it went. "Jeer! Jeer! Jeer!" "Jeer! Jeer! Jeer!" Caw. "Jeer! Jeer! Jeer!" "Jeer! Jeer! Jeer!" "Jeer! Jeer! Jeer!" "Jeer! Jeer! Jeer!" Caw.

It went on and on, and was still going on when I left.
Dr Sardonicus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 2019-03-18, 17:12   #11
Xyzzy
 
Xyzzy's Avatar
 
"Mike"
Aug 2002

11110000010002 Posts
Default

https://arstechnica.com/gaming/2019/...-takes-flight/
Xyzzy is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
To my friends davieddy Lounge 0 2010-01-21 23:25
Funny stuff & gripes about friends/relatives gd_barnes Conjectures 'R Us 27 2009-01-02 14:28

All times are UTC. The time now is 07:16.

Fri Sep 18 07:16:05 UTC 2020 up 8 days, 4:27, 0 users, load averages: 1.23, 1.42, 1.44

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

This forum has received and complied with 0 (zero) government requests for information.

Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation.
A copy of the license is included in the FAQ.