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Archive for June, 2013

Bird Nesta

Most song birds gather hundreds of twigs, leaves, moss, and other materials to build their nest. I always find it amazing how they can construct a nest despite not having hands and fingers. They use the nest solely for laying eggs and raising their young. Once the kids mature and leave home, the nest is abandoned and not used again. Even if the parents nest again later in the season, they build a new nest.

Eagles, on the other hand, reuse the same nest for years. Each year they renovate a little adding more twigs and branches. As a result the nest gets a little larger every year. A typical Bald Eagle nest may be 4-5 feet in diameter and 6-8 deep. One nest was measure as over 9 feet wide and 20 feet deep weighing over 2 tons.

For some birds such as the Sociable Weaver of SW Africa, the nest stays in the family for generations and is reused annually. The nest structure, which gets larger and larger, is re-used for years until the tree can no longer support the weight of the nest. Some nests are reported to be over a century old.

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Door knockers knock on a door. A woodpecker pecks on wood. An oxpecker (you guessed it) knocks on oxen. They don’t actually knock on an ox, they hitch a ride, hopping all over the ox (and other large mammals in southwestern Africa) grabbing ticks and insects. It is not uncommon to see oxen with oxpeckers crawling all over them.Oxpecker and Buffalo
Their preferred food in reality is ox blood. They eat the insects they find on the ox but are really going after the ticks that have just gorged on blood from the ox.

Oxpeckers are also known for pecking on open wounds of mammals to get their blood directly. In effect they use oxen and other large mammals as walking bird feeders

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Mockingbirds have a reputation as endless singers, sometimes singing for hours, starting just after midnight and continuing until dawn. They sing or “mock” the songs of other birds, usually repeating the song of one species 3 times. Then they switch to another species and sing that song 3 times. They may have a repertory of dozens of different species.

Whip-poor-wills also sing for long periods, usually at dusk. A Whip-poor-will sings its own call which sounds like a rapid rendition of its own name “whippoorwill, whippoorwill”. It repeats the call over and over. The famous naturalist John Boroughs once counted 1,088 consecutive calls. Other ornithologists have confirmed over a 1,000 calls in a row.

Counting that many bird calls must be boring.

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I certainly do not know when the next full moon is scheduled.

But the Mexican subspecies of the Whip-poor-will knows. A Whip-poor-will is a night flying, insect eating bird that catches insects in the flight. You might think of them as nocturnal swallows, zipping around chasing flying bugs, often at dusk or dawn.

You might expect that Whip-poor-wills catch more insects when there is a lot of moonlight. That is not surprising. But what is amazing, is that Whip-poor-wills seems to know when the full moon will occur. It lays 2 cream color eggs with splotches about 20 days before the full moon. Eggg take about 16-17 days to hatch which means that when the young are emerging from the egg, the amount of moonlight will at its peak . The parents have plenty of light to see and catch insects for the youngsters. Neat.

But how do they know when the full moon is scheduled?

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He’s Back

Hello again. I’m back

Frequent visitors to this blog site will have noticed that I have not posted anything new for quite a while. The reason is simple. One morning a few weeks ago as I was bringing in the empty garbage cans from the curb, I collapsed in my driveway. Bam. Ended up in the emergency room. They enjoyed my company so much, they asked me to stay for a few more days. And they showed me all their new high tech medical devices and let me takes lots of tests. The conclusion was that I had had two blood clots in my lungs and wasn’t able to get any oxygen.

I always been blessed with good health. This was the first time I have been in the hospital since I was 12 years old. My doctor says my health is still good except for the blot clots. Now I am seeing specialists and undergoing more tests to determine what caused the clots and how to prevent them from occurring again.

In the meantime, I’m back and will soon be posting new and interesting stuff about birds

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