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Fun Day, Bird Trivia
May 10, 2010

Can you tell that Karen is vacuuming?

Keet (Akita), like most dogs isn't fond of it one bit.

I hope all had an enjoyable week and all you moms had a wonderful special day.

We had Karen's mom over for much of the day.

I'm a pretty good cook if I do say so :-)

Last week I mentioned that temperatures begin to moderate (hopefully).

Boy was I wrong.

No matter, I still did some veggie planting and potted up some tomatoes and peppers last week.

(Hey, what are tarps for?)

This past week end gave us temperatures in the low 40's and scattered frost and freeze warnings.

Parts of upper Michigan had several inches snow over the weekend.

Robin nests are every where I look (I like that).

Have you ever seen a prettier egg than a robin's egg?

Most agree that it is the prettiest and even has a color named for it 'Robin Egg Blue'.

One day last week, I was coming back from a walk and photo opportunities when I was met by one of Kentwood's finest near the pond.

It seems a four year old girl from a block over had wondered off and one time was found near the pond.

For the next two hours I was part of a search party, looking around and in the pond and the back 40 just in case.

It seems the little girl had discovered a new neighbor with little kids.

Apparently she told the new neighbors her mom knew she was over there, but that wasn't the case.

It was nice to see a neighborhood come together like it did that day and this ended well for everyone.

Gardens continue to grow as colors explode.

The past week or so, the intoxicating smell of lilacs in bloom fill the air.

I know they are introduced species of plants, but you can't help but breathe deep when you get a whiff of lilac (Syringa).

As you can see below, Columbines (Aquilegia) are in bloom as I wait patiently for hummingbirds.

For me, Columbines are a good indicator plant.

I know the hummers are here, Karen's sister live miles away and saw one a couple of days ago.

Some robin babies have already left the nest and a picture will show a baby and Papa.

I wont win any photo contests, as the bird pictures are taken through windows, but I still like to share with you.

Even with unpredictable weather, May is still a very special month.

I will enjoy thew white crowned sparrows for another week or two before they head north to their breeding grounds.

It is to bad they must leave, they have such a cheerful and happy song.

Karen was coming home on the rainy Saturday and witnessed a crow snag a toad (one of our toads) from the wet street.

She came in hopping mad and wanted to do something about it.

"Sorry dear, it's all part of nature."

Wild Strawberries in bloom (photo below with positive thought).

In another few weeks, with timely rain, they will be feeding birds and a few small mammals.

I'm still waiting for my first Rose-breasted grosbeak.

Many of you commented on how you enjoyed some of the tidbits and information on hummingbirds.

Well, this week's letter is a bit lighter, yet informative as you get a few "did you know" and "bird trivia".

I needed this, as the past couple of weeks have been really hectic from a personal stand point.

Sit back and enjoy some bird trivia.

If you like it, I may do it again sometime soon and thank you for cutting me a break and thank you for passing on the word.

We all grow together.

Hopefully you get this letter, my 'spam check' tells me there is something 'hot and nasty' on here.

I don't know what that could be.


Most people like a bit of trivia, no Q & A here, simply a few fun or interesting things on some birds we know and love and some we eat.

There are 9,567 known different bird species alive today. About 2 species a year sre still being discovered.

Isn't that cool?

A vulture once collided with a jetliner over West Africa.

The jet was flying at an altitude of 37,000 feet!

Vultures have the world’s slowest wing beat - 1 beat per second.

Hummingbirds, on the other hand, beat their wings up to 80 or 90 times per second and close to 200 times per second during a courtship dive.

It is believed that the goose was the first bird to be domesticated by man.

Although the swift can reach speeds of up to 170 mph, most experts agree that the world’s fastest bird is the peregrine falcon. It can fly at speeds in excess of 200 mph!

The world’s slowest flying bird is the American woodcock. At top speed it can move at 5 mph!

Studies show that most wild birds will die in their first year of life, on average only 25% make it to see their first birthday.

But if they can survive this first year then they stand a strong chance of living for some considerable time.

For instance, the American robin, can live up to 12 years and both the great blue heron and the Canada goose can live for more than 23 years, the blue jay for more than 18 years, and some blackbird species for 15-plus years.

Not only is the ostrich the only bird on the planet to have a urinary bladder and an eye that is bigger than its brain, it’s also the largest known flightless bird, weighing in at over 300 pounds and standing up to 8 feet tall.

It’s also pretty nimble on its feet, having been clocked at speeds in excess of 55 mph.

Now those would be some tough drum sticks.

The world’s smallest bird is the bee hummingbird. It weighs less than one-tenth of an ounce, is around 2 1/2 inches long and has a 4-inch wingspan.

On one occasion a group of starlings chose to take a rest on the minute hand of Big Ben.

As a result the famous timepiece became 5 minutes slow!

Mockingbirds can imitate about any sound imaginable, from a barking dog to squeaky hinges, to the notes from a piano to a cackling hen to even a cat meowing.

What’s more, their mimicry is so skilled that even electronic analysis would find it difficult to distinguish between the original sound and the impression.

The Arctic tern can live for more than 30 years, and during the breeding season its bill color will change from black to red.

Farmers dislike crows and ravens because of the damage they inflict upon their crops, but many people believe crows and ravens rank among the most intelligent of all birds and have a brainpower comparable to that of dolphins.

They are thought to be right up there with the African grey parrot that has a vocabulary of more than 800 words.

The most yolks ever found in a single chicken's egg is nine.

I've seen a few triple yolks, but nothing more than that.

The Royal Albatross' eggs take 79 days to hatch.

That is close to 3 months folks.

Precocial birds like chickens, ostriches, ducks, and seagulls hatch ready to move around. They come from eggs with bigger yolks than altricial birds like owls, woodpeckers, and most small songbirds that need a lot of care from parents in order to survive.

Air sacs may make up 1/5 of the body volume of a bird.

A bird's normal body temperature is usually 7-8 degrees hotter than a human's. Up to three-quarters of the air a bird breathes is used just for cooling down since they are unable to sweat.

The world's only wingless bird is the kiwi of New Zealand.

Pigeons can reach speeds up to 100 mph.

The only known poisonous bird in the world is the Hooded pitohui of Papua, New Guinea. The poison is found in its skin and feathers.

The American turkey vulture helps human engineers detect cracked or broken underground fuel pipes. The leaking fuel smells like vulture food (they eat carrion), and the clustered birds show repair people where the lines need fixing.

Cornish hens are actually young chickens, usually 5 to 6 weeks of age.

Owls can turn their heads almost all the way around, because they can't move their eyes. Their eyes aren't round like ours, but tubular shaped.

Hummingbird have the fewest feathers, around 940.

The Whistling swan has the most feathers with winter plumage on the swan numbering more than 25,000 feathers.

The average canary has about 2,200 feathers.

There are more chickens in the world than people.

Roosters can't crow if they can't fully extend their necks.

Chickens absorb vitamin-D through their combs from sunshine.

The average hen will lay 227 eggs a year.

A duck's quack doesn't echo, and no one knows why.

It takes forty minutes to hard boil an ostrich egg.

Kiwi birds are blind, they hunt by smell.

The top knot that quails have is called a hmuh.

Be careful what you say.

You've heard the saying, "Eat like a bird?" Many birds eat twice their weight a day.

Emus cannot walk backwards.

A bird requires more food in proportion to its size than a baby or a cat.

There are more Bald eagles in the province of British Columbia then there are in the whole United States.

Hummingbirds are the only animals that can fly backwards.

A flamingo can eat only when its head is upside down.

A group of geese on the ground is gaggle, a group of geese in the air is skein.

A group of larks is called an exaltation.

A group of ravens is called a murder.

A group of owls is called a parliament.

A group of chickens is called a peep.

A group of hawks is called a kettle.

A bird's feathers weigh more than its skeleton does, except for diving birds like loons that have solid bones for diving purpose. The added weight allows for a loon to dive down to 250 feet in search of food.

The added weight also makes take off and flight hard work for these birds.

A loon's legs are designed for swimming and diving.

A loon can't walk on land.

One more to end this letter.

Yes, the last bit of trivia for today.

It's the longest nonstop bird migration ever measured, according to biologists who tracked the flight using satellite tags.

A female shorebird was recently found to have flown 7,145 miles (11,500 kilometers) nonstop from Alaska to New Zealand—without taking a break for food or drink.

The bird, a wader called a Bar-tailed godwit, completed the journey in nine days.

Some 70,000 godwits make the epic journey from their northern summer breeding grounds in Alaska down to New Zealand each September, before flying all the way back the following March.

Birds continue to amaze us don't they?

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, we have a hummer special to share.

Diane in Derby, New York:

I also love the Hummingbirds.

Last year I heard a loud thump to the sliding glass door. I look out and seen a humming bird laying on the deck. I picked it up and thought it was dead. I've never held one. So I put its beak into the sugar water. Then it came to. I held it for a short time and it flew off. That was one of my treasured moments.

I would treasure a moment like that too Diane, hummers are so special and we treasure them.

Thank you for sharing.

I hope you enjoyed this letter and bit of trivia.

Before, I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

When we are mindful of every nuance of our natural world, we finally get the picture: that we are only given one dazzling moment of life here on Earth, and we must stand before that reality both humbled and elevated, subject to every law of our universe and grateful for our brief but intrinsic participation with it. (From her biography of naturalist Eustace Conway.)

Elizabeth Gilbert

Be sure to carefully read it again.

When we can finally see the big picture, all of earth's majesty before us.

When you understand there is a Superior Being that created all we see and understand there is no way this could just happen.

When you understand the laws of the universe and the Creator that placed them into being.

Now you can stand humbled, in awe, yet elevated.

Now you can be thankful for who you are and that you are special and unique.

Now smile and share your blessings.

Be sure to smile to at least one stranger this week.

If nothing else, you may confuse them.

Until next time,

God Bless.

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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