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March 19, 2018

Laundry Day and Sophie has to make sure Karen is doing things the right way.

March 20, the first official day of SPRING!

We are also in the Middle of 'March Madness'.

I'm sure your bracket is busted.

At least we are making some headway.

Much of this past week has been to cold, or cool and windy to venture outside for any length of time.

Saturday, however hovered around 50 degrees, I was able to get a few things accomplished.

There are still things to dig and move, and get some pruning taken care of.

Plus there are new plants to heal in.

Mail order nurseries are sending bare root stock and some plants that probably need to get in the ground.

I wish they would wait for decent weather conditions.

I'm also planting and transplanting seeds and seedlings of various kinds.

There is something about planting a seed and watching it grow.

It brings out the mother in me :-)

It is a time of year when appointments clutter the calendar.

Take Yolanda here and there for check ups and evaluations.

Not to mention our own appointments, and taking little ones to see the Butterflies at Fredrick Meijer Gardens this week.

Below are two pictures of a Spur on a Tom Turkey (in my yard).

The spurs are a big part of a turkey's arsenal, the bigger the spur ........

These are also on Roosters, and make the illegal cockfights a bloody and deadly thing.

Crack open a window and you will find Miss Penny and Sophie with their noses plastered to the screen.

The doggies are just happy to hang out with Me much of the time.

A topic I've written on a couple times before, but well worth another go round.

Bird Love, The Kiss.


Onward ........

The female chooses the male she wants to be with.

Yep, that's the drill. we chase until a female catches us.

Often it is decided on his ability to defend a territory, or may be totally based on his color.

Genetics, survival of the fittest.

Birds know how important it is to pass on a strong genetic line.

Once a relationship has formed and she is receptive, it's time for some bird love.

Time to 'Get It On'.

I have to be careful what I say so this letter isn't rejected.

Certain words raise red flags and spam filters. Okay then.

I'm sure most of you have seen birds mating, what you may not know with most birds is ...

There is no penetration.

For some birds, such as swans, ducks, geese, turkeys and chickens the male does have a Phallus and there is penetration.

Except during copulation, it is hidden within the proctodeum compartment within the cloaca, just inside the vent.

The avian phallus differs from the mammalian reproductive organs in several ways, most importantly in that it is purely a copulatory organ and is not used for expelling urine.

The Kiss:

When we see birds mating it is called the“Cloacal Kiss.” (kloh-ey-kuhl Kiss)

The Cloaca (kloh-ey-kuh), is the external organ part where all of a birds excretions come out of.

a cloaca is the posterior opening that serves as the only such opening for the intestinal and urinary tracts of certain animal species.

The word comes from the Latin, and literally means sewer.

All birds, reptiles, and amphibians possess this orifice, from which they excrete both urine and feces, eggs and sometimes live babies.

Some birds mount, others do a balancing act and still others like swallows and swifts mate on the fly.

The birds Cloaca come in contact much like a kiss and fluids (the male seed), are deposited from male to female.

The actual act (kiss) may take but a few seconds or less with the exchange taking about .5 seconds.

The kiss takes place several times within a mating period.

Not only for reproductive purposes, but it also helps to strengthen a pair's bond.

Diagram of Male Parts:


Before all of this takes place, some interesting things are happening within the bird.

A male bird's reproductive fluid organs increase in size dramatically.

Often more than 100 times the non breeding size (ouch).

Inside the Cloaca is a depository sack that holds the fluid, (The bible refers to the seed).

Observe the diagrams below for a general idea on bird plumbing and reproductive organs.

A female bird goes through changes as well.

Though they are made and hatched with two ovaries, only the left one is productive in song birds. (Birds of prey seem to have 2 active ovaries.)

After the kiss, depending on the species of bird, she has the ability to keep the male seeds alive and healthy for days and even weeks.

Until she is ready to nest.

Some species of birds are known to mate during migration, like Killdeer.

This way, no time is wasted and they can get right down to raising a family.

Female Parts:

A female birds reproductive system is much like an assembly line as the ripe yolk is dropped, continues down the line where it is fertilized and built up all in about a 24 hour period.

A typical bird will lay one egg a day while other birds may lay one every other day or every 2 days.

Some birds like chickens will continue to lay until a certain number is reached (indeterminate).

With many birds, a clutch size can vary, but there is usually a basic clutch size (determinate).

For example, A Hummingbird clutch is usually 2 eggs rarely if ever more.

A Robin is usually 4, but can be 2 or 3 and rarely 5.

A chickadee, because it usually has but one clutch early, has a larger clutch of 6 to 9 eggs.

It only takes one kiss to fertilize the whole clutch.

However, with all males once is never enough, that is why you may see a pair kissing several times.

Many scientists believe this strengthens the bond between the birds.

With some birds like Eastern bluebirds and even Northern cardinals, DNA testing has shown there is more than one father in a given clutch.

With some male birds of the same species, (Wrens and Juncos come to mind) the can have an over dose of testosterone and aren't satisfied with one mate.

It is well documented that female hummingbirds do all the work after mating, but this may hold true for other species as well ( male Red-winged blackbirds often have several mates).

While waterfowl like swans a geese mate for life, ducks are a different sort.

You may see a pair of Mallard ducks walking around or coming to your feeders like they do mine.

You may think "How Cute" as the male sits and watches the female feed.

He isn't being the protective mate, he is simply keeping an eye on his prize, making sure another male doesn't mess with her.

He doesn't want some other male to come along while his back is turned, but give him the chance and he is off some where else to to pass along his seed.

I have witnessed several male mallard ducks ganging up on a female, taking turns, many times resulting in her death.

When possible I try to intervene.

Once the eggs are laid and the female Mallard is ready to nest, the male is long gone (some loyal mate he is).

She now has to sit for a good 30 days and find time to eat, drink and do other things.

This can be taxing on the female as she is left to do it all on her own.

A good 2,000 bird songs and calls to help you out.

Some birds produce one batch of eggs per year, however many species will produce another if the first is taken away or destroyed (they have the ability to produce more).

We know that with hummers, Mallards and some other species, she does all the work.

However, with most birds, at least some or all the duties are shared.

Though the male stakes out a territory, it is usually up to the female to decide on a nest sight.

With some birds, both partners will build the nest and take turns incubating.

With American Robins, the female is the sole nest builder, while with Mourning doves both partners partake.

With Black-capped chickadees, both will share in nest construction, while the female chickadee does all the incubating, while he brings home the bacon.

And so it goes.

With all the differences created in the thousands of species of birds worldwide, they all have some things in common don't they?

Many species of birds need our help more than ever.

The loss of habitat and the excessive use of toxins continue to kill off our birds.

Be a good steward, wont you?

“Creation” is a wonderful thing, and we get to witness God's handy work all around us.

Well Ron, it is time to fly for now.

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

God Bless.

"Any person capable of angering you becomes your master; he can anger you only when you permit yourself to be disturbed by him".

Epictetus (55-135 AD) Greek Philosopher

Anger can turn into bitterness.

Bitterness leads to unforgiveness.

Forgiveness becomes a cancer that eats away at your life.

"My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this:

Everyone should be quick to listen,

Slow to speak and slow to become angry, Because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires".

James 1:19-20

"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.

A Blessed week to you .

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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