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It's In The Tongue
May 23, 2016

Snow last Sunday, 70's and 80's this past Sunday and the rest of this week.

At least that is the forecast.

Yep, folks in west Michigan can finally plant tender annuals and veggie gardens.

Those are some of my plans for this week.

In fact, I have a young granddaughter coming over to help me plant.

More of a hindrance than a help.

It becomes a bonding time, however.

Memory making time.

A chance for a young child to get dirty, that otherwise wouldn't have the pleasure.

A couple of pictures of a Red-winged blackbird courtship dance.

Notice the female in the upper right corner of the second picture.

He bounces around, rapidly flapping wings and showing off the red shoulders.

Always a treat.

Birds are quick, I never get a chance to get a picture of them mating, yet all the birds seem busy.

Hummingbirds are in competition with orioles over the window feeder.

Good thing I have a couple other hummer feeders out and about.

The cool spring has many flowers lagging a couple weeks behind.

It is so nice to see the surrounding greening up.

Bird activity is such a joy.

Along with the joy, I am always getting opportunities to learn more about nature.

Yolanda is doing well, yet overtime is losing the ability to find her legs to stand.

This is more on me, as I continue to pull double duty (all the physical stuff), while Karen's knee heals.

Karen goes back to the doctor in a couple more weeks to see what is up.

It appears there is some kind of damage done to the meniscus that is causing pain and discomfort.

I can relate, as I had a tear and a lineament tear 30 some years ago.

Continued prayers are appreciated, as they do help.

Martie my friend, a couple pictures of Snickers just for you, and congrats on your new fur child.

A birds tongue.


It's In The Tongue:

(Bufflehead duck)

Several of you have asked me this spring about woodpeckers at your hummingbird feeders.

You wanted to know if this was common.

While not an everyday occurrence for for many, it may be for you.

Over the years I have had different birds at my hummer feeders, this year I have orioles.

(In the southwest, bats feed on the sweet water at night.)

With the questions, I gave some of you the answer that 'hummer tongues and woodpecker tongues are similar'.

In some ways they are, as both birds have very long tongues that roll up be hind the eye sockets.

While the woodpecker's barbed, spear like tongue bone, can extend up to 4 times the length of its beak/bill to snag insects from deep under the bark of a tree.

Hummingbirds may have the most delicate and flexible tongues.

Long hollow tubes that fork at the end into two curled troughs, licking in and out of a nectar source up to 15 times a second.

While hummer tongues are created to lick, they too must catch tiny insects for protein.

A woodpecker's tongue is designed to probe, and lick holes for insects, they too lick sap and nectar from fresh pecked holes, busted branches that drip, puncture flowers for a quick lick, and raid your hummer feeders.

Orioles have a brush, or bushy tip to their tongue.

Almost like a fine paintbrush, oriole tongues can lick nectar, and often will puncture flowers like Trumpet vine (Campsis radicans).

I consider it a joy and privilege when another bird stops by for a snack.

Even when an American robin makes a rare stop at a suet cake.

I digress.

Every bird has a tongue, but not all species have the same type of tongue.

Waterfowl, geese, ducks, swans, have a flat, fleshy type tongue and a bill created to work with the tongue.

Upon a closer look, the tongue may appear to have hair, or a fine sifting and filtering system that goes with the bill.

Cardinals, Grosbeaks, Finches, Sparrows, and others have bills designed to crack open hard shelled seeds.

Along the way, God gave them a stout tongue to move and roll the seeds around as they are being cracked and then consumed.

Still the tongue assists in catching and eating insects as well.

Yes, the shape of their tongues is hugely various, depending on how the bird uses its tongue.

The tongues of pelicans and kingfishers who scoop and swallow their food whole are small and almost useless.

Birds that need to able to manipulate seeds or fruits in their mouths, on the other hand, tend to have well-padded tongues with blunt tongue bones.

Through research, I came across

Laura Erickson's Birding Blog.

Her blog page on bird's tongues is nothing less than amazing.

Laura has done a magnificent job describing bird tongues and several pictures showing a tongue in action.

I don't have the camera or patience, thankfully others do.

Enjoy her work.

(notice the orange nectar oriole feeder in the top left. The orioles prefer the little hummer feeder on the window.)

A bird's tongue is designed more as a tool and not for taste.

Though research shows taste comes from other sources.

When you are watching the birds in your yard and garden., your pet bird, or even a shorebird as you stroll the beach.

Watch to see if you can notice the tongue action of the birds and how they work for food.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

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

God Bless.

"Your talent is God's gift to you.

What you do with it is your gift back to God".

Leo Buscaglia

I'm a big fan of the late, Leo Buscaglia.

A champion of love and friendship.

I use is quotes from time to time.

Now here is God's true gift for you.

"For God so loved the world

That he gave his one and only Son,

That whoever believes in him

Shall not perish but have eternal life."

John 3:16

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life.

“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy. “It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.
One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed,
arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority,
lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”

He continued,

“The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope,
serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy,
generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.
The same fight is going on inside you –
and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute
and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

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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