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Where Are All of My Birds?
September 15, 2014
Hi,

Who flipped the switch?

Who stole the rest of my summer?

Monday and Tuesday we were at the beach, enjoying Lake Michigan.

Taking a swim, watching monarchs as they migrate.

Feeding a family of very young ducks for this time of year.

By thursday, we were struggling to reach 60 degrees fahrenheit.

Wearing jeans and jackets, and Karen turning the furnace on.

Come on.....

It is still Summer.

I usually don't bring my camera to the beach, but I was hoping to to get a shot of some Piping plovers (it may be a bit early for them).

The young ducklings are still mostly fuzz with some feathers showing.

A late hatch, that is in a race for time right now.

It happens every August and September.

I am often asked this,

"Where have all my birds gone"?

Always a good question, especially for the novice backyard birder.

And every year, I give the same answers.

Take a walk into a field full of seeds and ripe fruits.

Walk through a wooded area.

You will see and hear birds everywhere.

Robins, jay, cardinals and others, in large and small loose flocks.

Birds are wild creatures and live as wild creatures.

Our feeders are supplements this time of year.

Even in peak feeder season, research shows that most birds get 25% of their groceries from our handouts.

Summer is over.

School is in.

This holds true for birds and other wildlife as well.

What?

You never gave it much though, did you?

Here is a sample of what birds must learn before they reach sub-adult.

Enjoy.

(Tubby Hummer)

It happens every August and September.

I am often asked this,

"Where have all my birds gone"?

Always a good question, especially for the novice backyard birder.

And every year, I give the same answers.

Take a walk into a field full of seeds and ripe fruits.

Walk through a wooded area.

You will see and hear birds everywhere.

Robins, jay, cardinals and others, in large and small loose flocks.

Birds are wild creatures and live as wild creatures.

Our feeders are supplements this time of year.

Even in peak feeder season, research shows that most birds get 25% of their groceries from our handouts.

Summer is over.

School is in.

This holds true for birds and other wildlife as well.

What?

You never gave it much though, did you?

Here is a sample of what birds must learn before they reach sub-adult.

Enjoy.

Some Things Young Birds Need to Learn:

Yes, school is in session.

Fledgling and Juvenile birds have to be educated and trained for their life.

Though not exactly in the way we are trained, They still must learn survival skills.

We must learn to crawl before we can walk and walk before we can run.

Birds must strengthen their legs too, but learning to fly is paramount for most bird species.

Baby birds tend to first fly away from the nest, when the parents are away after food.

Sometimes, a parent will try to coax a nestling who is afraid to try his wings.

I have watched young birds leave a nest or nest box several times.

Yet, one seems to remain, too timid to try.

Baby will stand on the edge of the nest, or peak its head from the box and cry.

But it did not want to use its wings.

A parent may come along to see him now and then, but the big world was to scary.

Finally it may be coaxed out by mom or dad holding a juicy worm or insect just out of reach from baby.

Now the parent moves a bit further away until baby forgets its fears and pursues the food.

After the baby has left the nest, we know them as fledglings.

Most fledglings still need to master the art of flying and this takes place over the next few weeks.

I'm sure you have seen a fledgling clumsily do a nose dive into a shrub or make a crash landing.

The grace and beauty of flight will come as the young birds learn how to use and maneuver each feather individually for specific needs and duties.

A miraculous feat in itself.

The youngsters attempt to stay out of harms way and manage to call for food.

As flying skills improve, the baby/fledgling must learn several other life supporting skills.

Find their own food.
Where to sleep.
What to be afraid of.
How to protect himself from their enemies.
Different calls and cries of their family, and what each call means.
Learn to fly in a flock with other birds.
And learn to sing.

Feeding Lessons:

If you watch baby birds just out of the nest, you can see them being taught the most useful and important lesson, how to find their food.

The robin parents take their babies to the ground, and shows him where the worms live and how to get them.

Cardinals bring their offspring to find berries, seeds and insects.

Often backyard feeders are one of the first lessons for some species of birds.

Though I must say, Black-capped chickadees have a long learning period before they return to my yard.

Chickadee youngsters are gone for as long as two months from fledgling my nest box to returning to the scene.

When they return, they have developed many new skills from the smaller version of their parents when they first hopped out of the nest box.

The owl parent finds a mouse creeping about in the grass, and teaches the owlets how to pounce upon it, by doing it herself before them.

The swallow, takes her youngsters into the air, and shows them how to catch insects and drink on the wing.

I've witnessed Red-tail hawks drop dead rats and other animal parts in an attempt to get their fledglings to fly down from a snag or utility pole and make a mock kill before they can feed.

It is almost a pitiful sight to watch a young, fledged hawk, as large as the parents, scream and cry helplessly.

Yet, knowing if it survives, it will one day be an apex predator with its own territory.

If you watch long enough, you may see the parent bird who is training a young one fly away.

She may leave the young one alone on a tree or the ground, and be gone a long time.

Before many minutes the little one will get hungry, and begin to call for food.

But, if nobody comes to feed him, he will think to look around for something to eat.

Now the fledgling will get his lesson in helping himself. Many times I can watch parents ignore their youngsters or fly away for a time.

Eventually the young bird attempts to forage for itself and with some success.

However, as soon as mom or dad reappear, the cries and flapping wings of helplessness start back up.

Fledglings and juveniles must also learn what to eat and what not to eat (poisonous) and how to remove stingers from wasps and bees.

Herons and kingfishers must learn how to wait patiently and at the right moment spear or dive into the water to catch its prey.

Osprey, Bald Eagles and other types of birds learn how make corrections from what they see in the water and where the fish actually is.

They must, to be successful hunters.

Young kingbirds must learn how to wait for insects to fly by, and then fly out and snag one in mid air.

Woodpeckers must learn to hunt for food in various ways.

There are many attempts and failures and if a young bird isn't successful it will starve.

Eventually, mom and dad will leave the fledgling to feed for itself.

There are time tables to keep.

For many birds, this is a must as new nests are being built and eggs laid.

For other birds time is important for lessons learned, as migration looms.

Yes, birds must learn a lot in a short period of time, and we often don't think about bird schooling.

Eventually, mom and dad will leave the fledgling to fend for itself.

There are time tables to keep.

For many birds, this is a must, as second and third nests are being built and eggs laid.

For other birds time is important for lessons learned, as migration looms.

Yes, birds must learn a lot in a short period of time, and we often don't think about bird schooling.

Singing Lessons or Bird Talk:

Think of the several different calls a bird makes.

Songs for territory and mating.

Alarm calls, I'm mad, Real danger and more.

Certain species like this Meadow Lark will face the sun while it sings, to show off its bright colored breast.

Research now suggests that Black-capped chickadees have one of he most complex languages in the bird world.

Every dee-dee-dee and every pitch (high and low) and length, has a different meaning and may even indicate direction according to some scientists.

That is truly amazing.

Or is it?

Birds are smarter than we give them credit for.

You may have heard several baby birds at their music lessons.

It is very easy to catch the birds teaching their little ones to exercise their wings and to fly together.

You may also witness parents teaching youngsters to sing or speak the language.

We all know they have the "feed me squawk" down pat, but now they must learn the language of "communication".

The language of "love", "danger", what kind of danger.

The language of "I'm mad", "alarm calls", "Where are you", and understanding all of the above.

Many species of birds even understand these signals from other species.

This is how several species can gang up on a crow or hawk that happens by.

Alarms are recognizable.

Blue jays have discovered that false alarm calls will leave feeding stations open as other birds scatter,.

Jays are quick to move in for a fast and uninterrupted feast.

Young birds must be taught about all the dangers out there.

Just like we try to teach our kids.

What birds and animals are predators ( there isn't always a second chance).

All of these lessons aren't over once the parents stop tending to the now juveniles needs.

After mating season, many birds of a feather will flock together and the extended family continues to teach.

Even if it is simply from watching, listening and learning.

Juveniles are still learning survival skills.

Still learning where to find food, how and when to sing and what to fear.

If this year's baby birds survive (25% that will see their first birthday), they have learned well.

However, lessons aren't over.

Bathing and Preening Lessons:

You may have watched jays, robins and other birds teach they young one to bathe.

They bring their offspring a bird bath, puddle, or some other water source.

The little one stands on the edge and watches his mom or dad go in, and splash and scatter the water.

He/she fluttered his wings, and was eager to try it for himself, but seemed afraid to plunge in.

Some birds like this Juvenile cardinal has learned the fine art of leafing as a shower/bath.

Food is always a motivator and often works for bath time too.

You may also see some birds bathing or flying through sprinklers.

After a bath, preening is the next life lesson and you may watch this too.

Possibly you have seen birds giving some of these baby bird lessons, and many others as interesting and entertaining.

I see it as an educational lesson for me as well.

The key to observation is to be quiet and still, and not frighten the birds.

Migration:

To continue on living, many species of birds must migrate.

Migration is dictated on the length of daylight hours, not warm or cold weather.

And it certainly isn't dictated on you keeping your feeders up or not.

For many birds, it is simply following the food trail.

Insects, fish, crustaceans, green plants and the need for open water.

Many of our birds migrate to various southern locations for the winter months.

Some species migrate from Northern Canada to the northern tier or two of states here in the USA.

Some will migrate to the southern states, Gulf coast, or other coastal regions.

Others may migrate to the Caribbean Islands, Latin America and even to the southern parts of South America

These birds are known as Neotropical birds.

Most birds must be taught the migration trail, as large flocks gather and move by the thousands.

Some species like Sandhill cranes will remain with their parents until they return north and are finally chased off.

For some species of birds, school does indeed last for several months.

Well, it's time to fly for now.

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

God Bless.

"Don't give the people what they want, give them something better".

Entertainment pioneer Sam Rothafel

Give Them more.

Walk the Extra Mile.

Give your best.

That is exactly what God did for you.

"If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts
to your children,
how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"

Luke 11:13

"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



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