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Birds Do It
April 27, 2009
Welcome new readers, stick around.
Thank you current readers and friends for passing the word.
We grow and nature benefits as the word gets out.
Here in southwest Michigan, temperatures went from the upper 30's and low 40's the first part of the week, to 85 degrees on Friday.
Interesting that Michigan can be warmer than Miami and most of Florida that day.
We are now settling in to what seems to be a more spring like weather pattern.
Day time temperatures in the 60's and showers and thunder showers a couple times a week.
It has been a rainy weekend here.
April has been dry, we need the rain as many parts do.
April showers do bring the May flowers.
No matter what it feels like outside, wildlife waits for no weather person's report.
Life/death continues all around, no matter the weather conditions.
You will see bird activity no matter what.
Animals give birth etc.
Now, weather does play a roll in insect life, when it is to cool, insects don't fly and this can effect insect feeding birds.
Some birds rely almost 100% on insects and some years suffer for it.
Birds are driven to migrate north to breeding grounds, when weather keeps the insect population down, birds die because the drive to move is stronger then the need to push back to warmer conditions to find food.
If you can afford to keep feeding, continue to do so.
Mating birds and egg laying females can use the extra help we offer.
Sometimes the extra protein gives her the strength or crushed egg shell or oyster shell provide calcium needed to produce healthy eggs she will lay.
Always offer fresh water.
I hope to see orioles and hummers some time next week.
The first week of May is typical for me to hear and see orioles and on average, May 10 is my hummer sighting date (though I have seen them earlier).
I'm ready however, as feeders are up and waiting just incase.
Things are really greening up now.
Tree buds are swelling and many flowering trees will be in bloom sometime this week.
Often when I go for walks, I am in the fields and woods.
This time of year (earlier in the south) I notice several things that are hidden the rest of the year.
Cocoons, egg casings, small mammals and such.
The more time a person spends outside and in nature, the more you become in tune with her.
You begin to notice little things, even the venation on plant leaves.
You may notice how no two plants are alike.
You begin to understand that toadstools are the bloom of a fungus that is living below the surface of a dead tree or other wood debris.
You even learn to understand posturing and the birds calls and songs around you.
Is it a happy song or a love call.
Yes, birds make love.
Birds do it too.
Kinda sorta they do.
If you have been with me fore a couple of weeks or longer, you know I love birds and I have for as long as I can remember.
Especially song birds and birds of prey.
They truly are amazing.
Their freedom of flight.
How unique each species is in their ability to find food.
How they entertain us with their antics and song.
How relaxing and educational they can be to watch.
Yet, song birds are on the menu for other birds, several mammals, snakes and in some places they are hunted (Mourning doves).
Though every day is a life and death situation, they still find the time to "Do It," to make bird love.
Length of day dictates migration, it also dictates courtship, whoopee and reproduction.
Some birds mate for life or until a mate dies.
Some birds that we think mate for life will indeed get a bird divorce so they can find a mate better suited for reproduction.
(Isn't that the name of the game?)
Some birds mate for the season.
While other birds believe in sharing the wealth.
Through all of this, in a healthy environment, bird populations are able to maintain or even increase.
As it is in the animal kingdom, hormones rule and rage.
As is the case with all male creatures, the male is always ready before she is.
When the time is right, birds start the courtship process. Even birds that are paired for life.
You may have seen aerial displays or ground dances.
Some birds like Cardinals, the male will offer the female a morsel of food.
Some males show off colors.
Males House wrens may build several false nests hoping that a female will choose one so he can mate with her.
What us guys wont do for our chosen or favorite lady.
The female chooses the male she wants to be with.
Often is is decided on his ability to defend a territory or totally based on his color.
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 love...........
Time to "DO IT"
(I have to be careful what I say so this letter isn't rejected.)
We have all see 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.
Except during copulation, it is hidden within the proctodeum compartment within the cloaca, just inside the vent.
The avian phallus differs from the mammalian penis in several ways, most importantly in that it is purely a copulatory organ and is not used for expelling urine.
When we see birds mating it is called the "Cloacal Kiss"
The Cloaca 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 Latin, and 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 are deposited from male to female.
The actual act (kiss) may take but a few seconds with the exchange taking about .5 seconds (what a drag).
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.
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 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 fluids alive and healthy for days and even weeks.
Until she is ready to nest.
Some species of birds are known to mate during migration (Killdeer).
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, but with all males, once is never enough, that is why you may see a pair have at it 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 holds true for other species as well (Red-winged blackbirds).
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 DO IT.
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 all on her own.
Some birds produce one batch of eggs per year, but they 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.
But 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.
A female Robin is the sole nest builder, while with Mourning doves both partners partake.
With Black-capped chickadees, both will share in nest construction. However, the female chickadee does the incubating, while he brings home the bacon.
And so it goes.
"Creation" is a wonderful thing and living where we see it happening all around us is even more AWE inspiring don't you think?
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.
Radio towers, glass buildings, wind machines and more add to our feathered friends plight.
You can help out at home, by adding a small patch of habitat.
If you live in a wooded area, leaving or trimming a dead tree (snag) that can provide nesting and food for several species of birds.
Creating a hedge or keeping an old fence row intact.
Many species of grasslands and meadow birds are in danger.
Restoring a meadow or shrinking your lawn into habitat can go a long way to help your birds out.
As stewards, it is up to us to help out when and where we can, so our grand children can enjoy the wonders of "Nature" that we have enjoyed.
That is why we "Garden For Wildlife"
If you have friends and family that enjoy wildlife and gardening, pass this on.
The more we grow, the better off our wildlife will be.
Well, it's time to fly.
Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.
I've used this one before, but it is kind of a follow up on last week.
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
Those ancients sure were smart.
More than "Gardening For Wildlife"
Every so often, a reader or two will comment on the thought and how it hit home or helped him or her.
That is the whole idea behind the positive quotes.
Hopefully they will make a difference, wake someone up, empower, teach, even make you want to share a smile.
I so appreciate when you share with me (isn't that what friends do).
I feel honored when you share and when you ask for prayer (we need to find a way to open up a prayer forum or something)
The brain is a powerful thing, yet so confusing and frail.
Many of us haven't had the proper brain training, including myself.
Sadly, most never will hear about it and many are to afraid to make changes (even when they can).
Just about anyone can at least change their attitudes or thoughts on something or someone ( I try to change or improve myself on a daily basis).
Remain angry at somone and they control your thoughts and emotions.
You simply have to make that choice.
How often do we live our lives by what others have said (intimidation at home, school or work).
You'll never amount to anything.
You'll work in a certain line of work, because that is what we do.
You'll never become a doctor.
You can become anything you want to become.
You are smart.
You have talent
I believe in you.
I love you.
I'll support you.
Follow your dream or passion.
What would you like to hear?
What would others like to hear from you?
You hear something often enough and you start to believe it or live it.
You have the power in your brain to change it in you and your words can change and improve others as well.
Who is going to be the master of you thoughts?
Has someone angered you?
Are you allowing that anger to fester or control you?
Who is going to be the master of your destination?
Who is controlling your thoughts?
For some of us,
Physical abilities are limiting.
Financially we may be limited.
You can change a lot of things.
Changing an attitude and wearing a smile is a step in the right direction.
Smiles and a positive attitude rubs off and attracts my friend.
I might add this.
God is always on your side and he can work miracles.
But you have to let him first.
Until next time my friend.
"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,
PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers. Better yet, have them sign up so they can recieve their own letters.
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