Tufted Titmouse hits window

Today a young Tufted Titmouse flew into our window, quite hard.  It landed on the steps to our deck (high cat traffic area) and it’s mother and father proceeded to do everything they could to get it to fly to safety.  I apologize (again) for the blurry photos.  These are worse than usual through-the-window shots, because they are on the low window that my young children put their hands on when they look out.  But I thought it was worth capturing because it was so worrisome (don’t worry it ends well) and because the parents to this baby bird were trying so hard to get it to fly to safety.  It was stunned on the deck steps for approx. 45 minutes.  The following photos and video clips were taken during that time.

Worried parent:

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Baby closest, parent further out:

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Now below is what I think was Momma bird (but I could have them backwards), doing something that was really interesting to watch.  She was somehow trying to communicate to the baby bird to move and leave the area.  The baby bird was stunned and not responding.  But she was flapping her wings in a half open/closed/half open/closed fashion very rapidly, while clicking her beak open and shut over and over again.  It was interesting to watch, she did this for a loooooong time.  I watched closely to see what would happen and also to make sure that all the commotion didn’t draw in a cat.

It was actually kind of gut wrenching to watch her panic.     😦

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In this next shot, “Momma” bird is on the left still doing her frantic dance, baby in the middle still stunned but starting to turn it’s head and blink it’s eyes a little, and “Daddy” bird was on the right.

Notice the cat prints on the step, they were right to want to get the baby out of there ASAP.

Now I’ll show you the three short video clips I took at the end of all of this.  In them you can see how the “Daddy” bird was flying in and hitting the baby, trying to get it to move.  There is no worthwhile sound on these so you may want to just mute it.  If you hear odd baby noises in the background that would be my baby girl playing in the room behind me while I filmed this.  😉
And in the last clip the baby finally “comes around” and flies off safely with Mom & Dad.    🙂

Clip 1:
They aren’t doing a whole lot in this first short clip.

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Clip 2:
In this clip you get to see some of the frantic communication from the mother, and you get to see the father flying into the baby trying to get it to go.

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Clip 3:
And this is the one where it finally works.

It was really nice to see a happy ending to this.  And it was touching to see how long they stuck around and tried.

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How you know you have a small dog

What I am about to describe happens so often and I always say, “This is how you know you have a small dog.”
We have other dogs but our very small dog is Sniffer.  (Our son named her Sniffer several years ago when he was very young.  He said, “Because she sniffs out crunchy treats.”  Due to her habit of following the kids around cleaning up their crumbs.)

Sniffer is a rescue.  1/2 Chihuahua and 1/2  Jack Russell Terrier.  And she would like to be about as onery as you would imagine a cross of those two breeds would be.  But I am very good at training dogs.  So she’s a great little girl, with very few of the quirks of a toy breed.  And we just love her to pieces.

She’s actually about 10 pounds, but you would never guess it by looking at her.  She is quite small.  But her body is very compact and muscular, so she weighs more than you would think by looking at her.

When she goes out to potty she sometimes likes to nap in the sun at the back steps.  If she relaxes enough to go into “dead dog” sleeping mode, she attracts vultures.  It creeps me out a little.  If you think about it, they are just hoping one day she’ll be dead and not sleeping I guess.  So that’s kinda morbid and gross.  But since she’s not dead and just napping, and they never get too close, it’s mostly just funny.  Sometimes I’ll let her out and then be washing the dishes and I’ll look out the window and see big shadows going across the yard and I’ll know the vultures are circling her again.  LOL!   They never land in the yard, but they do circle.  If we step outside they usually leave, or circle very high, instead of down so low.

Today I decided to try to get a video clip of them.  You can’t see Sniffer in the video clip, but she was sleeping on the sidewalk and this is the turkey vultures circling above.  They were very high up by the time I took this clip.  I apologize in advance for the shakiness.  My current neurological symptoms make it hard to hold a camera still.  They were lower in my first clip, but I was too shaky to make it worth uploading.  I did a little better for this clip:

And here’s a photo of sweet little Sniffer.  Otherwise known as Vulture bait.   😉

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a very small Cardinal

Finally my last post from the photos I took on September 28th.  I saved my favorite for last.  The reason this was my favorite is because it’s something I have never seen before.

Perhaps someone who knows more about birds than I do, might have some insight into this one.  But I saw a Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) in color like a full grown adult male.  But it was at least 1/3 the size of an adult male cardinal.  Now I’m admittedly not an expert.  But even literature that I’ve found says that young cardinals are not this red yet.  I personally do not recall ever seeing a young one that was already full red.  I wish there was something in these photos and videos that would make it easier for someone watching to determine size.  Because these pictures and videos give the appearance of him being larger than he was.  But this bird was very very small for a cardinal.

I’m curious if he is young and became red early, or if he is adult and very small.  I am leaning toward young and red early, simply because he tolerated human presence more than adult cardinals generally seem to do.  But that is just a guess.

So here are some photos and video clips I took of the little guy, while he ate seeds and things in the brush.  First the photos:

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And now for the videos:

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I hope you enjoyed these.
And remember all of my nature videos can be found on the Nature Blog YouTube Channel.

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You Tube Channel

I have created a You Tube Channel for this blog !

Basically it is a place where you can go and see all of the videos uploaded by us for this blog.  Currently there is only the skink video posted.  But I hope to upload more soon.  I will of course update you as to those uploads on here as well, as they will be a part of the blog.  But I thought I’d post a link to the direct channel as well, just in case anyone would like to bookmark it.  Thanks!

Click here to visit our new You Tube Channel.

September 17th, 2009 – Learned something new today

Today I learned something new about the Five-lined Skink ( Eumeces fasciatus).  Of course I knew that they can drop their tails as a means of escaping predators or things they perceive as threats, and that the tail grows back.  But I was not aware that the tail keeps moving long after they drop it.  I think it safe to assume that the reason for this has to be because it would work even better as a means of escape, if it continued to move as if it were the actual skink himself.  I found this really interesting.

But I’ll back up for a moment and tell you how I learned this.  Today my husband was on his way outside and he yells, “Debbie there’s a skink in the house.”  I came into the kitchen and said, “Where?”  He said, “I opened the door and it fell on me and jumped off of me onto the floor.  Then it ran under the table.”  I said, “Oh great.”

Skinks are very fast, and I hated the thought of loosing one in our house.  Where he might die a slow death of dehydration.  😦   I looked under the table and spotted him right away.  A very young one, running about looking for a place to hide.  I managed to get under my table in time to catch him in my hands.  I feared what going under there would do to my spine, but surprisingly enough crawling under my table hurt less than most of the things that I attempt during the day.

As soon as I caught him, I cupped him in both of my hands.  I never pulled on him or anything like that.  Just scooped him up carefully but quickly.  But apparently I scared him enough to make him feel the need to drop his tail while inside my hands.  I felt the Pop as it popped off inside of my hands.  I said to my husband, “Oh no, he’s dropped his tail.”  I felt a ton of thrashing about, and I assumed it was the little skink.  In hindsight I now realize it was the tail.   I cracked my hand open and his tail fell out onto the floor.  I took the little skink outside and he sat there in my hand looking at me for a few moments.  Then he took off up my arm as fast as he could run.  I put my hand in front of him to block him from making it to my shirt, and he leapt off into the grass.

I had only two teeny tiny drops of blood on my hand.  So clearly there isn’t much blood loss when they do this.

My husband came out with the tail and said, “You’ve got to see this.”   He laid the tail on our outside table and it was thrashing about like you wouldn’t believe.  Eventually it stopped (this was probably at least 5 to 10 minutes after popping off).  And he touched it, and it started flopping again.  We realized that it would lay perfectly still until you touched it, then it would move.  It was really something to see.  My husband went and grabbed the camera and we took some photos of it.

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After a bit (probably at least 10 – 15 minutes after the tail had dropped off) we got the idea to take a video of it.  And he touched it to provoke the reaction again and we taped it.  If you’ve ever seen someone kill a snake, I would say this is much like the muscle reactions that you see after a snake is killed.  It doesn’t so much surprise me that it does this, as much as it surprises me that it does it for so LONG.  And that it stops for several minutes or more, and then if you touch it again, it provokes the same reaction.  What an interesting defense mechanism indeed !

I wish I could have stayed and timed it, to see how long it would do it before loosing whatever energy allows this to happen.  But I was in too much pain and had to go back inside to sit down.  All I can say is that it continued to do this after we took the video.  And we watched it do this for at least 20 minutes after the skink popped it off his body.  I think that is really impressive.  And certainly enough to help fool a lot of predators I would think.

Now for a first ever on this blog….  Video!

I have thought about adding video on several other occasions but never did.  But I thought this was worth adding.  It was just too tempting to pass up.  So….. Here ya go.  I hope you enjoy watching. Notice not only how it moves, but also how it moves enough to even completely turn itself over.  Let me know what you think and if you would like to see more videos in the future.

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