My wife and I enjoy a significant amount of leisure time in Adirondack Rockers, peering out our screened lanai at the wildlife mulling about our backyard. If you have been following my stories, you’ve met Mama-Kazi, our death-wish squirrel, and Bon-Bon, our chocolate Easter Bunny.
Yes, Cindy names them all.
We’ve got Sam the raccoon, and no, she is not male. She gave birth to a brood of furballs that grew up to have a few of their own. So now there’s Scruffy, Bandit, Wednesday, Three Amigos and The Interloper. That one is a large, gray-haired raccoon that must have paid particularly close attention to his world because a wild animal has to be pretty smart to live long enough to go gray.
We have Blossom the Opossum and Arnie the Armadillo who keeps rutting out our gutter drainpipe for something obviously absent in the rest of Florida. We even have some reptile buddies too, but it all started with the birdfeeders. We just wanted to watch some birds, that’s all.
When I first hung the feeders, the response became formidable. Birds such as chickadees, woodpeckers, wrens, doves and cardinals, began to frequent the feeders continuously but seasonal birds began to detour from their migration routes just to hang out. Robins, Painted Buntings, and orioles stayed for days and then moved on but some opt to ride out the winter here, including goldfinches, warblers, catbirds and thrashers. When I introduced roasted peanuts, Blue-jays joined in and when I added freeze-dried mealworms, gazooks, it went a little crazy around here.
It has been a total joy and most of the birds are not as messy as you might think. Doves and finches unabashedly drop their splatter but the rest tend towards dainty-well-behaved.
These avian parents fascinate us as they do their nurturing. Chickadees remain industrious, cardinals act attentive, and wrens sing symphonies in their continuous pursuit of their hatchling’s nutrition. Oh, these baby chicks relentlessly chirp their high-pitched demands.
I can usually hear the newborn chicks but Cindy can’t because the pitch is too high. When the week-old fledglings leave their nest to scrounge about the yard, tentative and timid, it truly is enrapturing.
Although most of the birds pop-out as miniature versions of their parents, some do not, especially the newborn male cardinals. Many of them enter this world looking like a poorly glued concoction of red and gray fluff.
Cindy has a name for them too, “Motley.”
Their birdly coaching methods touch your heart. Cindy watched an adult male cardinal teach a young Motley how to take a bath. The neon-red dad-bird tip-toed into the birdbath, chest-high, lowered his body, splashed, dunked and fluttered. Then the regal cardinal stepped out, wings on hips, supervising as Motley timidly emulated the procedure until he mastered the bath.
It was so sweet that Cindy choked up.
Yes, most of the birds can be engaging tutors. Not the doves, though, no. They leave their young-uns to their own devices. Periodically, baby doves show up in our yard and peck around in a state of utter confusion because, hey, what in feathered-blazes is a dove supposed to do, anyway?
And, gaging by their behavior, I don’t think any of them ever manage to figure it out.
© Copyright 2021 Flagler Humane Society
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