Bird Feeding with George Petrides
Tips on attracting and feeding backyard birds.
Sharing ideas and topics related to feeding and attracting wild birds in your backyard.
“Best gems in Nature’s cabinet,
With dews of tropic morning wet,
Beloved of children, bards and Spring,
O birds, your perfect virtues bring,
Your song, your forms, your rhythmic flight,
Your manners for the heart’s delight.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson, “May-Day”
Only in some species. Incubating the eggs requires a “brood patch”, an area of skin on the belly that loses its feathers toward the end of the egg-laying period. The patch also develops a supplemental set of blood vessels that bring hot blood close to the surface of the skin. The brood patch is brought into contact with the eggs to provide the necessary warmth for incubation to occur. The feathers will be re-grown once the eggs have hatched and/or the nestlings have grown insulating feathers of their own.
Bluebird nest. Photo by Janet Furlong.
In some species, such as the Mourning Dove, both sexes develop brood patches and incubate the eggs; in others, such as the bluebird, only the female has a brood patch and incubates the eggs. Amazing!
Now that we are well into this new century, global climate change has become an increasingly hot topic!
Image by Janet-Furlong.
Our world is getting warmer, though opinions differ about the severity of the problem and the extent to which it is caused by the burning of fossil fuels or factors that include natural cycles longer than human records.
Pineview Resevoir. Liberty, UT. Image by Marc Zabokrtsky.
Some people believe that market forces will provide solutions, and that energy efficiency is the key because it is good for the environment and good for business. Some people promote the use of alternative technologies. Some are trading in their SUVs and high-energy appliances to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Others won’t be concerned until they sense specific threats to their lifestyles.
So we can see that our debates about these issues have begun to tell us something important about our individual values and other hot topics!
Among most birds, the sense of smell is poorly developed, so they find their food by sight. No other living animals can match the visual acuity of birds.
Male Ruby-throated Hummingbird
The eye of a bird is extremely large by mammalian standards. Though they look relatively small, hidden behind their lids and protective rings of overlapping bone, birds’ eyes are enormous. This is because the image must be big and have sharp details so that they can locate their food while flying. Imagine the extraordinary vision needed by a hawk cruising over a meadow in search of a mouse, a loon in pursuit of its underwater prey, a hummingbird gleaning a minuscule insect near a trumpet vine, and a titmouse searching for a source of black oil sunflower seeds – amazing!
What is the correct pronunciation of “pileated” as in the woodpecker name?
PIE-lee-ated is the preferred pronunciation, but PIL-ee-ated” is also just fine. How’s that for coming down on both sides of the issue? There’s likely to be some other fine regional versions too! I personally love pies so it’s easy for me to remember as “PIE” for me. Ornithologists are undecided about many things so why not a little word pronunciation as well?
By the way, the Latin word pileatus, which means “capped” or “crested”, refers to this bird’s impressive red crest. A gorgeous bird, no matter how you say it.