Saturday, July 17, 2010

Bits and Bobs

CyFair Campus

Dee and I walked around the campus yesterday morning. I was hoping to see families of Black-bellied Whistling
Ducks on the retention ponds but there weren't any. Perhaps recent construction work on the campus has caused them to nest elsewhere this summer. I hope not, because I always enjoy watching the ducklings paddling around under the watchful eyes of their parents and other adults.

Although the ponds didn't have any ducks, they did have several other birds: Great Egret, Snowy Egret, two G
reen Herons, Mourning Doves and Northern Mockingbirds. There were lots of dragonflies, too. Until I looked at this photo, I'd never noticed that dragonfly wings have very intricate patterns of thin lines on their surfaces. They look almost like veins.

Elsewhere on the campus, I managed to get photos of a juvenile N. Mockingbird. We've had several juveniles in our yards this year but they've disappeared every time I've raised a camera.

As you can see, juvenile Mockingbirds have speckling on their throats and chests.

At Home

We've been keeping a hummingbird feeder stocked for weeks now. However, we haven't yet seen a hummer. This isn't really surprising, since our House Finches flock to the feeder as soon as we refill it.

I thought I could foil the Finche
s by removing the perches from the feeder but they've foiled me by learning how to access the sugar water without using perches.

Upsetting News

I've just read a really upsetting news report from England about Goldfinches being captured and then sold as caged singing birds. Apparently north African immigrants like keeping caged songbirds. So they are capturing Goldfinches by putting glue on tree branches. They then place a caged Goldfinch nearby. As Goldfinches are territorial, the "owner" of the local patch soon flies in to check out the intruder - and it gets stuck to the branches. (I remember reading somewhere that this is how Hawai'ians used to catch tens of thousands of songbirds to get the feathers for a chief's ceremonial cloak.)

All this would be bad enough but there is worse. As Goldfinches normally sing only on their own territories, the caged "bait birds" often refuse to sing. The hunters get around this problem by burning out the birds' eyes so that the birds can't tell where they are.

I wonder how many of the exotic birds that are sold as pets in the USA are snared using similarly cruel methods. I suspect it's a lot.

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