May 9, 2013

Cat Tales: No, they’re not bobble head dolls

LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — I have two large bird feeders with suet cages on two sides of each feeder at my house.

One feeder is at the side of the house where the carport is so that I can watch birds through a full-length glass storm door. I had put in the glass door several years ago so that the cats could watch birds. The other bird feeder is in the back of the house under an apple tree. I can see the birds in back through a double kitchen window.

A couple of Saturdays ago I heard unusual bird noises outside. I thought a chicken hawk was in the area and had frightened the birds. When I went to the storm door to scare the hawk away, there were two blue jays making a quivering call and jumping up and down. They looked just like two bobble head dolls. They had their feet firmly around the limbs but they were jumping up and down, shouting, and bobbing their heads. They would do this for a few seconds, then they would stop and look around. Then they would start and stop again and look around. I laughed and watched for several minutes until the two birds finally flew away. I assumed they were males and the noise and the weird movements were to attract females, but the ritual must of not worked because I didn’t see any blue jays come toward them.

I see all kinds of birds at my feeders including blue jays, tufted titmice, a red-bellied woodpecker, black-capped chickadees, red-winged blackbirds, mockingbirds, a red-headed woodpecker, European starlings, a pair of Eastern bluebirds, wrens, sparrows, downy woodpeckers, cardinals, an Eastern Towhee, and white-breasted nuthatches. The mourning doves eat the seeds that fall to the ground from the feeders.                    

I have a dwarf Mutsu apple tree in the backyard that has had over three dozen mourning doves in it a one time. For some reason they think they own that tree.

At work a couple of Fridays ago my co-worker Nita spotted two birds building a nest in a tree next to the Sentinel-Echo’s building. She came and got me and we watched two mourning doves from a window inside the building. One dove, a male I assumed, would fly out of the nest to go get a twig and when it flew back, it would land on the back of the bird in the nest, probably a female, and gingerly give her the twig from around her shoulders. She would then arrange it in the nest like she wanted it while the male would fly away to get another twig.

At one point the male was bringing back twigs faster than the female could weave them in her nest, so the male laid the twigs at the edge of the nest. After a couple of minutes I went back to work, but when I left work that evening, I looked out the window to see how far along the next was coming, and both birds were gone. I thought they had just left to find food, but when I came back to work on Monday, they still hadn’t come back. I guess they didn’t like it where they were and they went somewhere else to build their nest. I thought it awfully strange to see two mourning doves in the middle of town. I was hoping to see them finish the nest, to watch the mother incubate the eggs, to watch the babies crack through their shells, and to see the mother feed her young. It just wasn’t meant to be.


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Now that school is out, what are your family’s summer vacation plans?

A. No major plans. We will probably hang out around Laurel County.
B. Going to the beach!
C. Kentucky has a lot of wonderful state parks, and we plan to visit a few and enjoy quality family time.
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