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Posts tagged ‘Birds’

For the Love of Birds

“Everyone likes birds.  What wild creature is more accessible to our eyes and ears, as close to us and everyone in the world, as universal as a bird?”  David Attenborough

Red Winged Blackbird

Red Winged Blackbird

Birds have always fascinated me.  When I was a kid, I included them whenever I drew a picture, and as a young teen I had one as a pet.  When I moved to Corpus Christi, Texas, in 1980, I was introduced by a good friend to the act of bird watching. Even though I am no longer keeping an active life list, the art of birding is still part of my life, especially when I travel.

As a birder, I do not just watch for birds in the garden or along the road, but I marvel at their beauty and diversity, their colors and songs, their trust if you sit quietly enough so they come out from hiding and share energy and activity with you.  I see the birds as a reminder that life is full of wonder and should be appreciated.  That it is important to sit quietly every once in a while and just become part of nature.  That life is not about me and my to-do list but about slowing down and celebrating the wonders of life, like listening to the birds sing.




Original Angry Bird?

Original Angry Bird?

I have written about birds before whether out in the wild or on display at a zooHummingbirds are especially glorious!  But all birds—from the flamboyant peacock to the common sparrow, from the graceful swan to the chattering bluejay—are worthy of notice. And I always feel lucky if the birds cooperate at all and let me glimpse them in their daily routines.

Here are a few of the birds I have noticed over the years.

Canada Goose Family

Canada Goose Family



Mallard Ducklings

Mallard Ducklings

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

Black Swans

Black Swans

White Pelicans

White Pelicans

California Brown Pelican

California Brown Pelican

Gambel Qualis

Gambel Quails

American Robin

American Robin

Robin Singing on a Log

Robin Singing on a Log

Western Grebe

Western Grebe

Yellow Headed Blackbird

Yellow Headed Blackbird

Acorn Woodpecker

Acorn Woodpecker



California Gull

California Gull

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“I don’t spend that much time being introspective, believe it or not.  All I know is that I grew up not questioning God because that’s how you are.  God was there like the birds and the wind.”  Jane Goodall

“Birds sing after a storm, why shouldn’t people feel as free to delight in whatever sunlight remains to them?”  Rose Kennedy

“Use those talents you have.  You will make it.  You will give joy to the world.  Take this tip from nature.  The woods would be a very silent place if no birds sang except those who sang best.”  Bernard Meltzer

Singing Gambel Quail

Singing Gambel Quail

“I realized that if I had to choose, I would rather have birds than airplanes.”  Charles Lindbergh

“Birds are a miracle because they prove to us there is a finer, simpler state of being which we may strive to attain.”  Douglas Coupland

“Birds are indicators of the environment.  If they are in trouble, we know we’ll soon be in trouble.”  Roger Tory Peterson

“The best thing you can do when you’re not feeling funny is go out and get more stimuli from the world, get out and walk around, read a book, go talk to some birds or a dog and replenish the well, as it were.”  Rob Delaney

“I think people who don’t believe in God are crazy.  How can you say there is no God when you hear the birds singing these beautiful songs you didn’t make?”  Little Richard

“When the moon covers the sun, we have a solar eclipse.  What do you call it when birds do that?”  Kim Young-ha

“I hope you love birds too.  It is economical.  It saves going to heaven.”  Emily Dickinson

“I never for a day gave up listening to the songs of our birds, or watching their peculiar habits, or delineating them in the best way I could.”  John James Audubon

“There is nothing in which the birds differ more from man than the way in which they can build and yet leave a landscape as it was before.”  Robert Lynd

“Did St. Francis preach to the birds?  Whatever for?  If he really liked birds he would have done better to preach to the cats.”  Rebeca West

“No bird soars too high if he soars with his own wings.”  William Blake

“In order to see birds it is necessary to become part of the silence.”  Robert Lynd

“A bird does not sing because it has an answer; it sings because it has a song.”  Maya Angelou

“Keep a green tree in your heart, and perhaps the singing bird will come.”  Chinese Proverb

“We have flown the air like birds and swum the seas like fishes, but we have yet to learn the simple act of walking the earth like brothers.”  Martin Luther King, Jr.

“Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly.”  Langston Hughes

“Did you ever see an unhappy horse?  Did you ever see a bird that had the blues?  One reason why birds and horses are not unhappy is because they are not trying to impress other birds and horses.”  Dale Carnegie

“Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings.”  Salvador Dali

“You have to believe in happiness, or happiness never comes.  Ah, that’s the reason a bird can sing.  On his darkest day he believes in spring.”  Douglas Malloch

“It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird; it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg.  We are like eggs at present.  And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg.  We much be hatched or go bad.”  C. S. Lewis

“I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself.  A small bird will drop frozen from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself.”  D. H. Lawrence

“Accept that some days you are the pigeon, and some days you are the statue.”  David Brent

“Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy.  They don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us.  That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”  Harper Lee

“To stand at the edge of the sea, to sense the ebb and the flow of the tides, to feel the breath of a mist moving over a great salt marsh, to watch the flight of shore birds that have swept up and down the surf lines of the continents for untold thousands of years, to see the running of the old eels and the young shad to the sea, is to have knowledge of things that are as nearly eternal as any earthly thing can be.”  Rachel Carson

“God gives every bird its food, but He does not throw it into the nest.”  J. G. Holland

“It’s a good thing we have gravity, or else when birds died they’d just stay right up there.  Hunters would be all confused.”  Steven Wright

This post is my contribution to the WordPress Photo a Week Challege: Birds.

Soaring Red Tail Hawk

Soaring Red Tail Hawk

Amazing Facts about Animals & Birds

I like animals of all kinds.  I like learning new things.  When someone says they have information that could be categorized as weird, strange or odd, I tend to think fun, fascinating or incredible.  Not surprisingly, I loved stumbling onto a website that presents lists of amazing and strange facts about birds and animals.  What was more surprising was that I knew many, many  facts already. Since the facts I collected into my own list amazed and amused me, I thought I would share.

A MOLE can dig a tunnel 300 feet long in just one night! That’s roughly the length of a football field.  BTW:  A mole is about 6 inches long.

PORCUPINES float in water.

squirrelI am most used to seeing SQUIRRELS running on the ground or along a tree branch.  In reality, squirrels can jump a distance up to 20 feet because of their long muscular hind legs and shorter front legs.  If they somehow miss on the jump, they can fall 100 feet without getting hurt because their bushy tails offer balance and act like a parachute.

A HEDGEHOG’S heart beats 300 times a minute on average!

A CROCODILE always grows new teeth to replace the old teeth. But it still cannot stick its tongue out.

ELEPHANTS are the only animals that can’t jump.  Of course, I cannot imagine why they would want to, especially since they can have so much fun just running and frolicking in the waves.

AMERICAN BUFFALO weigh about 50 pounds when they are born but grow to weigh between 1,000 pounds (females) and 2,000 pounds (males).  Both males and females have horns and stand roughly six feet tall. Although in common usage, the terms buffalo and bison are interchangeable, in exact biological terms American Buffalo are really Bison.  Ooops.  Let’s hope the Senate does not hear about this as they may waste time renaming the “Buffalo Nickle.”


flamingo baby & momFLAMINGOS are large beautiful pink birds.  The deep rich color comes from their diet.  When first born, the chicks are fluffy and dark gray for many months.  They keep the dark gray color longer than they keep the small straight bills they are born with.  Within a few months, the bills develop the curve that is characteristic of adult flamingos. These gorgeous birds flock together in huge numbers.  When they fly as a group, they can reach speeds up to 35 miles per hour.  But they most often stay on the ground in large flocks called a flamboyance. How appropriate!  BTW: Pink plastic lawn flamingos were developed by Don Featherstone of Massachusetts and have been gracing lawns since 1957.

a flamboyance of flamingos

The POISON-ARROW FROG has enough poison to kill about 2,200 people.

A SNAIL can sleep for three years.

The world’s TERMITES outweigh the world’s humans 10 to 1.

gorillaface frontKoko is the name of the gorilla that learned sign language and helped teach some signs to a few other gorillas.  Most GORILLAS communicate through grunts, coughs, hoots, facial expressions, body gestures, and posturing.  Makes sense that they are seen as close relatives to humans.  Each gorilla also has unique fingerprints just like humans.  But humans do not have unique nose prints as gorillas do.

CAMELS have three eyelids to protect themselves from blowing sand! They also are known to spit quite far—and with decent accuracy. 

BEARS are remarkable creatures. They often appear cuddly but in reality can be quite fierce. Some have huge front claws that can be almost five inches long.  They have been known to eat almost anything from nuts and berries to snowmobile seats, engine oil, and rubber boots.  A bear’s normal heartbeat is about 40 beats per minute.  A hibernating bear’s heart rate drops to only 8 beats per minute.  There is no record how many beats a minute are produced when a bear is just napping.

bear nap

canda gooseA group of GEESE on the ground is a gaggle; a group of geese in the air is a skein. But a goose by itself is still just a goose or maybe a lone duck. 

barn owlBARN OWLS share many traits with all the other owls in the world.  Unlike other owls, however, barn owls do not hoot; instead their sound can be best described as a hiss or a snort.  Barn owls also have the ability to locate their prey by sound alone.  Their ears are positioned in such a way—one higher than the other—that the sounds can actually pinpoint an exact ground level location. Their heart-shaped facial disc works like a radar disc and helps reflect sounds to the ears.  They are also very pretty!

I love seeing BROWN PELICANS as they fly overhead or sit on a post by the seashore.  Their most daring feat, however, is when they dive 20 to 30 feet into the water to scoop fish into their pouch.  The air sacs placed under the front of their bodies offer Brown Pelicans protection against the force of hitting the water’s surface from such a height. Their webbed pouch expands to hold the captured fish and up to three gallons of water.  Once the water is drained out, they eat the fish in one gulp.

OSTRICHES are large powerful birds than can run really fast (30 mph extended and 45 mph sprint) and have a powerful kick (2,000 pounds per square inch, more than twice an elite boxer’s kick, enough to kill a man or a lion).  An ostrich egg can weigh up to 3 pounds—that’s equivalent to about 24 chicken eggs.  It is reported that sometimes when an ostrich with young meets another ostrich with young, the parents fight.  The winner takes all the offspring.  That’s quite a play date!


ostrich at carOnce, when visiting a drive-thru wildlife park that lets visitors feed the animals from the car, I ended up with an ostrich beak in my face, peeking around looking for the bucket of food.  They are fast—this one bolted its head into the car before I could get the window rolled up.  My nephews laughed a lot, but I did not think it was very funny.  That ostrich kept watching us skeptically from that moment on—even though it had all our food.  (I threw the bucket out the window!)

On average, people fear SPIDERS more than they do death. But spiders actually serve a great service by eating other insects.  Since there are close to 50,000 species of spiders, just think how many creepy crawling things would be in our fields and streets and homes if spiders were not there to eat them. Also, you are more likely to be killed by a champagne cork than by a POISONOUS SPIDER.  Thank goodness champagne is more likely to be found at a party than a poisonous spider.

dolphin helloDOLPHINS see through their ears using echo-location.  This sonar function is far superior to the bat’s sonar or human-made sonar devices.  With its sonar, dolphins can distinguish between types of fish and size differences as little as a quarter inch.  They are also social animals that frequently interact with humans in the wild, often with the dolphin helping the humans.  Dolphins are some of the most intelligent animals on the planet.  Scientists measure intelligence by the number of folds evident on a brain.  Dolphin brains are even more folded and convoluted than humans.

Dolphins have also learned to understand as many as 60 words, which can be used in up to 2000 sentences.  As Carl Sagan says, “It is of interest to note that while some dolphins are reported to have learned English – up to fifty words used in correct context – no human being has been reported to have learned dolphinese.”

A HIPPO can open its mouth wide enough to fit a 4 foot tall child inside! But I am not going to ask it to demonstrate. 

hummingbidA HUMMINGBIRD weighs less than a penny!

gullsI was first introduced to LAUGHING GULLS when I lived in South Texas.  Their calls do indeed sound like hysterical laughter.  No one could ever quite figure out what they were laughing at.  Personally, I think it has something to do with them observing humans all day at the beach and around town.

summer beach scene

Nose prints are used to identify DOGS, just like humans use fingerprints! But most times you do not have to check for nose prints to know whose smudges are on the window.

dog nose smudge

That’s my list.  What trivia tidbits about animals can you share? 

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We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals. Immanuel Kant

Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened. Anatole France

In order to keep a true perspective of one’s importance, everyone should have a dog that will worship him and a cat that will ignore him.  Dereke Bruce

I care not for a man’s religion whose dog and cat are not the better for it.Abraham Lincoln

Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace.Albert Schweitzer

If having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.  James Herriot

The animals of the planet are in desperate peril. Without free animal life I believe we will lose the spiritual equivalent of oxygen.  Alice Walker

Any glimpse into the life of an animal quickens our own and makes it so much the larger and better in every way.  John Muir

What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, man would die from a great loneliness of spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected.     Chief Seattle

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.  Mahatma Ghandi

Our task must be to free ourselves… by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.  Albert Einstein

I don’t believe in the concept of hell, but if I did I would think of it as filled with people who were cruel to animals.  Gary Larson

Man is the only Animal that blushes. Or needs to.  Mark Twain

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