Thursday, September 30, 2010

Portrait of a worried dad

This male Lesser Goldfinch has every reason to look worried. He and his mate have a very late nest in the plum tree by our patio, so when I heard an unusual amount of mewing and chipping out there I went outside to see what was going on. The goldfinches were eyeing a Curve-billed Thrasher making its way through the thick foliage toward the nest. Our thrashers don't miss many meals, so I didn't feel too guilty distracting it with a few harsh words ("Hey! I hear your sister is dating a starling!") and convincing it to leave. The finches stayed exactly where they were, still on high alert. Probably not a good idea to go straight back to a nest when the predator might still be watching.

Stokes Field Guide to Bird Songs: Western RegionLesser Goldfinches are one of those those birds whose voices are so delicate that even their harshest calls lay as sweetly on the ear as a song. More sweetly than their own songs, in fact, since these consist largely of other birds' calls. One of our neighborhood males sings rapid-fire songs that consist mainly of flycatcher calls: Ash-throated, Brown-crested, Vermilion, Say's Phoebe, Cassin's Kingbird, Western Kingbird, Western Wood-Pewee. A male that lives in Miller Canyon does a great impression of the "rubber duck" call of the Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher. The phrases go by so fast that the bird may be four or five species further along by the time you can say, "Hey, wasn't that a...?" --SW

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