Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Pinyon Jay. Bird Songs. Lewis’s Woodpecker. Thick-billed Parrot. Aggravations.

Pinyon Jay

Pinyon Jay by Alan Wilson

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"This small, crestless, blue-gray jay is highly social, forming enduring flocks of 250-500 individuals. Pinyon Jays breed cooperatively and seldom stray far from the areas where they were hatched. They feed mainly on pine nuts, which they store in the fall and eat during winter and spring. Local populations vary from year to year with the success of the nut crop.

Pinyon Jays have excellent memories, which give them an uncanny ability to relocate their food stores months after caching them. Nevertheless, there is always a proportion of the nuts that they don't find, and so their seed-caching behavior is important for the regeneration of pinyon woodlands.

Destruction and degradation of this habitat through cattle grazing, fire suppression, logging, and suburban development has caused steep declines in Pinyon Jay populations over the past four decades. Mortality due to West Nile virus has also been recorded.

For more on how ABC is helping protect habitat to benefit Pinyon Jays and other priority U.S. bird species, click here.

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Listen to a two-minute broadcast on this bird."


Bird Songs

"The vocal ability of birds has inspired poets and musicians, from Chaucer to Wordsworth, from Handel to Respighi. Birdsong can be a natural phenomenon of intense beauty. But our enjoyment is incidental to the main purpose, which is one bird communicating with others. Birds became the world's master musicians in order to convey to potential mates, rivals and predators all the important things they have to say, from "Clear off!" to "Come on!"

And their songs have been shaped by their environment, just as the rap musician of New York delivers a different "tune" to the yodeler in the Swiss mountains. The musical detail would have impressed the great composers. The nightingale, for example, holds up to 300 different love songs in his repertoire. The canary may take 30 mini-breaths a second to replenish its air supply. The cowbird uses 40 different notes, some so high we can't hear them. The chaffinch may sing his song half a million times in a season.

Indeed, British musician David Hindley slowed bird song down and discovered parallels between the skylark's blizzard of notes and Beethoven's Fifth Symphony; between the woodlark's mind-numbingly complex song and J.S.Bach's 48 Preludes and Fugues. It changes its tune according to the rules of classical sonata form.


Song allows the bird to "speak" better than and other family of creatures. It is the perfect medium for communicating over long distances, or when it is hard to see the singer - and the audience: for example at night or in dense vegetation.

Whatever the habitat, birds have a way of singing into it. When a bird sings, it can always be heard, even after it has moved out of sight. Sound travels in all directions; it can penetrate through or around objects.

But how do birds produce such a complex variety of notes? How do they sing non-stop for minutes on end without pausing to catch their breath?

The vocal skill of birds derive from the unusual structure of their powerful vocal equipment. The syrinx is the sound-producing organ in birds. It is the equivalent of the human sound box. The syrinx contains membranes which vibrate and generate sound waves when air from the lungs is passed over them. The muscles of the syrinx control the details of song production; birds with more elaborate system of vocal muscles produce more complex songs.

But unlike our soundbox, which is situated at the top of the trachea, the bird's syrinx is set much lower down, at the junction of the two bronchi or air tubes leading to the lungs.

This means that the syrinx has two potential sound sources, one in each bronchus. The separate membranes on each bronchus produce separate sounds, which are then mixed when fed into the higher vocal tract. This complex design means that birds can produce a far greater variety of sounds than humans can.

Birds give the impression of singing in long bursts for minutes on end without catching their breath. But they actually do this by taking a series of shallow mini-breaths, which are synchronized with each syllable they sing.

However, birds must work hard to get their particular message across. There is a lot of competition in the avian choir."

Part 1. By Gareth Huw Davies



Thick-billed Parrot

"This Bird News Network (BNN) video by American Bird Conservancy ( includes some amazing footage of the Thick-billed Parrot taken by Greg Homel, Natural Elements Productions.

The video discusses several recent conservation successes to help boost populations of this endangered species that may one day be reintroduced back into the United States where it once lived in Arizona."




Lewis’s Woodpeckers

"Forget politics.  Forget American Idol.  Your vote today can help us win a competition to fund bird conservation! Two minutes of your time will help ABC protect Lewis’s Woodpeckers and their habitat.

American Bird Conservancy has developed a program to support the conservation of cavity-nesting birds in the Pacific Northwest, in particular the Lewis’s Woodpecker, one of the highest priority species in the region. We are working with many partners to implement the work, but this year you can help. We are currently in a competition with several other projects for funding from the Zoo Boise Conservation Fund that requires on-line voting during the month of October to identify a winner. Your efforts to help us “get out the vote” could make all the difference for this important project.

Learn more about the project and cast your vote to win funding for the Lewis’s Woodpecker project, then tell your friends and help us get even more votes!
Thank you in advance for your help,
Bob Altman
Northern Pacific Rainforest BCR Coordinator
American Bird Conservancy

Voting takes less than five minutes.
Please share this broadly and thanks in advance for your help.
Voting closes October 28.



Just local aggravations!   I won't bore you with the details.

There Was a Little Girl,  - Who Had a Little Curl - Mama Lisa's House of English Nursery Rhymes, Intro Image

Jay is like: "There was a little girl who had a curl, right in the middle of her forehead…when she was good she was very, very good, and when she was bad she was horrid."  By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 1807–1882.    You just have to catch him when he is good.

His mother said that he had been disturbing her all evening and into the night,  so she locked him out at 3.00 AM, and made him go over to his house.  He couldn't even remember what he had done during the night.   So when Misty and I went to pick him up to work, we left him there.  He just makes mistakes when he is like that, and it has to be done over.


We are all behind, but no work was done on the cargo trailer.  Now that it is back from the welder with the bumper straightened, we have a lot to to do.  Will it ever get done!


When will I learn that 'no good deed goes unpunished'?   Roni, the nuisance gal down the street, had been calling me for the last couple of weeks as to when I would be going into town because she has something to mail at the Post Office.  She called again yesterday morning, and said it was some comforting pages for a person who had had a stoke.   I thought that I would drive the quick 4 miles to the new Kroger's to get some more veggies to run through my juicer, and so I said I would take her. 

That turned into another "Roni-fiasco".   What should have been a 30 minute trip turned into 2 futile, and embarrassing hours!  Even the big envelope didn't get mailed.

When will I learn not to do anything for Roni….I couldn't wait to get her out of my van again.

The hot weather is over, it went down to 50° during the night, and the high is supposed to be 70° today.

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