Close Encounters of the Bird Kind

DB usually stands for Dearly Beloved, but I may have to change it to Dodo Bird, because anyone who plays golf in this oppressive heat has to be NUTS.  He comes home soaked with sweat, dripping so much that he has to strip in the laundry room before he comes in any further.  There is something about the sight of a naked man bragging about his clubhead speed. . . well, never mind.  Don’t go there if you don’t have to.

I had planned to spend the week here at the beach-house-not-on-the-beach looking for my lost mojo, but that idea melted in the July heat, so I read two books and knitted a little.  I did a search, however, but it turned out to be one for the birds.

This is a complicated tale.

My bird identification skills and my general inattention to detail prove  that “birder” is not my life calling.  A few weeks ago, when a friend sent a picture of a small bird and wanted help identifying it, my vote was “escaped parakeet.”

It was a fledging bluebird, the Birders said.

Swans swim in several of the ponds around our neighborhood.  A swan trio particularly intrigues me.  A neighbor told me that the mate of one of the females was killed.  The widowed swan lives with another pair by a pond very near the main road into our neighborhood.  There is something very touching about the relationship. They are always together and if an intruder gets too near, the male flaps his wings and makes ferocious noises–definitely expletives.

Sometimes they venture across the divided road to check out the front yards of the houses nearby.

Just outside our neighborhood, behind the strip mall with the Food Lion and the furniture store, is another pond, this one fenced since it is an alleyway back there.  I use that route sometimes as a cut-through when I drive to the Kangaroo Express to pick up a newspaper.  On my last trip, two very large ducks sat placidly on the pond bank–totally white except for their completely red, bumpy and rather grotesque heads.  They looked like they were wearing turkey masks.  The closest likeness I can find on the internet are Muscovy ducks.  I’m glad they found each other.

Back home, I settled in to read my newspaper and glanced out the window at a bird perched on the back of one of the lounge chairs.  Surely a cardinal, but there was something strange about it….  My powers of observation being what they are, it took awhile to analyze the oddity:  it had a black head.

All of these incidents happened during our last trip here.  This time I resolved to keep my camera with me and take pictures, doing an oddball bird blog post, not including the Dodo Bird, of course.  It was not to be.  When I rode behind the Food Lion,  the red-headed white ducks had vanished.   Too bad.  I’d planned to let them share the box of cereal I’d just bought if they’d allow me to take their picture.

The swans, although always on site, are not that easy to photograph.  They ignore the cars which ride by, but if someone stops the car near their grassy bank, even 20 feet away,  the male swan rises into attack mode.  I didn’t have to be told twice.  I took a few photos from the stop sign up the street, not daring to venture further.

One of the first things I always do when we arrive at the beach, after the initial race to the bathroom,  is check the back garden.   This time I ran out to see if any of the figs had ripened, this being the first time it has borne fruit.   As I approached, I was startled when the cardinal with the black head flew from under one of the large sticky leaves. He didn’t fly away, but hovered close to me,  as if  scolding me for interrupting his snack time.  I flapped my arms and shooed him away, then picked every ripe fig I could find.  From the number of stems with bits of fruit attached, so had he.

When I Googled red birds with black heads to make sure it WAS a cardinal, I found this link.

That’s the bird!   I had assumed it was a cardinal, but some of the comments confused me.   Someone named Mary Beth said the bird was probably embarrassed by his looks.  Someone else said his condition was caused by parasites.

I had rejected the poor thing and denied him food without giving any thought to his mental state.  The birders would be shocked.

The black-headed redbird (sounds like he needs an ornithologic dermatologist!) has avoided our yard ever since, probably lying on the psychiatric couch of a wise old owl somewhere.  I have spent the week lurking around with my camera to no avail.

Today, however, after I put away my camera in preparation to leave, Darth Vader bird returned to sit on the deck chair to watch us pack.  When we return next time, I will probably find a tree filled with fig stems and,  if he is really vengeful, underneath  the lounge chair on the deck will be a patchwork of poop.  Figs are a high-fiber food.

I have invited my neighbor friend to pick any ripened fruit.  She’s on her own with any bird confrontations.

The rest of our eating garden consists of one basil plant,  two tomato plants,  and a trellis of scarlet runner beans, the latter planted mostly for the bees and hummingbirds.  The big green tomatoes on my tomato plants, however,  are going back to Charlotte with us.

Dodo Birds LOVE fried green tomatoes!

On the bank.swans 004

On the bank and on the march.

2 thoughts on “Close Encounters of the Bird Kind

  1. Ok I am a birder and I keep hoping and hoping that You will show me this red bird with the black head…
    Darn it picture..
    I must see this weird bird..but my thought is also cardinal…but I have never seen them with black head..
    so I would love to show the photo to all my birdie friends….ha

    anyway..yes u were probably right on the Muscovoy ducks..wierd looking things.

    Ok and your husband dripping with sweat and the club reference and well..mojo..hee hee..

    You are one silly gal..
    cheers..and happy birding!:)

  2. cw

    Only you could make watching those birds a fun experience! lolol .. and that’s talent!!:)

    Oh, and maybe DB has your MOJO in his clubhead?? yeeeowwwwwwwwwwwww!!!:):)

    (forgive me, it’s early here in xxxx and I just couldn’t resist ‘going there’!!:):):) )

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