Monday, April 1, 2013

April Fools!

Today I was out in my yard looking for caterpillars. I've been watching a batch of  Pipevine Swallowtail caterpillars grow for about a week now (more on that soon). My bird feeders are in the front yard where the caterpillars live, and when I'm out there, the birds all scatter. The Carolina Wrens always seem to be especially annoyed at me, and I could hear them scolding from the bushes. They have chicks out scavenging now and the family is really hungry! The White Winged Doves watched me warily from the branches of the Ash Trees and I could hear the peeps of Goldfinches from somewhere overhead. They wanted me out of there. Then I heard the call of a Red Shouldered Hawk. Our neighborhood is full of raptors. They like to perch in the pine trees and occasionally pick off unsuspecting doves from our feeder. Several times now I've seen the -poof!- of feathers as they hit their target. They move so fast! The other day I saw a Swallow Tailed Kite over the house, and soon the Mississippi Kites should be back to set up their nests across the street. We get Osprey and Eagles flying over, too. So, basically, I wasn't surprised to hear a hawk call. But as I scanned the pine trees to see where this bird was, maybe to get a good photo, I heard the call again. I was able to hone in on the sound and narrowed it down to the leaves of the Live Oak Tree, where the Blue Jays nest. I'd been tricked again by those rascals! They get me every time. I had a hunch that it was a Blue Jay, but I had to check anyway. "Ha Ha, Made You Look!"  The birding literature says that Blue Jays frequently mimic the calls of hawks, possibly to warn other birds that there are hawks in the area, or possibly to scare other birds away, say, from the bird feeder. I don't know if they actually fake out other birds, but it's a pretty good trick for people. In this case, the joke's on me! Touché, Blue Jay!

Bluejay, The Trickster

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