The dance of the urban birds — or: Counting crows, and hawks, and sparrows . . .


See world

Twitty of Como reports another close encounter of the natural kind: “It was the five crows that caught my eye: four on the ground, milling around the base of my maple, looking like they were eating something from the ground, and another on the ground about 20 feet away, just observing them. Oh, and there was a sixth perched on a limb about 20 feet up in the maple. Hadn’t spotted him at first. He looked like he also was an observer.


“But wait — that one isn’t a crow, it’s a hawk! A Cooper’s Hawk, to be exact, and he wasn’t bothered the least by the crows, who I now realized were probably baiting him. No, he was watching my feeders.

“The crows got bored after a bit, and when they left, the hawk glided down and landed on the ground under a suet feeder. He stood quietly on long yellow legs and began peering under a bush. A crow landed nearby and advanced to within five feet or so, but the hawk paid him no mind. Suddenly he ran forward in the general direction of the crow, startling both of us, but veering at the last second into the brush. The crow flew off. I could still see the tail feathers of the Cooper’s Hawk under the bushes, standing perfectly still. Then he ran forward again, disappearing into thicker underbrush. Out from the other side of the bush flew a sparrow, speeding to a higher perch across the yard. Seconds later, out came the hawk, heading in the same direction. I watched till both flew out of sight.

“Exciting times in the city!”

Our birds, ourselves

Wayne Nelson of Forest Lake: “Subject: BIRDS OF A FEATHER.

“While in the Minocqua and Boulder Junction area in Wisconsin last week my wife, and I visited the Northwoods Wildlife Center. We took a short tour of their facility to see a few of the wild birds that could not be released back into the wild because of various injuries or disabilities. I was able to capture a couple of clear pictures of two different birds that fall into that category. Most people never get to see up close what these birds really look like. I hope that the readers will enjoy looking at these pictures of two amazing birds — one being a Turkey Vulture (a face only a mother could love) and the other a beautiful Peregrine Falcon.”




This just in, from Pro From Dover:

“I suppose you may have a half-dozen comments already about Wayne Nelson‘s missive. The second bird pictured is NOT a peregrine falcon, but is an American kestrel (a.k.a. sparrow hawk). Quite a difference in size and look, but both are indeed beautiful birds.”

Our flora, ourselves (responsorial)

Aggie Girl: “Subject: Hydrangeas.

“In regards to Mounds View Swede‘s question about the same soil producing two different color blooms:

“Some varieties of hydrangea actually change colors with age — new blossoms are blue/purple (presuming the soil was acidic enough to begin with), older blooms turn pink, and some even turn white before they die. So if the blooms were on the same plant, it could be one of those varieties. If they were on different plants, it could simply be different varieties of plant — some hydrangeas have pink blooms no matter the soil acidity. Or it could just be nature doing whatever it wants, with no regard to what it is ‘supposed’ to do.

“Keep the great pictures coming!”

What’s in a name?
Or: Gaining something in translation?

Bill of Lake St. Croix Beach: “Subject: Foreign candy bars?

“Last Sunday, we visited one of the wonderful apple orchards in southern Washington County. It was so packed with families that we had to search for a parking space. As we were waiting in line to board a tractor-pulled wagon ride, I noticed several people speaking in a foreign language. Always curious, I asked them what language they were speaking. The younger man said it was Hungarian, and that his wife’s parents were visiting from Budapest.

“As we rode with them on the wagon, the younger man handed his father-in-law a Snickers bar. I asked that they call a Snickers in Hungarian.

“He said: ‘It’s called a Snickers.’

“Sometimes you never know until you ask.”

Could be verse!

Doris Day: “A little something taken from  Milwaukee Talk, a pamphlet from the 1950s:

“‘I give to you a violet

“‘In token of I’m glad we met.

“‘I hope we may already yet

“‘Once more again together get.'”

Our theater of seasons

The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “That wicked hail storm decimated the hostas and damaged all the buds in my flower garden this summer, making it my worst flower garden ever.

“I feared for my Christmas cactus, which was out in the garden for its summer outing  —but instead, I think it just scared the blooms right out of it.  The buds started forming in early September, and here it is now — celebrating its 40th birthday (and Halloween) in grand style.”


Marie of North Branch, Minnesota: “When we lived in Wisconsin, I could look out my kitchen window into the woods. I was wondering what that orange color was out there — and when I investigated, I found this beautiful Jack O’Lantern mushroom. Thought you might enjoy this picture in time for Halloween.”


The vision thing (responsorial)

Stinky Bananalips of Empire, Minnesota: “Friendly Bob’s story about the free chicken/free checking sign did two things: made me think of chickens with free checking accounts . . . and what would they buy? My first job in high school was as a bank teller, and while I waited on some chicken farmers, I never waited on any actual chickens. We did have a supply of dog biscuits and suckers at the drive-up for people with pets or kids in their cars. I suppose there could be hipsters out there taking their chickens along on their errands nowadays . . .

“And it reminded me of the other day, while I was at physical therapy for my shoulder: There are framed words of encouragement on the wall in a fancy scrawly script, and I read one as ‘You are stranger than you think’ and thought ‘How do they know?’ Then I realized that it’s actually ‘You are stronger than you think,’ which, for a PT clinic, makes a lot more sense.

“Astigmatism makes my life more interesting, that’s for sure!”

Our times
Or: The highfalutin annoyances

Kathy S. of St. Paul: “Subject: Robocalls R Us.

“I’ve been getting many automated calls lately, and was woken up by one at 8:11 a.m. today. Yesterday they started at 8:12 a.m.

“I knew the interruptions had become extreme when I resolved to get to bed earlier tonight, so I won’t be woken up by the first call tomorrow.”

A thought for today

From Tim Torkildson: “Subject: Love.

“If you listen to love, you’ll never have prudence; if you listen to prudence, you’ll never have love.”

Band Name of the Day: The Faces Only a Mother Could Love

Website of the Day, from The Divine Mum of Crocus Hill: “Subject: I was born with ‘fanny pack.’

“Fun site to check out:”

BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: We were born with “doomsayer” and “whoopee cushion.” Tragedy and comedy — our two life-long companions.


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