Monday, June 14, 2010

Swallow-tails and Pileateds

I tend to tune out the Blue Jays these days. Since their young ones have fledged, there seem to be about twenty of the birds in my yard at all time. Well, I'm exaggerating just a bit. There are probably more like ten, but they are so loud they sound like twenty. Or thirty.

The birds always seem to be raising a ruckus about something, often about the Cooper's Hawk pair that nest in the neighborhood and that frequently hunt in my yard. Well, it is the jays' duty to warn the other birds, so I can't really get mad at them for raising a fuss, but, for me, and maybe even for the birds, they are like the little boy who cried "Wolf!" once to often. After a while, I just tend to ignore them.

So, I wasn't paying much attention when they started their alarm yesterday, but it went on for so long that I finally looked up from my task and saw a beautiful Swallow-tailed Kite lazily circling over my yard. Apparently this lovely creature was the source of the jays' irritation.

Now, kites eat primarily insects and are no danger to the Blue Jays and their chicks or, indeed, to other birds, but, of course, that cut no ice with the jays. The kite is a member of the hawk family and must be repelled - or at least yelled at.

While I was admiring the kite's graceful flight - it seemed oblivious to the noise the jays were making - I happened to glance at the tall pine trees in back of my yard and chanced to see another handsome bird, one that I see even less often than the kites these days. It was a Pileated Woodpecker and it was flying from tree to tree back there in search of insects. It was silent as these birds often are and I would never have realized it was there if I hadn't been looking at the kite.

Today when I was outside, I actually heard the Pileated calling in the neighborhood, but I never saw him. Anyway, I'm satisfied just to know he's around and apparently doing well.

Two rarely seen birds in one day. It was indeed a banner day for bird watching in the old backyard.

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