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Birdwatching of a Different Kind

6/12/2009 3:50:42 PM

Tags: nature, birds, spring

A photo of Brenda KippIn the last few weeks, I have been entertained by a bevy of birds both at work and in my backyard.

Late spring in Kansas is the time of year I see baby birds old enough to try out their wings, but still young enough to rely on their mothers as a source of food.  I was on the phone with my aunt the other day and something in the back yard caught my eye. On closer inspection, I could see it was a baby robin. I wondered where the mother was. About that time, I saw a female robin hop through the bushes. The baby robin fluttered over to her and opened its mouth. Mama robin obliged by pecking at the ground and coming up with some nourishment to put in her offspring’s mouth. I felt sorry for the little one when the mother flew over the fence and the baby couldn’t fly over or squeeze through. The pair was eventually reunited.

A few weeks earlier, I had the back door open, enjoying the beautiful spring temperatures. Even from the front of the house, I could hear a wren chattering. Wrens have a melodious song that I never get tired of hearing, but they also have a scolding chatter. I went to see what the commotion was all about. I saw a male sparrow sitting on the perch of the wren house, thus blocking the entrance, and the wren was in the tree scolding the sparrow. I pounded on the screen door and the sparrow flew away. Minutes later, I heard the wren chattering again. I went to look and that darn sparrow had returned to the wren’s perch! I pounded on the screen door again and the sparrow flew away. This scene played out two more times before the sparrow gave up and went on his merry way. Once the wren flew after the sparrow, but broke off its pursuit and returned to the wren house.

This wasn’t the first time I’d seen a sparrow do this. Last year I witnessed the same scenario. About the time I was going to pound on the screen door, however, a robin swooped down and scared the sparrow away. I’m sure the wren was grateful to the robin for coming to its rescue, but I have no doubt that in spite of its size, the wren could have handled the situation on its own. 

 I’m beginning to wonder if each spring the sparrows are attempting a hostile takeover of the wren house, but they should have learned from one of their predecessors that the opening is too small for them (besides, they’re not cavity dwellers). I can remember my dad having to rescue a sparrow who had its head stuck in the opening of the wren house.

wrenweb 

When I’m out doing yard work, it gives me the opportunity to observe birds more closely or hear calls I wouldn’t normally hear in the house. Once when I was cutting off flowers that had already bloomed, I noticed a robin had been hanging around. After I finished and sat back, the robin came over into the dirt, pecked at the ground, extracted a juicy worm and promptly swallowed it.

Recently, I’ve been able to observe birds of a different feather at work. The editors of Mother Earth News, one of our magazines here at Ogden Publications, have been trying out a new incubator. Over 200 eggs of different varieties were ordered from hatcheries in Ohio, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Texas and placed in the incubator. We not only have a variety of chickens – Babcock Browns, Golden Comets, Dominiques, Rhode Island Reds, Buff Orpingtons and White Silkies – we also have ducks and quail.   

chickweb 

Each day more and more eggs hatch and they are transferred to the make-shift “nursery” (a cardboard box with a heat lamp). The box doesn’t stay occupied for long though. Several of my co-workers have taken chicks home. I would love to take some of them home myself, but my current living situation isn’t conducive to having chickens.

I never thought I wanted chickens, but the longer I work here, the more I learn about the benefits of owning chickens. Now I’m interested in learning more about the different breeds and which ones would suit my needs. Thanks to some of my co-workers, this city girl (I’m really a country girl at heart) is learning about more than just the birds in her backyard.

Are you a birdwatcher? Do you have chickens? I’d love to hear about your experiences with birds.



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Post a comment below.

 

Taylor Miller
7/28/2009 9:03:45 AM
Brenda - you should totally MAKE your living situation conducive to chicken-raising, or at the very least, raising quails! They're super easy to keep, and while they are messy, it's fun to see them run around like little velociraptors!

Brenda Kipp_1
6/17/2009 3:21:25 PM
Yes, Maryellen, there's never a dull moment at Ogden! I feel blessed to work in such a animal-friendly work place. By the time I do get my chickens, I should be an expert! Thanks again for sending the pics of your Snowy-girl!!

Brenda Kipp_1
6/17/2009 3:18:02 PM
I love the quote you ended with, Dave. I haven't given up hope of having a country lifestyle. I can learn, plan and dream, so when it becomes a reality, I should be an expert!

Maryellen
6/17/2009 8:04:08 AM
Great article Brenda! I totally enjoyed your story. Lucky for you to have baby chicks at work! How much fun is it to go to work everyday to see the chicks progress? Fun, I bet?! It's really nice to know Ogden has a hands-on approach to educate the staff and Ogden audience about the joys and satisfaction of raising poultry. Sorry to hear you cant raise chickens in your present living situation. Are ya sure you couldnt just sneak in one ittsy, bittsy chick at home? Nothin' like fresh eggs for breakfast!!!

Nebraska Dave
6/14/2009 12:07:01 PM
Brenda, I am really not a bird watcher per se’ but on occasion I do watch the birds as they play in the sprinkler when I water my yard. I do get a chuckle out of the Robins that can gobble up a huge worm in the twinkling of an eye. I often times wonder just how they can eat such a large worm. I guess that I’m more of bird listener. Waking up in the morning with birds singing through the open window is such a soothing way to start the day. There’s just something about the melodious chirping of birds. It’s almost like they are bringing the new day to life. Our greatest claim to fame here in Nebraska is the great crane migration. People from hundreds of miles around come to witness the massive amount of cranes as they rest in a certain wet lands while passing through our state on their migration journey. I’ve never seen the great yearly event, but those that have say it’s truly awe inspiring. I am a city dweller with a farm boy heart. I do love to read about those that live in the country and I grew up on a farm in Nebraska so I’m well aware of the whole chicken raising process from fluffy little chics to plucking and carving. My most vivid memory of raising chickens was cleaning the chicken coop, especially in the summer. It rivals with the smell of confinement hog raising. I’m not sure which is worse. I never really had the desire to raise chickens although they can be fryer ready in just 6 to 8 weeks which makes for a fairly quick meat source. One thing I do like about chickens is they love to eat bugs and I hate bugs. I will say that a good fried chicken is one of my favorite foods. Hold fast to your dreams, for without them life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly. - Langston Hughes



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