Thursday, May 7, 2009

Baby's Got Back

One of the things I love best about spring is that the activity at my bird feeders and baths increases ten fold. Starting in February and lasting until fall, my yard suddenly becomes party hearty central for close to a dozen different species, from year round residents to those just passing through to the plain ol' lost ("I knew I shoulda taken a left turn at Albuquerque," said the buff-breasted flycatcher.)

Which can be a problem for our year round denizens, who, quite frankly, are a lil' pissy about sharing. Like our population of pine siskin, a smallish species of finch that hangs out in the trees on our property pretty much year round, making their nests in the taller of the piñon trees. These dudes love to engage the house finches in nasty turf wars, both at the stand feeders and the thistle tubes.

So, we're pretty familiar with adult pine siskins. Which is why, one afternoon last week when we were happy houring it out on the back patio, S.B. nodded his head towards the feeder and said, "That bird ain't right."

I followed his gaze and spotted this little dude (dudette?) hanging out in the feeder's catch bin. It looked like a pine siskin but then again, it didn't. It had the yellow tipped wings of the species, but also the downy feathers of a newbie bird. And, well it was, um, chubbier than the others of its kind. And there appeared to be something wrong with its eyes.

"Well of course there's something wrong with its eyes," said S.B. "He's like Cartman from Southpark. He's eaten himself into a stupor."

It did appear that Cartman was gobbling seed at a furious rate. Other birds were flying in and out, squawking up a storm, but he wasn't budging from his single minded task to eat every single sunflower seed he could get his beak on. Another question: if he was booted from the nest, how did he fly himself over here?

So while we waited to see if Cartman would, in fact, eventually get himself back up off the ground, we speculated about the events that might have led to his abandonment.

"Maybe his mom and dad kicked him out of the nest because, you know, he's not right?" said S.B. "Now he's got to fend for himself?"

"Or maybe his parents died," I offered.

We discussed everything from a vicious hawk attack to poison to a child's errant aim with a bb gun.

But we were stopped by a motion at the feeder. Cartman was no longer eating. Instead, he was hopping around unsteadily while at the same time rustling his wing feathers. We watched, hopefully, as he hopped to the edge of the feeder in what looked like preparation for lift off. It didn't end up being the most graceful of flights – more C-130 than Gulf Stream – and it didn't last long – he barely made a low hanging branch on a nearby piñon – but he did it. Then he flew back again. And commenced to stuffing his face.

Finally, another of his kind showed up. Was this his mommy? His daddy? Or a neighboring adult patiently waiting for him to finish up so he could get his share. We never found out. We took our attention off the feeder for a few minutes and when we looked back, both birds were gone.

Cartman, wherever you are, I hope you make it to full fledged bird. And remember, you're not fat. You're just big boned.


Big Shamu said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Big Shamu said...

I think Cartman will make a nice snack for whatever predator enjoys low flying fruit.

(Can I have spellcheck implanted into my brain?)

Doris Rose said...

Yay Cartman! never underestimate the little fatbirds.Behold the power.

Bretthead said...

I used to say my older kid (who barely eats) eats like a bird. Your Cartman defies that analogy! Funny!!

fishy said...

Cartman doesn't look too healthy.
Maybe he/she knew that time was short and was having one last feast?
I like watching birds but I don't know much about them.

ps) new post at the Pond.

Jenny said...

That other bird was his personal trainer and she flew him off to Birdie Boot Camp. (or that's what I want to think.)

Bravo for your feeder! I'm going to fill mine up tonight.

moi said...

Shamu: You and me, both. I are a writer. Not a spuheller.

Doris: Well, we didn't find him dead on the ground, so I have high hopes!

WTWA: So your older kid didn't inherit your donut gene, huh? Funny how that all works.

Fish: That's what we thought: he was ill and was eating out of a sense of not knowing what else to do. I can grok to that . . .

Boxer: Yeah, it's Snow White's Freakin' Wilderness Camp around these parts. We had a red tailed hawk drop in at the water bath last week. WTF?

Big Shamu said...

He probably was stocking up before some freaking squirrel hogged all the feed.

Kymical Reactions said...

Poor Cartman. Maybe he has an eating disorder. Maybe he never feels full and doesn't know when it's time to stop. Maybe he's just, uh, 'backed up' - and one good poop will do the trick. For that matter, maybe he is angry at someone and is gonna have the last word by dropping a present in someone’s hair in someone’s purse.

Hummmm - I think he is up to something. That is typical with Cartmans.

Aunty Belle said...

Bird sociology. Bird psych. Tweet!

AL (big-bones) GORE said...

Reminds me a bit of Albert Junior. Did you smell a hint of the marijuana in the air? It gives you the "munchies".

moi said...

kmwthay: Respect their authorithai!

Aunty: Birds are endlessly fascinating to me. If I had a super power, it would definitely be the power to fly.

Al: Drugs 'r' bad, mkay? Unless it's a bottle of Patron. But that's not a drug. That's a blessing.

Heather Cherry said...

He's festively plump!

Heff said...

I'm invisioning a WHOLE LOT of bird shit.

weary said...

lot of times a puffy bird is sick. i had a red winged black bird at the feeder day after day. stayed there because te food was abundant and easy. i knoew one day he wouldnt come to the feeder and that day came. i did find him under the rhododendron. im hoping he flew off to a good life but puffy birds usually dont mean good things.

moi said...

Heather: Zaftig. Like Liz Taylor in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.

Heff: La, la, la, la, la.

Weary: Ruh roh. That's not good. I didn't find him dead anywhere, but this is a big place. Sniff.

Margo said...

I adore Cartman. Hope he made it. We get all kinds of bird action in our yard too. Whenever the babies start getting pushed out of the nest, it gets all a little too upclose and personal with Darwinism of the thing. The drama is better than Animal Planet!

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Awwww - that feathery puff ball is just tooo cute!

His mate is pretty cute too. Sparrows...?

You are lucky Moi.

Meghan said...

I wonder if Cartman could defend his food against our squirrels. I'm doubtful. It's like furry organized crime around here. They ripped both of our bird feeders down, ate all the food, and then dragged them into the middle of the yard... you know, just for show. Like leaving us a horses head.