Johnny-on-the-Spot … by John Foster
February is “National Bird Feeding Month.
About one-third of all American adults feed wild birds.
Roughly one billion pounds of seed, suet and other treats are put out for our fine feathered friends every year.
It figures out to a $4 billion investment.
We’ve been feeding the birds for a number of years and this year, I started to mix up my own batch of suet cakes.
The birds have taken a real liking to the oatmeal, cornmeal, flour, sugar, lard and crunchy peanut butter goodies I whip up.
An occasional dash of bacon grease or some crushed Wheat Chex or Cheerios sometime find a way into the menu.
I figure even in a relatively tame winter as we’ve had this year, finding something tasty to eat might help a bird get by.
My research indicates about 75% of birds in the wild live a year or less.
Cats take out up to 3.7 billion birds in the U.S. each year, too.
Those wind farms claim the lives of about a half-million birds each year.
Now, our bird feeding “stations” are true “bird feeders” in every sense of the phrase since we see an occasional hawk in the neighborhood, checking out the “menu”.
On those days, our bird feeder traffic goes way down.
Various woodpeckers, blue jays, sparrows, wrens and finches fly by for a nibble, along with the hordes of grackles and starlings.
Starlings, by the way, can hit notes so high that we can’t hear them.
We also feed the hummingbirds in the warmer months.
Amazing little creatures they are.
Most weigh about the same as a nickel.
A Ruby-throated hummingbird has to beat its’ wins 50 times a SECOND when hovering at a blossom or feeder.
If you’re close enough, those wings sound like a bee buzzing.
They’re also the only bird that can fly backwards.
I always wondered how those little creatures knew when it was time to fly south to Mexico or South America.
They sense the changing length of the day and late in the season, a hormone change makes them put on fat.
My guess is when a hummingbird notices a little flab around the waste when standing in front of the bathroom mirror, after a morning shower, it knows it’s time to make that 2 week flight south.
So, how do birds manage to doze on a twig or wire and not fall off when sleeping?
Those toes automatically clench to what they’re setting on and that grabbing action is done by tendons, as opposed to muscles.
Most birds have 4 toes; 3 pointing forward and one to the back.
Ostriches and road runners (Meep! Meep!) only have two toes.
(Bet Wile E. Coyote knew that!)
If you have a fear of birds, you suffer from “ornithophobia”.
That being the case, you probably would enjoy watching the Alfred Hitchcock thriller, “The Birds.
In the classic scene where actress Tippi Hedren was attacked by birds, they were actually attached to her clothing with long strands of nylon thread.
In those other scenes when the birds were just sitting around, watching the people, they had been fed wheat and whiskey.
Made them want to stand around and not fly as much.
Whiskey and wheat will do that to you.
By the way, here’s another bird-phobia.
That’s the fear that a duck or a goose is constantly watching you.
Did you know that up to 75% of birds .n the wild only live a year?
Cats consume up to 3.7 billion birds every year in the United States.
Those windmill farms also take out up to a half million birds each year.
It ain’t easy being a bird.
Maybe it’s payback because birds evolved from dinosaurs some 150 million years ago.
The closest living relative to the Tyrannosaurus Rex today is…envelope please…the chicken.
Plus, the largest source of protein consumed by we humans is poultry.
I’m telling you, if chickens revert to their roots, well, “Lucy, we’re gonna have a lot of ‘splaining to do.”
How about a big bird?
Not the Sesame Street critter but a truly “big bird”.
It would be the now-extinct flightless critter called the elephant bird.
He tipped the scales at just under 1,000 pounds.
I’m glad it’s extinct and was flightless because one of those splatting your vehicle from up in the sky would result in a trip to the body shop.
Do you know someone who is “eagle-eyed”?
That’s because certain types of eagles have eyesight that is up to 2 1/2 times better than ours.
But many Krestels and falcons can’t see any better than we do.
I haven’t seen many wearing glasses but they might be contact-wearers,.
Have you ever called someone a “bird-brain”?
Probably comes from the fact that an ostrich’s eyes are bigger than its’ brain.
However, I’m not going to debate the mental capacity of an ostrich with one since a male can stand 9 feet tall and tip the scales at 350 pounds.
Mr. Ostrich, sir.
Perhaps that’s why the Trashmen came up with that 1963 hit, “Surfin Bird”.
The bird is the word.