Saturday, July 21, 2012

Do you have a bird pet?

Do you have a bird pet? I have some and I'd like you to meet them.

First, meet Robbie.

Do you remember all the Robins this past winter? We saw thousands during the Christmas bird count.  Hundred hang around our neighborhood and our house.

Well, one decided to stick around in our backyard.  He got a mate and set up a nest in one of the trees.  I named him Robbie. 

How did he become a pet? He knows us for one.  Then he'll come out when we're sitting in the yard, and just walk around, nearby, unafraid.  He feels like part of the family.  When Debbie (my wife) was getting the grounds ready for spring flower planting, Robbie will keep her company in exchange of worms and grubs.  When I mow the lawn, Robbie will lead the way or follow behind.  Robbie and his mate raised a couple of broods already.

Now, comes Kathy.

Kathy is our Catbird.  She is a great songster.  She sings in the morning and sings in the late afternoon hours.

It's not easy to qualify as a "bird pet" in our household.  Kathy made the grades.  How? Kathy will perch on top of the tree where we set up a sitting area and will sing his heart out.  She'll do it for us.  She'll wait for us to come sit, then she'll start singing, just to keep us company.  And entertain us.  We love Kathy.  And her family.

Kathy had several fledglings this summer.  They've taken singing lessons from Kathy.

I've never given a name to the Brown Thrasher.  And I'm not going to do it now.   Is he really a pet?  He works the yard.  He loves the birdbaths.  Our backyard is his territory.  The pair had multiple broods.  They love taking dirt baths.  Seems like they're the same pair who come back year after year.  Something is still missing. 
To qualify as a pet, the bird has to know us and not be afraid of us.  A safe distance is fine.  It's OK if the Hummingbirds come to our faces.  They need to make the backyard their territory and hopefully come back season after season.  You can set your own standards. 
The House Finches don't qualify.  They come, eat, and have chicks only.  The House Sparrows, Titmice, Goldfinches, Downy Woodpeckers, Blue Jays,..., they're not pet.  They think our place is a fast food joint or a restaurant.  
The Downy almost qualified.  He came last winter, got a mate in the spring, set up a nest, bred, still coming.  One problem.  He doesn't seem to know us.

I named the Mourning Dove, Dovie.  Then I forgot about it.  Too many Dovies.  Couldn't tell them apart.  
The Wrens? Definitely pets.  They'll come on the front porch, interested in our lives.  They'll even come inside the house if they find a way.  Just to pay a visit.  They sing for us.  We love them and they love us.  Just like pets too.
Do you know how I started calling these birds "pets"?  Last year we had "Broken Wing".  He was a male Cardinal with a broken wing.  He couldn't get up to the feeders so we start leaving seeds for him on the ground.  He literally lived in our backyard because he felt safe.  So we started calling him our pet because we saw him everyday.  He knew us. 

Now, I can almost guess what you're thinking.  C'mon, these birds are not pets! The seed eaters will leave when there's no food in the feeders.  The others birds stay for convenience, they sing because it's the breeding season -territories- not for you, the Wrens are just curious birds by nature... Let's just say you're right.  But let's pretend still. 

You can go out "chasing birds" one week, then become a backyard birdwatcher right after.  Having "bird pets" may seem trivial but this is really when you start observing bird's behavior and making an effort to recognize individual birds, and following that bird's activities. This is real birding.  Do you have any bird pets?  Comments are welcome.


Anne said...

I love this! I don't know if I have any "pets", but did enjoy having the Wren family nest in the hanging plant out front, then move to the back yard once the babies fledged. I loved hearing the babies work on their singing! Having more than one bird of some species at a time makes me feel special, too. For example, two Thrashers, two Towhees, and one day I had three Gray Catbirds at one time! And I can always count on having 4-8 Cardinals at any given time! I also keep an eye and ear out for "my" Mississippi Kite, Wood Thrush, and Barred Owl.

Andre Coquerel said...

We had a Gray Parrot pet when I was a kid. Today I know I will not have an animal in a cage.
So when I see regular birds "residents" in my yard, I pretend they are my "pets". They're free, but I can enjoy them at the same time. And they think my house is their house too.
The relationship is only in the mind. You can have your Mississippi Kite pet -friend-, even a Barred Owl "pet".