Wish I'd Said It

Weeds are flowers too - once you get to know them.

- A. A. Milne

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Mad Marie vs Chazz Chopperboy (#220)

Watching my bird feeder from the front window has provided a lot of entertainment lately. (Holy crap. There's no denying it now. I'm old.) Each day’s usual parade of visitors includes squirrels, chipmunks, mourning doves, sparrows, goldfinches, redwing blackbirds, grackles, cardinals, bluejays and chickadees. Occasionally a robin hops along, apart from the seed-seekers, in a never-ending quest for small, wriggly things.

Some of the birds seem crankier than usual, especially some of the mourning doves. Now, few of us would argue that the Creator favoured all his creatures with various gifts.  For instance, chickadees are cute, brave and curious. We all know dogs are loyal and fun-loving. Crows are clever and watchful.

Morning doves, although strikingly pretty in some light, are dumb as posts.

It’s easy, when regarding those tiny heads bobbing up and down, to imagine them filled with a single, cartoon thought balloon containing the word “EAT."

I liken them to cows - placid, social, ever-grazing, regarding the world with a singular lack of curiosity.

Like their bovine brethren, mourning doves generally get along quite amicably with each other. They also tend to tolerate the presence of other ground feeders, like sparrows, grackles, juncoes and squirrels.


Lately (as I said upstream before getting so windy) I’ve seen a few cranky mourning doves. One will suddenly decide it wants the feeding area to itself and will turn on, and chase away, another. It may have been grazing happily beside it a moment before, or it may challenge a new arrival while ignoring a couple of others.

I can’t account for it. Unless they’re males trying to act tough to impress a lady. Or maybe pregnant females having hormonal issues.

Anyway, today I was witness to a National Geographic moment: Mad Marie Mourning Dove vs  Chazz "Chopperboy" Chipmunk!

Bring It On!!

A flurry of feathers drew my attention to the area below the bird feeder. This, of course, is where the seed falls from above when scattered by the sloppy eaters. (I'm looking at YOU, sparrows!) This drop zone is roughly circular and about three feet in diameter.

The flurry that caught my eye resolved itself into a sulking mourning dove, standing just outside the seed circle and staring back inside, where a muscle-flexing chipmunk was patrolling and filling his cheeks.

At one point, the chipmunk absently worked his way toward the mourning dove and turned its back.


The cartoon balloon word changed from “HUH?” to “ATTACK!” and the dove launched itself at the chipmunk’s rear end. I couldn’t hear the squeak through the glass but I’m pretty sure there was one, as the chipmunk leaped and skittered out of the circle.

The circle which was now proudly paced by the victorious dove. “EAT” was on display inside its head again and it pecked away, seemingly without a care in the world.

For about 20 seconds.

That’s how long it took for the chipmunk to decide it was mad as heck and not going to take it anymore and hurtled its furry little body towards the unsuspecting dove.

Once again, in an angry flutter of wings, the disgruntled dove hightailed it for the border where - uh-huh, you guessed it -  it pouted until the chipmunk presented itself as a target once again.

A few minutes later, something outside startled both combatants and they scattered. I'd score the bout a draw, with about three or four successful oustings each. It was very, very funny and a treat to witness. Unfortunately, I’m not ept at using the filming feature of my camera and my attempt failed.

I'm telling you folks, if there's nothing on tv - get yourself a bird feeder.


Hilary said...

Your critters love you.. how could they not? They often put on a great show for you, and you in turn entertain us with your stories of their antics. It sure would have been fun to see it though.. work on those video skills, willya? :) Great, funny post.

Milton said...

Now, if I'd been there, I'd have sorted out that Dove right off.

Love your posts. Muttie went to the local RSPB sanctuary on Sunday and had a great day, even tho Paw's cheap binoculars weren't working right (surprise, surprise).

Hope you get your video techniques sorted as I'd have loved to have seen that film.

Milt x

Sally said...

Hi Frank
Another very entertaining post ... thank you. I absolutely agree with you on the merit of birdtables, or anything, in fact, which draws wonderful characters into our circle. I have a family of pheasants who come for breakfast and dinner (if a cock and three hens consitute a family?) and I'm working on my video skills.

Unknown said...

Just before I sat down and read your post, my boys and I got out our Sibley Guide to Birds to figure out what kind of unusual bird has been hanging out in our yard. He flew away before we could get the binocs on him, but we are leaning towards Northern Flicker. I've left the book and glasses out so we can catch him again and maybe confirm. Thank you for pointing out the fun we can have in nature just by being present.

cj said...

Thank you again Frank for a bright spot to my day. Enjoyed your observations with relief upon learning that I am not alone in my preference for the drama around the birdfeeder rather than that on the "boob tube". What a wonderful world we have been given if we just stop and be still long enough to see it.

Pauline said...

Your account made me laugh - I've seen bird bouts in the seed circle myself. My favorite birds to watch lately are the guinea hens from the farm next door - they love to eat ground bees but when they get one in their mouths they act like kids' spin toys.

Thank you for your kind comment on my blog.

Ava said...

Very funny. I would have loved to see it, but the mental image with your description is quite satisfactory. :)

Frank Baron said...

* Glad you enjoyed, Hil. There's sure an element of luck involved - being at the right place at the right time to catch this stuff. :)

* Hi Milton - and thanks for the kind words. I'm glad Muttie had a great day, despite those darn binoculars. :)

* Hiya Maud. I'd love to see some of your vids. Maybe you could show them on a blog sometime. :)

A cock and three hens? I dunno about a family - but it sure would constitute a party. ;)

* My pleasure, Ab. I hope it was indeed a flicker and I hope you and the guys get a chance for another, closer look. They're a very spiffy bird.

* CJ, I owe you thanks for a day-brightener. And I agree wholeheartedly about the importance of being still -- and opening our senses. Thanks for the visit and kind words. :)

* Pauline, I might just pay to see a video of those guinea hens spinning around. You're welcome and thanks for the return visit. :)

* Ava, you always say the nicest things. Never stop. ;)

LadyFi said...

Hilarious! A chipmunk fighting with a dove? Amazing...

Bernita said...

~laughing myself sick~
Frank, I could see it all!

Mental P Mama said...

LOL. They really are better than TV!

Steve Gravano said...

Wildlife can sometimes be very funny to watch. Great story.

Fliterary said...

Hilary's link sent me here, and I'm glad I came. Thank you for the fun!

photowannabe said...

My sentiments exactly, as Lisa Buffaloe just said. Thanks to Hilary I have visitied a choice blog. Your creative writing skills gave me a terrific picture to savor.

Country Girl said...

This is hilarious. We are constantly entertained by the feeders outside but have never seen a chipmunk and a mourning dove in the boxing ring.

Frank Baron said...

* Well, LadyFi, "fight" might be a stretch but whatever it was, it was fun. Thanks for the visit.

* I'm glad Bernita. Happy the words worked. (Though a video would have been a hoot.)

* And cheaper, MPM. ;)

* Glad you enjoyed, Steve. Thanks for stopping by.

* Thanks for the visit, Lisa. I'm glad you came too. :)

* Thanks photowannabe. You're very kind. :)

* Keep watching Country Girl. It may yet happen. ;) Thanks for the visit.

Leah J. Utas said...

Nature at its best.

Unknown said...

Boys and I confirmed it is indeed a Northern Flicker. It was a big day at the house.

Dianne said...

you described it so well it was like you did make a video

we have a few mourning doves that hang about, my son says they always look like they're going to fall off the telephone line

Grayquill said...

No film needed the way you write - I saw it all and it was magnificent.
Very entertaining on this awesome Saturday morning - the sun is out in Seattle - Yahoo!

Nancy said...

Great story without a bad ending - my favorite kind!

Frank Baron said...

True, Leah. :)

Good stuff, Ab. Flickers are nifty. I'm glad the lads are interested. :)

Thanks Dianne. And if they did fall off, I wouldn't be surprised. ;)

Thanks GQ. I know sun-spotting is practically a sport over on the Left Coast. Glad you had a good dose of it. :)

Mine too, Nancy. Thanks for the visit and kind words. :)

Voyager said...

I can sit and watch my hummingbird feeders for hours. Nothing on T.V. is so full of drama and beauty.

Frank Baron said...

Voyager, it must be nice to get a lot of hummingbirds. We get visits at the feeder up at our cottage but they're relatively infrequent.

Thanks for stopping by. :)

bobbie said...

Oh, I wish I had been there to see it. Birds can be so entertaining.

Frank Baron said...

They sure can, bobbie. Thanks for the visit. :)

Barbara Martin said...

Very entertaining, though my animal posts tend to be on the serious side.

Frank Baron said...

Glad you were entertained, Barbara. Thanks for the visit. :)