Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Psychopathy of Birds

If you have a backyard bird feeder and a tendency to anthropomorphize creatures you can see all sorts of human character traits in your feathered neighbors.

Finches Be Gangsta
In the community of finches there are three basic personalities. Shy Type B's wait for their turn at the feeder and never challenge another bird for perch. With only six feeding stations and a flock of over twenty looking for seed, these birds learn to hover in place as if to say, "can I have a little food too, please."

There are also Type A's, or Bully Finches. These girls, the bullies are always females, will see a fully occupied feeder and, spotting a timid Type B, knock the bird off its perch like Lindsey Lohan with a beak and claim the spot for her own.

The third type are straight up psychopaths. These girls don't just take all the seed they want they resent any other bird sitting down while they eat. These Psycho Finches will chase every other bird away from the feeder so they can eat alone. When two psychos face off things get insane.

I once saw one bird knock another off its perch, the second fought back and they fell to the ground fighting. One of the combatants flew off a couple of feet and stared down the other. Then it bullrushed its enemy and they had a stunning, wings flailing MMA wrestling match under a bush.

Finches share another human trait, they tend to poop in perfectly good drinking water. I have to clean out my birdbath every couple of days for the seed detritus (finches don't use napkins), feathers (the bullies also push their way into the pool), and crap. Like Americans who put potable water in our toilets, finches shit in the same water they drink.

Scrub Jays Are Neat Freaks
The Western Scrub Jay are the poor relations of the Jay family. They lack the fancy crests of the Steller's or Blue Jay and, frankly, look like that scruffy uncle with the mustard stains on his shirt you hope won't show up at the family reunion.  When Scrub Jays eat from the suet cake hanging from my Live Oak tree bits will fall on the ground. But, before he leaves, the Jays will clean up every speck of suet that fell. Really, the finches should take a lesson.

Ravens Have Language
It is said that ravens have the IQ of a seven year-old human, which makes them smarter than every Republican running for President. While I don't have ravens in my backyard I've seen many on my trips to Alaska. They don't just have problem solving intelligence and use tools, they have complex vocalizations.  If you watch two ravens click and trill at each other you quickly realize it isn't the mindless chatter of finches or TV personalities but an elaborate conversation. The ravens have words and are talking. Native Americans knew this to be true, give ravens thumbs and they would rule the world.

1 comment: said...

Ahahahahah! That is so funny! Any raven is smarter than republicans) I like your sense of humor.