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I SAW A WINTER WREN!

April 26, 2010

The highlight of Saturday’s birding was definitely my first Winter Wren sighting! Those birds are tiny, but boy are they ever LOUD! A little trivia for you (thanks to ornithologist extraordinaire and BNA): did you know that the Winter Wren has ten times the sound power of a crowing rooster? (I had better look up what BNA is, if I’m posing as an almost-birder.) Anyhow, the Winter Wren is so loud (and teeny) that when the bird sings, its whole body quivers and shakes maniacally! Quite the sight to behold. In case you’ve forgotten, here is the bird in question.

I also realized that ornithology is no place for feminist criticism. Have you ever seen female birds? I have to admit — I was tremendously disappointed. Let’s do a taste test. Here is (as you all know) my all-time favorite bird, otherwise known as my “spark bird” — the Red Winged Blackbird.

And here, alas, is its female counterpart. ALSO a red winged blackbird:

That was my exact reaction. (well, assuming we had the same reaction, but I’m pretty sure we must have, because really, how many different reactions to this taste test could you possibly have? Unless, of course, your predilection is for drab brownish brown birds, which, incidentally, I totally accept.) So, I wonder — what do feminists say about the Bird World?

Identifying birds is infinitely harder than I thought. Not only do males and females look so strikingly different, but birds also change their plumage a couple of times a year, and look different depending on the season. But I’m still an almost-birder, not even a beginner birder, so all errors remain permissible.

Had a great encounter with an owl (I only seem to have owl sightings in Whitby. Who knew Whitby Ontario was famous for its owls?), thanks to a member of our group who spotted him on a tree where I only saw branch upon branch upon branch. Seeing isn’t as easy as I thought either!

I’ve often wondered what animals do all day long, and whether they have intellectual aspirations akin to ours. When I was a little kid, I used to think that every life form modelled itself on human life. For instance, if I was told that an insect lived 24 hours, I’d imagine that from midnight to 2am, the bug went to elementary school, then high school, then graduated from university at about 9 a.m, then graduate school until noon, then the bug worked until 5pm, and then came retirement and fun, and, obviously death at midnight. It strikes me as slightly ridiculous that I believed such a thing until, well….later than one might think. But, as I said a few posts ago, I did lead a rather sheltered life, where the natural world is concerned. Of course, the thing that now puzzles me most is why on earth, at age 6, was I perfectly convinced that all animals should go to graduate school and get their PhD?

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Fireweed permalink
    April 26, 2010 3:11 pm

    I’ve seen those around a lot lately and had no idea they were the female blackbirds. I have, in fact, seen them perched on top of fluffy, gone-to-seed cat tails like that and never gave them a second thought due to their drabness.

    I’ve always wondered what birds do at night, after dark – where do they go exactly? And in the middle of thunder and rainstorms?

    • April 26, 2010 4:04 pm

      Yeah, I’ve wondered the same thing — like do they go on vacation? How? What does bird-relaxation entail? hm….

  2. April 26, 2010 4:33 pm

    This is much nicer than how Keith identifies female birds. I was at the aquarium with my 9-year-old cousin, and there’s a bird section (!). One bird (the hyacinth macaw) was being particularly squawky. Michael–a really sweet kid, usually–pipes up “I know which one Keith would say is the woman.”

  3. April 27, 2010 11:52 am

    How great to see you on my Facebook page and on the blog. James just got back from seeing Alana so your name was on our lips only a few days ago when we talked to him. We’d love to see you in France. Quinn is well worth the journey ;^> Spoken as a purely detached grandmother of course! Glad to find your blog too. I LOVE birds. This will be a great resource.

  4. April 27, 2010 6:38 pm

    Here’s a little essay you might find interesting:

    Margaret van de Pitte. “‘The Female is Somewhat Duller’: The Construction of the Sexes in Ornithological Literature.” Environmental Ethics 20 (1998): 23-39.

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  1. Forest Bird: Winter Wren – It's A Bird's Life

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