Monday, December 03, 2007


Brave Little Birds

It's time to re-think the term birdbrain.

A couple of years ago I read an article in the New Yorker about studies that naturalists and neuroscientists had done on the chickadee. Apparently they spend the summer months stashing away seeds in a zillion different hiding places so that they will be able to draw upon them in the winter. These sites differ from year to year; the chickadee is able to remember them all, nonetheless. Neuroscientists were contemplating the implications for memory in general.

Then the latest National Wildlife magazine arrived this month, and there were the chickadees again. This time the focus was on their winter survival powers, the stashing earning the tiniest mention. Apparently the chickadee is also able to lower its metabolic rate at night in order to conserve the food it has taken in during the day. It then burns up what it needs to by shivering all night, the shivering a way of combating the cold.

(It may turn out to be the Next Big Thing. Fitness buffs, bored with Jazzercise and Pilates and Tai Bo, turn to Aerobic Shivering, the chiackadee emblazoned upon t-shirts, leotards, gymbags... you read it here first.)

We have three bird feeders and a platform which the birds share with the squirrels. Apparently the chickadees, who may appreciate but not need our assistance in the mild winter, increase their chances of survival when winter temperatures hit below zero, usually part of January.

Our chickadees are joined by house finches, goldfinches, blue jays, cardinals, mourning doves, nuthatches, hooded juncos, downy and hairy woodpeckers, and tufted titmice. We love 'em all, but there is something special about those brave little black-capped chickadees.

My friends parrot is smarter than some people out there. It amazing how birds manage in the cold. It truly is remarkable.
Wow..I learned a lot today from you Lulu..thank you :)

We keep our bird feeders full all year. Including the one for the hummingbirds which are supposed to fly south..but apparently no one told them since I seem them all year.
Oh my,
How I miss my bird feeders and the chickadees are so cute. I have read tat birds brains are actually large in proportion to their body size.
Those bluejays are some bad muthafuckas! We dont have many in Texas but the ones I've seen have very bad attitudes and do not play well with others.
I'm a cardinal gal myself. I have a family that lives in my pecan tree. The parents are very nice but the young son has a bit of a hoodlum streak in him.

We rescued a purple finch that was stunned by a bad storm, and injured its' wing.

My bird books say that these birds migrate up there for the summer and may visit your sunny garden. They are so beautiful.


p.s. please send me an e-mail to I would like you to guest blog about a subject Id like to discuss.
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