Monday, May 12, 2008
It's a wise child that knows its own father
That's a brown thrasher in the top pic. Thrashers are cousins to the mockingbird, and have the same hysterical temperament without the pugnacious tendencies. They're always the first to sound the alarm when anything remotely threatening appears, and they're usually befuddled by the slightest change in their environment. Although they are primarily fruit and insect eaters, they get interested in the seed that falls out of feeders, just because they see the other birds eating it. I often see thrashers struggling to open the hull of a sunflower seed, a task that always seems to defeat them. At the risk of engaging in species stereotyping, I'd say the thrasher is the charming dimwit of the bird world.
Today there was a daddy thrasher feeding his fledgling in my back yard. The dad was wandering pretty far in search of grub for the kid, and while he was out of sight, a female flicker (the bird in the bottom photo) appeared on the scene. Junior, being of average thrasher intelligence, decided the flicker was Dad and started following her around doing the "Feed me" cheep. The flicker tried to dodge him, like a spooked suburbanite evading a downtown panhandler. Junior wasn't the least bit discouraged and kept chasing her around the yard. When Dad finally reappeared, the baby took the food he offered and then immediately turned his attention back to the flicker. This went on for a good ten minutes, until the flicker departed in a huff. Junior did have enough sense to stay with his father and follow him home, but I wonder how he'll do when it comes time to find a girlfriend.
Flicker photo from Wikipedia, and Brown Thrasher likewise.