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Posts tagged: birds

Speculative ornithology

A few years ago, a friend came up with the whimsical concept of Beakbook — a social media network for birds.

I thought of that this morning while out walking in downtown Spokane. What if Beakbook really existed?

Just imagine.

I just know downtown's sparrows would be labeled “thugs” and “loiterers” by birds who claim they never come down here.

And area crows would “like” posts about roadkill squirrels.

What else?

Announcing their presence

Unlike Deputy Barney Fife, I cannot claim to understand bird-speak.

But I have a hunch about what some of them are saying at this time of year.

“Don't rake your leaves.”

I'm guessing this because I noticed something the other night. Cats lose their stealth when moving through a yard covered with dry leaves.

And if I have noticed that, I would imagine the birds have, too.

Normally silent felines create crunching and rustling that all but blares “Here comes trouble!”

At least that's how I imagine a bird would view it.

One highlight from my weekend email

A reader took me to task for not knowing that ravens and crows are the same thing.

They aren't, of course.

We all make mistakes. And I was happy to write back and briefly point out his.

But I really don't get it. Wouldn't you make sure you knew what you were talking about before firing off a blistering rebuke?

Barney Fife School of Bird Interpretation

I guess it all depends on when you head out the door. But this morning seemed like an especially fine occasion for employing what we learned from Deputy Fife in a great episode of “The Andy Griffith Show” called “Opie the Birdman.”

Remember when Barney purported to understand bird language?

Here's hoping that all the ones we heard this morning were saying “I feel pretty good.”

Happy Friday.

Bird humor

“Had this happen more than once during my golfing days,” wrote John Yancey. “After I hit another terrible drive, a crow would comment with the usual 'Caw, caw, caw.' Only it would sound to me like: 'Haw, haw, haw.' Then I would look up and say: 'Well, I bet you couldn't do any better.'

“Speaking of laughing birds, I was recently listening to a nearby robin voicing a rapid series of staccato notes. This happens frequently in the evening, and I guess it's some sort of territorial warning. But if you listen for it, it can sound like rapid laughter after hearing a particularly funny joke. So it made me wonder what sort of joke would strike a robin as funny.”

So Yancey wrote a bird joke. Here it is.

First robin: “How many sparrows does it take to change a light bulb?”

Second robin: “I don't know, how many?”

First robin: “Sparrows don't have light bulbs, They're too cheap, cheap, cheap. Yuk, yuk, yuk, yuk, yuk, yuk.”

Ever seen one of these little guys?

According the website, this is a yellow warbler seen in Moses Lake. 

Unprintable quotes

The soundtrack for my bike ride home this afternoon was bird chirping.

Seemed like way more than usual. It was loud, insistent and all around me.

And though I can't say for sure, it sounded to me as if they were commenting on the weather. Perhaps they were suggesting that today's version of spring was (not) for the birds.

Old school tweets

You might recall a classic episode of “The Andy Griffith Show” called “Opie the Birdman.”

It includes a brief comedic bit in which Barney Fife suggests that he can understand bird language. That is, he can tell when chirping means “I'm feeling good” or when it is saying “I feel sad.”

Well, I could have used the good deputy's assistance this morning. I rode my bike up to the North Side to get a haircut. And both going and coming, I heard an astonishing amount of avian chatter.

I wonder if others noticed this today. One cat I saw seemed to be pretty interested in the nearby bird talk.

Anyway, my guess is that a lot of the discussion had to do with nest siting and construction plans. But, of course, I can't be sure.

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About this blog

Features writer Paul Turner is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review in the Features department. He writes "The Slice" column, which appears six times a week and produces general features stories for the Today section.

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