Wednesday, June 06, 2007

In Which We Are Stymied By Ancient Technology

In this case, it's my aunt's ten-year-old laptop that's holding me back. I did manage to find the USB port hidden on the back, but it needs drivers to make my nifty little Mimobot work, and lord knows I've crashed this poor machine more times in the past four days than I care to remember, so downloading drivers probably isn't an option.

So no pictures for now. What are those other things I use here from time to time... oh, yes, words.

Yesterday morning as I sat praying that the laptop would decide to come back to life before anyone noticed I'd killed it, I watched a male cardinal and his fledgling get harrassed to distraction by a cowbird fledgling. Initially it was just the pair of cardinals, the parent on the feeder and the fledgling on the ground in full feed me squawk and flutter. The parent flew down and back up several times, filling its offspring's gaping mouth, until the cowbird showed up and started its own food demands. Overwhelmed by the show, the cardinal ignored its own fledgling, making a couple of trips to feed the cowbird until the young cardinal rushed it and momentarily drove it off. 'Ray for cardinal Jr.

Cowbirds are a parasitic species that lay their eggs in other birds' nests. They typically have a shorter brood time than other birds, gaining their chicks an extra few days to build up strength to either kick the other eggs/hatchlings out of the nest or out-compete them for food. The cowbird food-demanding display is loud and aggressive. Couple this with the tendency of adult birds to respond to an open squawking beak rather than the specific type of bird it's attached to, and you get cowbirds eliminating their competition in the nest and generally wreaking havoc on local songbird populations. Watching the young cardinal drive the cowbird off before its befuddled parent could feed the damn thing even more was gratifying.

The rain that relented for most of the day has returned, bringing with it a cool breeze sweeping a steel sky that looks and feels more like October than June. The redbud tree's flat planes of leaves dip momentarily with each raindrop while the ferns shudder beneath them. The oaks remain unperturbed. Birds and chipmunks and squirrels are hidden away now as the rain sends ring after ring expanding on the pond. The desert is very far away now as I am nestled in the green.

No comments: