Signs of spring are everywhere in my neck of the woods. Yesterday, I saw my first red-winged blackbird in the metro area over in Wayzata, today I saw my first flock of bluebirds (left) at Schaar's Bluff and red-tailed hawks are pairing up all over the place. My friend Amber and I had a spare couple of hours and took a quick drive south of the Twin Cities to bird. It was foggy and gray and birds were limited but we did see tons of red-tailed hawks and all of them were paired up. When a male red-tail lands next to a female on the same branch or light post, that's pretty much third base for him. One odd thing was a lone male wood duck hanging out next to a hen mallard. Any drake mallards that tried to come close, would be quickly chased away by the wood duck. Amber and I wanted to tell him that we thought that hen was too much woman for him, but when ducks are full of hormones, there's no reasoning with them.
Meanwhile, my cockatiel Kabuki is feeling the change of seasons as well and is singing like a crazy bird. Kabuki can do most of the Andy Griffith Theme Song and his interest in the tune was rekindled last weekend thanks to TV Land's tribute to the late Don Knotts last weekend. Kabuki is also a master of the wolf whistle and will do it over and over and over and over and over in several different incarnations. One of my favorites is when he hunches over, holds his right foot up, closed in a circle and drags the two notes out as long as possible. It looks like he is concentrating so hard on the fusion of the two notes, trying to find the true meaning and essence of the wolf whistle. No one has ever delivered that sound with such heart and feeling.
Some days Kabuki will work on a new sound all together, trying out new tones and whistles, one that sounds almost like a soft pish. He will sit on the top perch and ever so quietly go "pish, pish, pish". When he really gets going, he will try to whistle inside his empty toy dish. Kabuki has a purple cup that we keep beads, balls of foil, little plastic doo dads, etc that he will pick up and drop the floor of his cage--he gets no end of entertainment from this project. Sometimes for fun, when I do laundry I will bring the basket out in front of Kabuki's cage and drop in each article of clothing one by one into it. Those are really fun days for the cockatiel. Each drop appears to be a deep thought to be pondered. When the cup is empty and he is feeling musical, he will stick his head in the whole cup and sing his song (there he is testing his sound in the photo above). He mostly does the wolf whistle but sometimes the Andy Griffith tune will be attempted as well. He appears so proud to have figured out a new way to amplify his sound.
Yesterday, I met up with friends Lori and Melissa and helped clean out some bluebird and wood duck boxes. When Lori and I were cleaning out a wood duck box we found a whole bunch of ants at the bottom underneath all of the cedar bedding. They didn't affect the nest last year, all but one of the eggs hatched, and that one wasn't as developed as the others. I think they came in after the hatching attracted by the egg shells or maybe came in during the cold and just died. It was kind of gross.