Friday, March 12, 2010
We have a pair this year that apparently have chosen to nest in a dead cottonwood tree, a more conventional nesting cavity than some they have had in the past. One summer they raised two broods inside the metal railing on a boat trailer parked at the side of our yard. It was a hot summer (of course) and I feared the metal pipe would be too hot--or within reach of marauding stray cats, but baby titmice fledged successfully both times. Another summer they built a nest inside the metal arm of a large satellite disk about five feet off the ground. Every time the dish moved when we changed channels (this was before Dish Network satellites when we had one of those big awkward moving dishes), the arm would move too--but that didn't bother the birds either!
Among my favorite summer days are those when just-fledged titmice are noisily following their parents around the yard.
Here's a close-up. Can't you just hear the crack of that seed exploding?
I began this post with a Black-crested Titmouse; I'll end with a much larger crested bird: the Crested Caracara (Northern Caracara) that posed in a mesquite tree while we were boating along the river yesterday. People around here call them the "Mexican Eagle," but they are actually falcons. When I see one of these on the ground, there's usually something dead nearby. They are carrion-eaters like vultures (and often hang around with them, especially Black Vultures), but they also eat living snakes, lizards, turtles, etc.
I like to see Caracaras flying. Something about the way they fly, very purposefully, reminds me of kamikazes. They look helmeted to me, and other falcons do, too--- an impression I have that, it occurs to me as I write, others may not have. But even from too far away to see clearly, I can spot these large crested birds and know just what they are.
Maybe it's the crest. Whatever it is, these four birds--from the dapper little Black-crested Titmouse -- to the seed-cracking Cardinals and Pyrrhuloxias -- to the imposing Crested Caracara--are among my favorite yard birds. Yesterday was a topnotch day for watching topknots.