After all these years, I have realized that not everything I learned in school was/is true.
One of the first bird things I learned was that hummingbirds are so fast you can barely see them AND they never stop flying……..their wings are always beating…. HA! In recent years we have begun putting up hummingbird feeders. Sometimes you can use red food coloring to attract them…..but we’re also told red food color is not good for them….actually clear sugar-water is sufficient. These feeders have a perch, and the hummingbird sits on it and eats. Also, we have a male, which after getting his “fill” flies to a nearby branch and guards “his” feeder from other hummingbirds…except the occasional female, that he must admire.
Here’s another one ………………birds fly south for the winter. I’m noticing that cardinals never leave us in the frigid Midwest, nor do robins. Well, some robins stay around.
Is it any wonder, that with all this miss-information that I have stored in my head, that my 30 something kids think I am out-of-it, when I give them a matter of truth! Case in point, we’ve all been there…at least we older people have…homework. When my 8th grade daughter came home with an Algebra problem, I assisted her in its resolution. No one in the class could solve the problem, so my daughter volunteered to solve on the board. The teacher said, “where did you learn to do that? We gave up on that method 20 years ago! Yeah, says the teacher, it’s the right answer, but you solved it the wrong way.”
How, can you solve it the wrong way, if you get the right answer….and IF their/her way was so good, why didn’t anyone in the class get it right?
I have seen bald eagle’s nests in Minnesota, and also in Florida, still thinking that birds fly south for the winter….hummmm, reminds of some friends I have…..I of course believed bald eagles flew south also. My Minnesota fishing buddy, corrected me last year, some bald eagles do fly south, but for the most part, if there is open water, eagles never leave. Never leave? How can that be, my grade-school teacher said birds fly south for the winter. We have about 3 pair of nesting bald eagles on the river near our house. This last winter, was especially cold here in the Midwest, but the bald eagles were busily finding fish in a couple of open (river) water areas.
So, here is where I’m stuck. If I’ve stored all this stuff in my brain for 50 years, when I un-pack it for my grand kids….and it’s wrong….then I know my kids will be telling their kids, that “grandpa has nice stories, but he teases a lot”.
It used to be that spring here was noted by the return of the robin, which, as I explained earlier, never really leaves us. Some people declare springs arrival by the first sighting of black birds. I’ve decided that the best “sure sign” of spring in this area is the arrival of the flocks of turkey vultures. A particularly unsightly bird, all black feathers on its body, but no feathers on its head, I’ve never heard it make any sounds. (http://vulturesociety.homestead.com/Photos.html ) They soar high like bald eagles and live off dead carcasses. These birds NEVER arrive unless spring is here.
Now, crows are a different breed. I never cared for this bird either………. noisy, dirty bird!! But they do pick up trash….which is more than I can say for some people I know! But I believe I can tell when spring is coming by the crow. First, they are never here in the winter…so, they must go somewhere….maybe even hibernating…. After our breakfast, my wife and I move into the front room and finish the breakfast off, with another cup of coffee, or two, or three. In February, I noticed, while sipping my coffee, that crows were flying from left to right! That is south to north. The next morning it was the same thing, in fact every morning it was the same thing… Well, I began to note, that the crows NEVER flew from right to left…. That is, the opposite direction, north to south. Therefore, after weeks worth of sub-scientific scrutinizing, I deduced, Watson, that at this time of year crows always fly south to north…..circumnavigating the globe, just in time to make it past my window every morning at coffee time. I watched this closely, into the month of March. Then………..they quit flying past my window. The only logical conclusion was that spring had arrived and they found where they were going.
Boy, I can’t wait to share my scientific conclusions with my grand kids on their next visit.