Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Titmouse and the Dog Brush

Plants, birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians  and fish too: We all know people that can’t identify more than about a half-dozen birds, wouldn’t know the difference between a reptile and an amphibian if their life depended on it, are stopped cold when they have to extend their nomenclature beyond a deer, donkey, cow and elk, and when it comes to knowing plants….well, forget about it.  But for those of you with the artistic and scientific bent, those who see things in life and are filled with curiosity; those who revel at the sight of a hawk or stand in wonder when seeing a giant tree or perhaps “get all caught up” when walking the silent woods listening to the sounds of nature then here’s something for you.

Birds are building their nests this time of  year and around here we do everything we can to provide good nesting habitat.  We keep the surrounding foliage thick and green; we provide watering sources; we’ve built a few bird houses; and we set out little things to ensure that the birds have an easy time acquiring their nesting material.  Now my blue heelers are currently shedding.  They actually have two layers of fur that help keep them both warm in winter and cool in summer.  But during this time of the year their shedding is at full throttle.  So we’re constantly brushing the dogs in order to help them (they love it!) rid themselves of their winter coats.

As I’ve related in other posts, we live in a birder’s paradise.  Deep South Texas is probably the number one birding spot in the USA.  Three flyways converge on the area.  And Neotropical birds extend their northern range to this region while shore birds are in abundance and desert species abound.  So all we have to do is step onto either our front porch or back porch and sit with binoculars and in the course of a lazy afternoon we might see as many as fifty different species of birds.  So anyway, a few minutes ago we were brushing our six heelers and we set the brushes on a table on the front porch.  We happened to look out and there, not more than a few feet from the window were eight titmice (the black-crested titmouse) busy plucking dog hair from the brushes.  In a matter of minutes the brushes were cleaned thoroughly so we brushed the dogs again and left the brushes on the table.  As I write this the titmice are busy cleaning every bit of fur from those brushes.  They’ll use the ultra-soft dog fur to line their nests.  And in a few weeks we’ll see the young at the feeders and watering stations.  And just to think, an hour and ten minutes to the south and the traffic is horrific, the noise horrendous, the congestion stifling and not many titmice in sight.

Two of my blue heelers:
Pita in the background and Oy in front

Link to photo of Black-crested Titmouse.

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