Fink Family Farm Bird List

Fink Family Farm Bird List

The only list I faithfully keep is a list of all the birds seen on our farm since we moved here in 1977. I thought it would be fun to ad...

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Birds That I'm Glad Are Not Bigger

First in this category has to be Great Blue Heron. I used to think it was cool that we had a supposedly shy heron eating voles in our fields. But that Heron did not stay in the fields. He (she? but I named it Harry)  now spends most of  his time in our pond, eating newts and frogs. And he is anything but shy. I have a photo of him by the back door... somewhere on my computer. Also in the barn yard. But mostly in our pond. I'm told by a neighbor that a heron (probably Harry) ate their two foot long, prized koi from the koi pond a few feet out their back door. Sad, but herons are supposed to eat fish.

Herons are not supposed to eat poisonous Rough-skinned Newts, of which we have a jillion in our pond. I watched this heron eat three of them one week. Then I put up a trail camera on the pond and saw him catch and eat many more... day and night. He seems to thrive on them. A biologist told me that some ponds may have newts that are less poisonous. Either ours are pretty mild or this heron is immune.

I don't think there's anything a heron would not eat if it could be swallowed. I watched "our" heron stalk a Hooded Merganser. I'm not kidding. I took a whole series of photos. In the last one, the Hoodie had dived and Harry the Heron looked disappointed... or maybe puzzled.

 But worst of all are the trail camera videos. This heron eats Red-legged Frogs! Now Red-legged Frogs are in a bit of trouble, I understand, so I liked to think the ones in our pond were safe. How wrong I was. The video I took of this miserable heron skewering and eating a Red-legged Frog is horrifying. The still capture I took off the video is bad enough.

Take a look at this bird's beak. Imagine if it were big enough to swallow a person. Our Harry has turned from a treasured wild thing into a source of nightmares.

 It's sobering what supposedly innocuous birds do when we're not looking. Last week we watched a female mallard at John Neal Park in Lyons, Oregon, eat a frog. Yes, we saw it happen. I thought mallards ate vegetation! How wrong I was. According to Wikipedia (the source for everything), mallards are omnivorous and have been reported eating frogs. Here she is cleaning her bill after the dirty deed. Her mate stood looking the other way the entire time. Perhaps he didn't approve of her meal selection. I sure didn't.

But mallards don't scare me. A much smaller bird, however, does.

Nothing is quite so belligerant as a hummingbird. Rufous Hummers are beautiful. One male guards the hummingbird feeder outside our kitchen window and attacks any other male trying to take a sip. Unfortunately for me, the outdoor water spigot, which I use often to clean shovels, fill chicken water buckets, etc., is right under that window. Yesterday, the guardian hummingbird attacked me. I ignored it, best I could while being dive bombed by what sounded like a gigantic bee. But when I dropped the hose before turning off the spigot, the hose bounced and sprayed the window and the hummingbird feeder. That was the last straw as far as that diminutive bird was concerned. He went to buzzing me inches from my head and screaming in indignation. I retreated. Yes, they're lovely little birds, but I'm so glad they are *little* birds.

Here is a video of this little fellow threatening an unseen interloper and chasing it off.   Such indignation!

Most birds, no matter their size, seem to realize that humans are at the top of the pecking order. But I'm not sure about herons. And I'm pretty sure hummingbirds don't give a rip.

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