Bird-Brains, My Butt

I love living out in the country where the air is a tapestry of birdsong and our little feathered friends forage busily in our gardens.  We have everything from the drab but melodic Hermit Thrush to the brilliant Western Tanager; the giant and crazily prehistoric-looking Pileated Woodpecker to the tiny Anna’s Hummingbird.  But unlike my blogging buddy Elephant’s Child, I don’t have any beautiful bird photos to show you.

And that’s my beef, right there:  No photo ops.  In fact, half the time I can’t even get to the binoculars.

I’d comfort myself with the knowledge that they’re wild birds so they never stay in one place for long; but that’s not actually true.  They’re not flitting around, alert to the slightest threat.  No; they’re flaunting themselves within full view of my windows, sitting there only a few yards away and preening.  Even the hummingbirds perch for minutes at a time.

But no matter whether they’ve just landed or they’ve been snoozing there for five minutes, the instant I head for the binoculars, the birds fly away.

One might argue that they’re getting spooked when they see my movement through the window.  I’d like to believe that… but I don’t. I can walk over and stand inches away from glass watching them, and they never ruffle a feather.

But just let me reach for the binoculars that live permanently in the corner of the living room, and the birds zip away, never to reappear until I’m at least ten paces away from the optics.

Reaching for the camera is even more futile.  That doesn’t even require any movement on my part — all I have to do is think about the camera and the birds take off.

So not only can they tell the difference between me casually crossing the room on my own errand, and me crossing the room to pick up the binoculars; but they can also read my mind.

Bird-brains, my butt.  Those little suckers are smart, and probably telepathic.  I just hope they don’t decide to organize and attack like Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds.

But if there’s no blog post next week, you’ll know what happened.


P.S. Speaking of bird-brains:  Last night I had a great time presenting Write Your Book At Last at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre.  But… at the end of my talk, I forgot to ask if anyone was interested in more in-depth workshops.  I’ve posted topic outlines on my Workshops page, but I won’t set dates unless there’s some interest.  Please drop me an email if there’s a workshop you’d like to attend.  Thanks!

Exciting news:  The audiobook for Book 2, The Spy Is Cast is now in production!  Its tentative release date is in October, and the rest of the series is scheduled to follow it into audio format ASAP.

And… I’m starting Book 15 this week!  Hooray!  🙂

24 thoughts on “Bird-Brains, My Butt

  1. Oh you’re only on book 15!? 🙂

    I think it’s not only birds that are telepathic. My guess is all wildlife is as it’s so difficult to capture them on camera. I don’t even try binoculars. As a matter of fact dogs are difficult to photograph as well. Every time our Maya is doing a cute thing, she stops from the moment I grab the camera out of the case. Good luck next time. If it’s hot, you might have more luck, since life then happens in slow-motion.


    • Aha! An excellent point. But even in slow-mo, I doubt if my chances would be good. And you’re right — I used to have the same problem when I was trying to photograph my cats all those years ago. They’d be doing something cute or graceful or whatever; and the instant I grabbed my camera they’d flip over, cross their eyes, stick one leg in the air, and start licking their butts. But then, I always knew cats were telepathic. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. They do know…..oh they know and Alfred Hitchcock’s movie still haunts me. Not sure of the specie of bird, but there is a bird that dives at peoples heads when a person walks too close to their nest. Had that happen outside of our office a number of years ago…anytime someone came up the sidewalk by the vine on a trellis (nest home…stupid choice but what can I say…not the brightest bird) the momma bird would dive at everyone as they approached the door…..always made me think of that movie….ugh!


  3. Wowza so much good news here. Yay for the audiobook series and congratulations on the successful workshop!
    I’m with you on seeing the birds. There can be a cacophony if birdsong directly overhead and the birds might as well be invisible to me.


    • Mostly they are invisible, the sneaky little buggers! 🙂 Some of them have excellent camouflage, too — Hubby has given up trying to identify them, and just calls them LBBs: Little Brown Birds.

      So the next time somebody points and exclaims, “Did you see that bird?”, you can just nod and sagely say, “Yep, it was definitely an LBB.”

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think it took me 40-50 tries with a DSLR and telephoto lens to get a photo of a hummingbird at rest in Arizona. (This was at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.) The hummingbird is used to being close to people, but getting a photo of it sitting on a branch is difficult.

    Although I’d like to shoot some birds, and NOT with a camera. My two tomato hanging baskets were eaten over the course of a single afternoon this past weekend! The tomatoes were a bit weird in that they weren’t totally ripe on very top, but the bottom was a nice deep orange. They were there Saturday morning. By evening, gone. I think I’ve officially given up growing tomatoes. (I’ve had everything else from leaf blight and mildew to rats and rabbits…it’s not worth trying here.)

    Despite being in a suburban area, we are a mile away from a larger lake and get a few uncommon sightings here. The nearby Metropark is in the migratory path of many bird species, which brings out the birders at certain times of the year.

    I still want to send these damn Canadian geese back, but nobody wants them. We’re tired of the green Tootsie Rolls.


    • Ugh. Sorry about the Tootsie Rolls. And the vandalized tomatoes. That’s just unfair! It might not have been the birds acting alone, though — they might have been in cahoots with a squirrel or two if the tomatoes vanished that quickly. Suburban friends of ours have taken up a new sport: Sitting on the patio, cool drink in one hand and slingshot in the other. Maybe it’s time for a ‘sporting event’. 😉

      Isn’t the Sonora Desert Museum fabulous? I didn’t have nearly enough time when I visited there; but I did get to the hummingbird enclosure. I’m hoping to go back someday and see the whole museum properly!


      • It was near 100°F (in October!) when we visited the Sonora Desert Museum–I got to see a fair bit of it, but my better half kind of pooped out on me for part of it. I hadn’t seen it since 1987, so most of it was new to me. A very unique experience–it was complete enough that I didn’t feel as though I needed to visit the adjoining Saguaro National Park. Eating outdoors for most of our stay in Arizona was also a novelty, especially the lack of bugs that we have here in the Mitten State (no mosquitos, flies, etc. while trying to eat).

        I don’t know who did the tomatoes in, but I noticed there were dozens of what looked like deflated tomato skins at the base of the plant. It’s not like we’re devoid of water lately either–our yard is FINALLY drying out from the thaw, as we’ve had so much rain, and Lake St. Clair has been at record levels, not expected to drop until next month. I don’t know if our local squirrels are smart enough to steal tomatoes, but they’re dumb enough to gnaw on all of our pathway lighting during the holidays, and they chewed through the wires at a couple dozen places, trying to get the bulbs off because they apparently look like nuts. Which they’ll bury, and forget about. (Someone else with the same problem deduced the squirrels thought the lights were nuts, as they found a stash of the chewed-off bulbs in the crook of a tree where the squirrels were active.)


        • That’s hilarious (or annoying as hell, depending on whether they’re chewing *your* lights). I know squirrels don’t have room for a whole lot of brain in those furry little craniums, but I’d have thought they’d be able to smell and/or taste whether something was edible. Maybe it’s some other type of gremlin, and the squirrels are just getting a bad rap.

          And deflated tomato skins?!? That’s just too weird. I’ve never heard of squirrels doing that. Maybe it’s aliens…? 😉


  5. I have had the same problem trying to photograph birds. They just won’t hold still! I finally figured out to just be patient for a few hours and keep the camera pointed at the same spot hoping that something stays long enough to click the shutter. Still doesn’t happen very often, though.


  6. Birds are malevolent critters and move faster (and less predictably) than greased lightening when it suits them.
    I do love digital photography which allows me to delete a kazillion blurred bird butts and present a rare lucky capture (and pretend all of my shots are that good).
    Looking forward to hearing more about your presentation. No drooling or snoring is a win and a hug is a bonus.


    • Agreed! After reading the news too much I start to feel pretty depressed about human beings in general; but the real-life kindness of strangers never fails to make my day!

      Maybe I’ll start taking the camera with me every time I go out to the garden… 🙂


  7. I wish one of the attendees at your talk would exercise their writing skills and give us an account of it, because you are too modest to be objective! At least tell us how many people you got, if you got any questions, and if anybody was smiling/sleeping/eye-rolling/applauding/fingernail-clipping/note-taking/etc. . . . and we can form our own conclusions 😀

    The birds do seem a bit too nonchalant to be innocent, don’t they? What you need is built-in binoculars/camera on glasses. Don’t have any? I’m sure they’re out there in internet-land somewhere!


    • I’ve been coveting one of those infrared game-trail cameras that are triggered by motion — maybe someday. What I really need is some spy-gear from Aydan’s world! 🙂

      And I think everybody was pretty happy with the presentation – I had lots of positive comments (and one hug from a stranger, which was cool)! Nobody fell out of their chair/snored/drooled/heckled, so I’m considering it a success. I even got a nice little write-up in the local paper.

      But my usual weirdness-magnetism was as strong as ever. Stay tuned for next week, when I’ll reveal all the ridiculousness that my audience didn’t notice. At least, I hope they didn’t notice it. If they did, they were too polite to comment. 😉


      • Positive comments are wonderful – people don’t provide those unless they’ve truly enjoyed it. Looking forward to next week’s post. And wouldn’t a trail cam be great where you have so much wildlife! And you can get still shots from it, I believe, so maybe you need one for your bird-window too 🙂


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