The Intriguing Pond Heron

Two days ago, I visited a small garden that is near the Western cafe. When I walked into the garden, I saw a friend who lives at the ashram.  For years, devotees have brought her injured or abandoned birds that they have found. She nurses the birds back to health and then frees them. On that day, she was interacting with a pond heron. I was intrigued.

The “hole” towards the back of his head is his ear.

A Welcome Sight

On the morning I arrived in Amritapuri, I looked out the window of my flat and saw two small birds sitting together in a nearby palm tree. They looked like fluffy baby birds although were not tiny. I tried to take a photo but could not get the camera to zoom close enough.

Early the next morning, I saw the same, or similar, birds in the tree. They were usually perched side-by-side but occasionally they separated. This time, I could snap close up photos.

The birds groomed each other.  At times, they were so close that if I hadn’t known better I would have thought there was only one bird in the tree.

At one point, one of them started to open its wings…

… but then tucked them in again.

Then they both flew away. Their wings were pure white and way bigger than I had thought. I believed I had been able to capture a photo of the birds in flight, but when I looked all that was on my camera was a picture of the empty tree!

At least I have the vision of their beautiful wings etched in my memory.

 

To view the previous posts in this series click here.

 

A Surprising and Disturbing Discovery: Part 3

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In Part 1 of this series, I showed photos of the bird houses in my back yard and the nests I found inside of them. I questioned why one of the nests almost filled the bird house. I also wondered why the big one had a flat top leaving no place for a nesting female and her eggs.

In Part 2, I relayed that readers had informed me that it was a wren who had built the big nest and I shared information I had learned about wrens since my first post. In addition, I wrote about what I found when I took that nest apart.

In Part 3, I will share microscopic photos of all ten of the nest’s components and then let you know why I still feel disturbed.

(Note 1: The numbers near the photos below correspond to the numbers at the top of this post. Note 2: You can click on the galleries to enlarge the photos.)

#1

#2

#3a

#3b

#4

#5

#6

#7

#8

#9

#10

While I love the beauty the microscopic photos revealed, there was one material that greatly disturbed me. That was item #10, plastic. I was dismayed to see how much plastic was in the nest when I took it apart.

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I know that birds, fish and other creatures can get sick if they eat plastic. Here is a photo that was taken of the contents of the stomach of a dead albatross at Midway Island.

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Photo Credit: Wikimedia

I have to wonder if the fact that this wren’s nest had a top on it was because the bird was sick from eating plastic and its brain was not working correctly. There is no way to know.

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Shared with Senior Salon and Lets Create a Fine Chain…

A Surprising and Disturbing Discovery- Part 2

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Last week, when I cleaned out the three birdhouses in my back yard, I discovered that the nests inside of them were different sizes.  One had barely been started, the second was 2-3 inches tall and the third almost filled the bird house.

In Part 1 of this series, I showed photos of the bird houses and the nests and questioned why the one was so big. I also wondered why the big one had a flat top; there was no place for a nesting bird and her eggs to lay.

Several people who read my first post told me that the big one was a wren’s nest. One reader thought that the bird houses were too close together and that the wren who made the big nest had chased the two other nest builders away. Another reader joked that the bird who made the big nest must have had OCD! No one speculated about the flat top.

I did some investigation. After looking at photos of wrens’ nests, I realized that the readers were right; the big one was a wren’s nest. From an Audubon Field Guide, I learned that a male wren may build several nests. When the nests are finished, the female wren chooses between them. The guide went on to say that the male may build some incomplete “dummy” nests. After reading that, I realized that it was a good possibility that the same wren had built all three nests.

I took the big nest inside so that I could look at it closer. Once I removed the top layer, I discovered a section that looked like a plug. It was much denser than the rest of the nest.

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I wondered what the plug had been plugging. When I looked underneath the plug, I saw this:

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It sure looked like an area that could have been meant for the female and her eggs!

The Audubon Guide had mentioned that wrens may puncture the eggs of birds that are nesting nearby. It also said that a female wren may leave the male to take care of her eggs, and go nest with another male. I wondered, partially in a joking way, if the female had not approved of any of the nests her partner had built and had taken off to find another male. If that was the case, had the abandoned male decided to plug the nest and add a solid roof on top so no other bird could use it? How in the world had he built the plug? I was left with another set of questions.

After finding the plug and the place that might have been intended for the female, I went back to examining the whole nest. I discovered it was made up of at least ten different materials.

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I separated much of the nest into ten piles. The remainder looked like this.

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I took a sample of this conglomeration of substances  and looked at it under the microscope. I was mesmerized by what I saw. (Click on the gallery to enlarge the photos.)

I had intended to make this a two-part series but have decided to divide it in three instead. In Part 3, I will show you microscopic images of the ten types of materials I found when I separated the components of the nest!

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cropped-senior-salonShared on Senior Salon and Lets Create a Fine Chain…

For last segment go to: A Surprising and Disturbing Discovery- Part 3

A Visitor Came

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This beauty came to visit Advait and me as we were creating a new compost pile in Saraswati Garden today. I believe it is a Dhyal bird.

Advait has been talking to it daily, but he said this is the first time the bird hasn’t flown away. It seemed to me that the bird was enjoying posing for photos!

The breast of the bird is white; as is the underneath portion of the tail. At one point when it was posing, it turned around so I could see the white part of its tail. I regret that I wasn’t quick enough to take a photo.

To look at previous posts in this Amritapuri series, click here.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Optimistic

Two years ago, I put birdhouses on some old posts that were standing in a corner of my back yard.  Last fall, I looked inside of the birdhouses and discovered there was a nest in one of them.

Yesterday when I was talking on the phone, I happened to glance out of the kitchen window.  I saw two small birds flying around the houses.  I even saw one of the birds look inside its potential home.  I was so excited!

I am optimistic that there will be baby birds in the birdhouses this year.

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Written for Weekly Photo Challenge: Optimistic

Weekly Photo Challenge: Early Morning Light

The birds are singing! एताः चटका: कूजन्ति

 When the sun rises then the birds sing. यदा सूर्यः उदयति तदा चटका: कूर्जन्ति

 

Written for Weekly Photo Challenge: Early Bird

Directions:  Get up early and explore the morning light

Feeding a Fledging

I saw this video at Amma’s Toronto programs last month.  It touched my heart so much then.  When I received a copy of it a few minutes ago, I knew I wanted to share it with all of you.

The video came with this introduction:

Recently, a baby bird that had fallen out of its nest was brought to Amma during darshan. After feeding the bird, Amma said that its pathetic condition and heartfelt cries reminded her of all the suffering being experienced throughout the world and how the only way to rid the world of such suffering is through the awakening of compassion: “Children, the tears of those suffering from extreme poverty and other misfortunes, as well as of those who have more than enough materially but are still crying out deep within, can only be dried by pure love and compassion. May that compassion awaken in everyone, everywhere.

Amma feeding a fledgling