About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Photo Share: Cardinals sing and Hawk pellet dissection

My car was the victim of a vicious pothole. Actually it wasn't so much a pothole as it was a place where the road buckled to create a solid ridge just enough to knock something loose. The good news is that it is now light enough in the morning that it is possible to walk safely to and from work.

All the way in I heard the cardinals staking out territories through song: "This is my yard, My yard, My yard" and a return of  "No it's not, No it's not". Song plays are an important role as male cardinals establish territorial boundaries. Neighboring males often engage in countersinging (singing at the same time or alternately) to convey information. Sometimes one cardinal will match a song of a particular cardinal neighbor so that he knows the song was directed at him to stay off my territory. If that doesn’t work the intensity of the message can increase with longer songs and a greater number of syllables and ending with a harsh trill. These grrrrr trills are added to songs when other males approach too closely. If one or the other doesn’t back down, a chase may ensue. It is pretty early in the season yet so I didn't hear anything so intense. For me it was just a lovely serenade on my walk to the store.

When I made it to the front door of Wild Birds Unlimited I saw the bird bath had frozen over night, and someone left me a little surprise on top of the ice! We had a young Cooper's Hawk visit earlier in the week and I think this was his pellet. Dolly (cat) and I did a little paperclip dissection of the pellet and found some feathers, leg bones, and what looked like the gizzard and seeds from the remains of a House Sparrow.
A pellet, in ornithology, is the mass of undigested parts from some bird species' meals that are occasionally regurgitated. The contents of a bird's pellet depend on its diet, but can include the exoskeletons of insects, indigestible plant matter, bones, fur, feathers, bills, claws, and teeth. Hawk and owl pellets are grey or brown, one to two inches long, and range in shape from spherical to oblong shaped. If you find a pellet it is recommended to microwave it first to sterilize it before study.
Sources:  
Wild Bird Guides-Northern Cardinal by Gary Ritchison
Wikimedia Commons Pellet
Watch Northern Cardinal singing on the edge of spring https://goo.gl/p78xER
 

Related Articles:
How birds chew food without teeth
https://goo.gl/Xgm9dF 
Where birds go when it rains https://goo.gl/An12ea 
When do Northern Cardinals Nest? https://goo.gl/jwbh9q 
Cardinals begin singing for mates https://goo.gl/mh4gTJ 
Do cardinals mate for life https://goo.gl/WiMg8f

No comments: