Thursday, April 23, 2009

Brown Creeper Boo-Hoo

Well, dear blogging friends and followers, I'm sure you've noticed I've been a poor correspondent for the past couple of weeks. I had a feeling this was going to happen once spring arrived here in southeastern Minnesota and I'm now more eager to spend time outside than sitting inside the house at my computer. Also, my poor old Sophie has developed some "separation anxiety" issues now that I've gone back to work, and my employer has graciously agreed to a schedule change that will enable me to work half-days now in order to spend more time with Sophie. And factor in the Master Naturalist class schedule......well, I think you know where I'm heading here. So anyway, I wanted to let you know that I'm still around, but time for blog posts and commenting has become limited, so I hope you all understand.

Now, to get back to the title of this post.......
This afternoon, I headed down to my sissy's to dig a hole in her front yard so she can get her new purple martin house put up, because they've finally made it back to Minnesota from Brazil! It was fun listening to a few martins flying overhead for distraction while I was trying to dig a 26" deep hole through the limestone buried under her front lawn. While I was digging, my niece was keeping me company outside and she happened to find this little birdie in the flower bed--an apparent casualty of a collision with the front window. As soon as she handed it to me, I knew it was a Brown Creeper.

I was saddened to know that this poor little bird's life had ended, but at the same time, it was quite amazing to hold this tiny creature in my hand and examine it a bit more closely. They're so well-adapted for survival in the wild. Look at this skinny, curved beak--a perfect tool that enables them to search in deep crevices of tree bark to locate a tasty insect or grub for nourishment.

Look at this bird's incredible feet--especially the huge hind toe claw! Perfect for gripping bark and "creeping" up the trunk of a tree in search of food.

I wish you could have felt how stiff and bristly its tail feather were. These stiff tail feathers also help to hold the brown creeper in place as it finds and extracts its food from tree bark crevices.

Its feathers were quite beautiful--even for a little brown and white bird. Look at the lovely markings on its wing feathers. I've only seen a Brown Creeper flying once and it was so fast I didn't even get a chance to notice its wings.

I was sorry this little bird had to die and I hope you don't think I'm exploiting the situation by showing these pictures in my blog. Even though it was dead, I felt honored to be able to hold such a tiny creature in my hand and be able to see up close the physical adaptations that enable this bird to live in the wild.
R.I.P. Brown Creeper

My other plan for this summer will be to help my sissy get a bird deterrent window screen set-up installed so no more birdies will become a victim of her front window (following the excellent instructions presented by Julie Zickefoose in the March/April 2009 issue of Bird Watcher's Digest).


Susan Gets Native said...

Poor little wuzzer....
Don't feel bad about posting pics of this! I do it all the time. : )
They are amazing little critters. I feel lucky whenever I get the chance to watch one creep up, then fall like a leaf to the base of the next tree, then creep again...

Anonymous said...

What a lovely tribute to a little bird, one we hardly see, they are so well camouflaged on the trees. I loved the descrtiption of it.
I will enjoy my brown creepers all the more. Your sissy was so happy to have a brown creeper a couple of weeks.


Lynne said...

I'm sorry it died too but grateful for what you showed us about this bird. I learned something.
Take care with the new job and Sophie. It got so warm today and even toniight the air is soft. One of the things I love the best about summer is the soft night air.

Deb said...

I learned a lot from this post. Thank you for sharing this poor bird!

Mary said...

I've been a horrible correspondent for several weeks. Oh, well.

Sorry about that little Creeper...

Gaelyn said...

The poor bird. It's wonderful you could share it, and with such heart.

Maybe winter is an easier time for us outdoorsy bloggers. Enjoy life.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I fully understand Ruthie. I can't hardly stand to be inside. I hate to waste any of this beautiful spring weather sitting inside.

Poor little BRCR. They are such lively little birds.

RuthieJ said...

Thanks Susan. I think I can appreciate these birds much more after seeing one up close.

Hi Mom,
Jane and I were amazed at how little it was. I never knew either that they had those rust-colored feathers on their back.

Hi Lynne,
I'm loving the spring air too--it's such a delight to go outside and not have to take the time to bundle up anymore and also to hear birds singing all over.

Thanks Deb.

Yeah but Mary, you already have your hummingbirds already and nesting/baby birds to watch--you're definitely excused! :-)

Thanks Gaelyn. Winter is easier to find things to do indoors with short days and cold temps. I always feel compelled to spend as much time outside as I can for the 5-6 months that we actually have nice weather here!

Thanks for understanding Lisa.

Julie said...

Beautiful little bird. I understand those cheap holiday window clings will often stop them from flying into windows.
I understand about the break. Enjoy this beautiful time of the year and give Sophie a hug for me.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for digging that jumbo hole for me. Can you believe all that rock under the topsoil? It's much closer to the surface in the back yard. I had a hard time even getting my APS poles into the ground without hitting rock.
I feel so bad about that brown creeper. I wondered why I hadn't seen him for awhile and thought he maybe moved on to somewhere else. He's not the first bird to hit that window but they usually just get stunned. This little one wasn't so lucky. :(
Your sissy

KGMom said...

Ruthie--did I read "back at work"? I missed the news--you're back at work. If so, wonderful.
Awww--poor Sophie having separation anxiety. Our critters sure do love to keep us around.
I love watching creepers, too. And window strikes, especially when the bird dies, are very hard to take. I will check out the how to guard your windows and in the process guard the birds link.

troutbirder said...

Your should have taken up science teaching Ruthie. Well done!!!

Heather said...

Poor little birdy, but thank you for sharing your bird in-hand photos - they were educational. I hear you about not wanting to spend all your spare time in front of a computer once the weather gets nice!
Have a good weekend!

Meggie said...

Great post, Ruthie! You're a great teacher, I always learn something from your blog. I've been a bad blogger also...too nice to be inside....taking full advantage of the warm weather outside. It got to 85 degrees here today....most unusual! Charging the tractor battery as I sit here. Softball game on the agenda also for tomorrow. Have a great weekend.

Red said...

It's a good learning experience. It's one of those birds none of us would be likely to get a close look at.

Mel said...

Hola Ruthie,
So sad about that little creeper :(
I understand what you mean about the time and posts... I've been away for a couple of weeks, it is hard to keep up some times.
Take care!

Marsha said...

I totally understand the wanting to be outside and not in front of the computer. I think it is our long winters...we crave the outdoors. Poor little BC but it was nice to see those feet and beak up close.

Taos Sunflower said...

wow..thanks for sharing this and giving us the chance to see her/him up close...

Aleta said...

That is a shame that the little bird was killed, but it did provide an opportunity to educate us on brown creepers. We have them around here, but, of course, I've never seen one up close! They are so cute! Thanks for sharing.

Aleta said...

I forgot to add -- I understand about your hiatus from blogging. I'm running into the same problem, besides the fact that I have dial-up which makes it so slow to even open a blog up. But, I am now officially following you so that I won't miss a post when you get a chance to put one on!

RuthieJ said...

Hi Julie,
You're right about those window clings--that's what I use on my patio door and they really help. My sissy's window is huge, but I think we can get something in place to help save her birds.
Sophie's my little lamb--following me where ever I go (she said thanks for the hug!)

You're welcome Sissy.

Hi Donna,
I went back to work (part-time) the last week in March. It started as a Tuesday & Thursday schedule, but I was feeling really disjointed by being there 2 non-consecutive days, so 4 half-days seems to be working out much better and keeps Sophie happier too.
The window screen article is on page 85 of the March-April Birdwatcher's Digest.

Oh Troutbirder, I would have been a really awful teacher! I have no patience with students who don't want to listen to me. I'm sure you remember that frustration, right?

Thanks Heather. We had a record high of 92 here yesterday and I was outside for hours. We're 50 degrees colder and cloudy today, so it's a good day to spend some time blogging indoors!

Thanks Meggie. My lawn tractor is all ready to go in the garage. We've got a rainy weekend predicted, but once it warms up again, I'll probably be mowing around the 1st of May.

Thanks Red. I thought about how bird banders would be able to see a bird like this up close, but I imagine a live bird would be really stressed with all the handling and photographing.

Thanks Mel. I sometimes wonder how I manage to use up so many hours in the day and still not get the stuff done I wanted to. I'm sure you know that feeling!

Hi Marsha,
I think part of it's just that this past winter seemed sooooo long and now that we've got the chance to get outside....well, you know what I mean!

You're welcome Martie!

Thanks Aleta. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I used to read blogs with dial-up too, but it was so time-consuming. I don't know how you manage it, but thanks for becoming a follower.

Criquette said...

Wow! What amazing photos of one of my favorite little brown birds. I almost always cry when I find a bird who met its end in one of my windows because I feel so guilty, even though I put those decals all over.