Bird Nerds

Us?  Bird nerds?  You must have us confused with real ornithological enthusiasts.  It is true that we have our bird-watching binoculars at the ready and since May, 2022 (when we read our first bird watching book – Mike O’Connor’s hilarious and informative “Why Don’t Woodpeckers Get Headaches”) we have served up pounds & pounds & pounds of sunflower seeds, but other than that we have only accumulated:

  • 5 bird reference books
  • 3 bird posters
  • 3 bird baths
  • 1 bird feeder
  • 1 nesting box

Us?  Bird nerds?  I am not sure we aspire to nerd status, but birdwatching has turned out to be a lot more fun than we could have imagined pre-May 2022.

We comment upon our bird feeder visitors – 
We probably know about 2% of what bird people know about birds, so our amateur observations may understandably provoke criticism:

Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal:  our resident senior citizens (through the binoculars, they look pretty shabby, poor things, but they are a class act).  Very dignified, they perch for a moment, take a sunflower seed, fly off.  We give them an “A”.

The Chickadees:  we think of these cuties as the “little sports cars” of our backyard birds.  Compact and swift, they perch for a moment, take a sunflower seed, fly off.  We give them an “A”.

Our Tufted Titmouse:  this soft looking, dear bird seems to keep himself to himself.  He perches for a moment, takes a sunflower seed, flies off.  We give him an “A”.

Our Mourning Dove:  we haven’t seen this handsome bird perch on the feeder –  he seems content to dine on seeds that have fallen to the ground.  This bird is quiet, sweet, appears thoughtful, and we have to give him an “A”.

And finally, THE FINCHES:  house finches, purple finches, American goldfinches.  These birds hog the feeder and spit seeds all over the place.  They are like the non-productive workers that hang around the office water cooler.  They are like the relatives you wish you didn’t have to invite to the wedding reception.  We give these birds a “C-”, and that is a gift.

Rome Antics”, by David Macaulay – how clever is this book? 

  • the pun-intended title and a homing pigeon tie page one to the final page  
  • the exquisite illustrations of the architecture of Rome, presented pigeon-style (upside down/sideways/twirly-whirly)  

My son and I enthusiastically read this book 3 times in a row to appreciate Macaulay’s efforts.  A+ all over the place.

Big Birds – Speaking of birds, we did get out the measuring tape to see for ourselves the wingspan of some REALLY LARGE birds.  Example:  the Laysan Albatross – 82”.  Whoa.

Current Re-Read – “The Penguin Lessons”, by Tom Michell – so much to learn from this captivating non-fiction book – lots about penguins, lots about Argentina in the 1970’s (hoo boy, talk about inflation).  Well worth the re-read.

We’re not just about birds:

Fandex Kids “Ocean” – this Fandex-Kids card deck is surprisingly good.  An enticing variety of sea life presented with skilled humorous writing.  Our favorite entries:  ocean depth zones (new vocabulary “pelagic”, rhymes with “magic”), the coelacanth, giant kelp, giant squid (measuring tape out again to envision this 40 foot wonder), the graceful decorator crab.  If we were employed as Fandex editors we would replace the cartoony illustrations with photographs.  Other than that, fun resource with a most helpful glossary.

Story Problem:  Farmer Brown upgrades the bunk house It is time for Farmer Brown to replace all the bedding in the ranch hands’ bunk house.  For each bed, new sheets (at $75 per set), new blankets (at $100 each) and a new quilt (at $100 each) will be purchased.  If there are 8 ranch hands and Farmer Brown wants  2 sets of sheets, 2 blankets, and 2 quilts for each bed, will Farmer Brown spend more or less than $4,000 to replace the bedding? (answer at bottom of post)

’22  in Review – our academic goal for 2022 was to find the location on the globe of everything we studied.  In all, we “visited” 44 countries.  The only large landmass we missed was Greenland, so this is ASSIGNMENT ONE for 2023.

Classical Music is for the Birds – 

The Aviary, from “Carnival of the Animals” by Camille Saint-Saens.  The suite was composed in 1886, but not published until after Saint-Saens’ death (1921).  He thought his reputation as a serious composer would be tarnished by this “too frivolous” work (of course he was wrong).  A jewel of a performance by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Andre Previn –

The Dove (La Colomba), Ottorino Respighi.  Perfect way to honor our mourning dove.  Respighi based this 1928 composition on the music of 17th century lute virtuoso Jacques de Gallot.  We can hear the dove cooing throughout and we love the magical flute and harp ending –

Bird Feeder Banquet Music –   How about “Tafelmusik” (literally “table music”, composed  specifically to provide light background music while people AND MAYBE BIRDS were banqueting)?  We chose an absolutely delightful piece by Georg Philipp Telemann (his Quartet in G major, movement 4, composed in 1733)(and BTW, Telemann wrote lots of tafelmusik).  We can hear the birds darting to and from the bird feeder throughout the movement –

Welcome to the best part of my day,
Jane BH
(Story problem answer:  Farmer Brown will spend more than $4,000.  He will, in fact, spend $4,400 plus tax)


  1. What a wonderful educator you are! I chuckled at the C- for finches. I live in a building named Golldfinch Lane. Your description of the birds fit many of my neighbors 😅.

    Liked by 1 person

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