Posts tagged ‘just another day in the life’
Happy third birthday sweet boy.
We got a nifty new coffee table. The dogs have decided that they own it.
No coasters required.
When the dogs and I went down to let the chickens out this morning, Audie found a small dead bird and brought it to me. Based on the bird’s size and its bill, I initially thought it was a Hairy Woodpecker, but a glance at the belly told me it was a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. One very dead sucker.
Like the Hairy Woodpecker, the Yellow-bellied Sapsucker is a black and white bird that’s slightly smaller than a robin. The Sapsucker is the only woodpecker with a prominent vertical white stripe down its side. It has a striking red crown and forehead and the bird gets it name from its yellow breast. Both the male and female have red crowns, the female’s throat and chin are yellow-white and the male’s are red. As you can see, this bird is a female.
The white stripe on her side and her red crown are visible here (Audie was really proud of this little prize – and while he held her gently, the boy did not want to put her down, so I humored him and let him hold the bird while I took pictures).
Sapsuckers are common in our woods though we hear them a lot more than we see them. While we’re usually alerted to their presence by the sound of their drilling we’re also amused by their odd catlike territorial calls. And it cracked me up when I read that a group of Sapsuckers is referred to as a slurp.
This pretty little girl was probably killed when she collided with one of our living room windows. She had to hit it hard, because Audie found her a good 20 feet from the window and, based on the profuse bleeding from her mouth, the little bird was probably dead on, or just shortly after, impact. Birds don’t understand that the reflections of world in a window are an illusion and millions of them die from window collisions every year.
Kit Chubb of the Avian Care and Research Foundation published a summary of 397 cases of proven or witnessed window collisions by 80 different species of birds. Birds that died were necropsied, surviving birds were treated. Nearly half of the birds studied had closed head injuries and a third suffered from internal hemorrhaging. Fifteen percent had blood in their mouths and in only five cases did this originate from a brain injury. Over half the birds studied died or were euthanized.
Chubb writes that fatal internal hemorrhages in birds that strike windows often occur through aortic dissection. When the heart decelerates suddenly, the aorta, which is fixed in place, stays put and the two organs are ripped apart (this is same thing that is believed to have killed Princess Di). Death from aortic dissection is almost instantaneous.
No Sapsuckers were included in Chubb’s study, but eighteen Hairy Woodpeckers and twenty Downy Woodpeckers did – and only one of them died. Woodpeckers, Sapsuckers and other piciformes have built in cranial anti-collision systems that protect them from many collisions — but it appears that our little Sapsucker quite literally died of a broken heart…
I suppose you’re wondering why I just posted two different pictures of Audie with a shoe in his mouth. Audie’s shoe fetish is old news here and I’ve got more interesting things to feature in a photo essay.
The thing is – only one of these is a photo of Audie. The other is a photo his littermate brother Cap, who belongs to my friend Faye (she’s an excellent dog trainer by the way). The boys look a lot alike. So much so that when we had both of them at a training seminar when they were about four months old – Faye, Zip and I spent the entire day doing double-takes.
Having Cap and Audie in the same place really messed with Zip’s head. When Cap and Faye walked into the room, Zip’s eyes bulged out and she stared at Cap with the kind of focused, intent energy that only working kelpies and psychopaths can muster. Then, ever so slowly, she turned her head to where Audie was sitting – then stared at him the same way. The utter wrongness of there being two Audies in the universe fried several circuits in Zip’s brain that morning.
By lunch she’d recovered her composure enough to play hall monitor. Note how she keeps her back to the wrongness of the evil Audie But Not Audie Thing on her left.
The boys actually looked more alike in person than they do in this photo. Cap has more bone, Audie is a little taller. The white socks on their feet are mirror images as are their blazes. Audie has a white spot on the back of his neck, Cap doesn’t.
And they have very different personalities – Audie is as outgoing as a well-bred golden retriever while Cap has a more typically reserved English shepherd temperament. And, as Faye likes to point out – Cap is the cute one.
Comparing notes, Faye and I discovered that both the boys like to grab a shoe to carry around when they greet the people they love. The resemblance between our puppelgangers is more than fur deep.
Thinking I’d cure another bout of insomnia with a dose of late-night television I headed for the couch. As I settled in, Audie (who has decided his career path is constant companion) let me know that he had something important to say.
Audie sat and stared intently at me. Then he stared pointedly at the beanbag chair across the room. Then at the floor next to the couch. And he repeated the entire process again. In exactly the same order.
“Mom. The beanbag I like to lay on. It needs to be here, right next to you.”
My dog speaks more clearly to me than most people do. And a lot of the conversations he and I have are like that. Quiet, calm and to the point – but not all of them. When the mood strikes the boy can be quite loquacious…
Loyal, polite and articulate – he’s my kind of guy.
This pair has spent every afternoon for the last two weeks fishing in our backyard. I wonder if they’ve got a nest somewhere nearby?
In other news, Santa brought me a new video camera and here’s the first crappy bit of video I shot:
Since the last time she was here I completely rearranged all the furniture in the living room and painted the kitchen. After walking in through both rooms – surrounded by a whirling vortex of hooting, happy dogs – my friend notices the 1/8-inch diameter bit of tan gunk on the tip of one dog’s ear and the first thing she asks is “What happened to Zippy?”
Priorities. She’s got ’em right.
(Note – the source of the ear gunk was a minor scuffle between Zip and Charlie – a tiny little cut on her ear dripped blood across just about every room of our house before I found the bloody Clotisol. Note to self: keep first aid kit in a more easily accessible place.)