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Word of the Week: Passerine

Today’s word is:



Sciency Definition: A member of the order Passeriformes, the largest group of the class Aves.

Or I could have saidPerching bird.

What’s it do?  Members of the order Passeriformes are the perching birds, which include more than half of the living species of birds. They each possess feet adapted for perching or clinging. “Song birds” are all passerines but not all passerines are song birds; song birds just have the best use of the muscles used for creating vocalizations (the syrinx). Some song birds, instead of singing, create an incredible range of sounds including clicks, croaks, and mimics of sounds they hear in their environments.

Example sentence: Despite being categorized as passerines, crows and ravens do not use their syrinx muscles to produce songs.

Baby scrub jays might be passerines, but they have a song only a mother could love!

To see a video of one of the greatest passerine mimics on the planet, click here to watch a video of the Australian Lyrebird in action.

Scrub Jay Nostalgia.

Came across some photos this evening that I don’t think I posted of the Brothers Jay back in spring before their release. These images depict some of my favorite things about birds: the tenacity they have in wanting to fly and shit wherever they please, how they must – if they are forced to be in the presence of a two-legged – sit on that two-legged’s head, and how, regardless of their lack of human-esque forms of affection, the site of two birds huddling together as they slept can warm the cockles of my little heart. Thanks for sharing this with me folks. :)

Hipstamatic Scrub Jays!

I’m not at all much of a techie, but I finally joined the nerd movement and downloaded the Hipstamatic camera app on my little-used iPod. The schtick of this app is that it basically takes photos like an old Holga, messing with depth of field, color saturation, and format, and making all your photos look like they either 1) were taken in the 1960s or 2) went through your washing machine.

I’m a photographer-wannabe so I’ve been playing with the new app this morning. It’s kinda fun, don’t you think? It reminds me of flipping through my mother’s photo albums of when she was my age, traveling through Yosemite National Park with her true love.

They’re not exactly National Geographic quality, but at least you can see the babies getting a little bigger (and the eyebrow! I love the eyebrow!). Happy happy Wednesday!

Day 8.

I don’t know how people handle being parents of tiny, helpless humans. I officially applaud you.

I’m sick, have done 10 hours of overtime this week (with another several hours coming), and am insanely fatigued, but the little blue babies still come first. I’m proud of myself, quite frankly. Through the sniffling, sneezing, naps, and long days at work, I’ve still managed to keep them alive. (I’d like a parade now. With some chicken soup.)

I apologize for having the audacity to post about them without accompanying photos but I just didn’t have the energy. They’re amazingly larger than just a couple of days ago. Their bodies are really filling out and expanding to catch up to the size of their feet and they’re generally becoming much more independent. They’re taking far less food from me – it helps that they’re fat, according to how thin the keel is beneath the breast tissue – and instead of begging for it open-mouthed, they’re starting to prefer picking it off the forceps.

Bubba is still not really good at determining food from poop. He carried poop around in his mouth for a couple of minutes this morning, evidently convinced that it would become palatable with time, but eventually spit it out when I put some food on the ground in front of him. I was really hoping he’d learn the whole poop lesson a little quicker, but he’s at least turning into an agile flier. Gump is making up for all the times Bubba stood bullying upon his back by chasing him around and pulling at his feathers. They are tolerating me less and less and do not want to be handled, which is a fantastic sign for their future release. They squawk, they explore, they shit, they eat things they shouldn’t eat, and at the end of it all, they hunker down next to one another and tuck their beaks beneath their wings for a nap.

Learning to be a bird is exhausting work.

Mornings with Blue Jays.

June 2nd, 2011

This morning I awoke to the stirrings and twitterings of Bubba and Gump. Boy, were they ready to take on the day. I took Gump, who was being awfully spunky, out of the cage and placed him on top. Last night they both spent some time up there with Bubba throwing down a little dance move that told me he wanted to try flying, but wasn’t quite sure where to go. At some point, they started making a raspy little chirping noise that I hadn’t heard before. It coincided with me sucking air through my teeth at the dog, but I’m not sure if the two are related.

Feed me!

This morning it was Gump’s turn. He crouched, stood up, crouched, fidgeted, and leapt! His first flight!

Oh hai!

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