Andrea and Terry Grabill answer your latest avian queries
What is a “spark bird”? And, what was YOUR spark bird?
From Rachel J.
A spark bird can be defined as the bird that helped spark your interest in birding, helped you open your eyes to the incredible beauty of nature and, more importantly, birds.
I would have to begin by saying that I have always noticed birds and how beautiful and unique they are. Each of them have their unique colors and details, from the pretty and cute little chickadees and sparrows to the magnificent size and stature of the bald eagle, the floppiness of the flying ducks and geese, to the elegance of flight that the great blue herons and egrets show. That being said, as I was learning to grow as a birder and while practicing more, I began to focus on the different sounds and songs that these magnificent creatures made.
My husband has been endlessly supportive of me and my desire to be a better birder. Once, we were walking by a swamp area near our home when we kept hearing a bird singing. It sounded like a song that I felt I knew, but I just wasn't sure of myself. Terry was chuckling at me because he could see the frustration beginning to build (I tend to put a lot of pressure on myself) when suddenly I got a big smile as I thought I had come up with the bird that was singing... I looked over to him and I said "is it an Indigo Bunting?" He got a really big smile on his face and assured me that, yes indeed it was.. That moment was when I finally realized that I was better at this whole bird thing than I had given myself credit!! From that day forward, I have to say, I finally considered myself a birder... My spark bird is most definitely the Beautiful Indigo Bunting.
I love hearing stories of how people have fallen in love with birds. I have a co-worker who is a pretty terrific new birder and bird photographer. She has grown to be pretty passionate about capturing birds through her camera lens. When I asked her what "sparked" her interest in birding she explained that she was just looking out her window and saw a couple of beautiful red birds chasing and playing in her backyard, she said she just couldn't stop watching them. They were beautiful and they just looked like they were having so much fun and enjoying themselves. Her "Spark Bird"? Why, yes indeed ...you guessed it, the beautiful Cardinal!!
Are domestic cats a threat to birds?
Cats are remarkable predators! Their patient “hide and wait” tactics make them popular “mousers” in homes and barns. Interestingly, they also do not need to be hungry to hunt. Our cat, Pooters, will hunt mice in the basement at night and leave them at our bedroom door for us in the morning!
The effect of domestic cats on wild bird populations can be a point of contention and really “ruffle some feathers”, so to speak. The bottom line is that of all human-produced problems to birds, outdoor cats rank #1 in bird deaths. Tens of millions of outdoor cats, either free-roaming pets or feral populations, kill an estimated 2.4 BILLION birds annually.
I cannot state this more emphatically, I believe domestic cats belong as indoor pets, PERIOD. Allowing cats outside and letting nature “take its course” is a fallacy. Nature taking its course would require us to keep cats away from nature! Domestic cats have no place in nature. Native birds and other small animals are not adapted to cat predation. Cats are not part of the natural world.
To be clear, I’m not a cat-hater. I love Pooters and she tolerates me. But, cats are pets and deserve to be treated as such.
BirdGoober is Terry and Andrea Grabill, of Newaygo. They have been birding together since they met and love to share their passion for birds with people of all ages. Please send your birding questions to the Grabills at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website www.birdgoober.com.
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