Birder's Eye View

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Did you know...? ... and other thoughts

Did you know Valentines Day originally celebrated birds? Well, that's the story, anyway.

In the 14th century, Geoffery Chaucer wrote a poem for a royal wedding, entitled "Parliament of Fowls." While this piece of epic poetry spans for pages and pages, telling some long, convuluted story, its direct reference to birds can be find halfway through:

For this was Saint Valentines Day,
When every fowl comes there to choose his mate,
Of every kind, that men may think of,
And that they began to make so huge a noise,
That earth, and air, and tree, and every lake
was so full that there hardly was space
For me to stand, so full was all the place.

The poem goes on to describe dozens of birds gathering on Valentines Day: Doves, Goshawks, Owls, Cranes, Starlings, Robins, Sparrows, Swallows, Eagles, Cormorants, Lapwings, etc. Although the poem is written in old English and is hard to fully understand, it is really an incredible piece of work.
Now, on a completely and utterly unrelated subject...

There were tons of birds on my feeder today. It's really warming up outside (70s), and the Titmice, Cardinals, and Chipping Sparrows are extremely active.

I set up my camera on my windowsill, and tried getting some close-ups. Most of them didn't come out, but I got a couple amusing shots.
Little Chipping Sparrow... cute, eh?

Tufted Titmouse, trying to break into a seed. It's pretty cool how they hammer away at it until they break the shell!

This is my favorite: I was about to delete the picture, thinking the Titmouse flew away before I got the shot, when I noticed what was looking through the birdfeeder at me... :-)

Happy birding!

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