Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner

Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Day 98 - Bird Instinct of Parenting

Sharp-Shinned Hawk
The first time we noticed that there were hawks that kept screaming at us every time we were out in the front yard, we knew something was up.  At first we just thought they were telling the other hawks they had gotten dinner.  Their behavior is to tell the whole world they have "status" because they can kill and can provide for their families.  But this was different.  They were staying in two trees and wouldn't move.  No circling, just standing and squealing.  Putting two and two together, we figured there must be a nest near by.  We did some research on the internet and found that these hawks were Sharp-shinned Hawks and actually stood guard on what they called a white-wash tree.

This was instinct behavior.  Instinct behavior is defined as the inherent inclination of a living organism toward a particular behavior. This was a tree that "marked" their territory by their white droppings.  The nest was in a different tree.  When we looked at the tree that the hawks were on it was clearly the white-washed perching tree.  We walked back into the woods and found the nest.  The hawks were too young to see.  This was so exciting.

Two years ago, we had found a nest of Sharp-shinned Hawks about one mile away.  We happened upon it by accident when we were riding our bikes and I didn't have a camera.  What was neat about it was the two young hawks were old enough to walk out of the nest of twigs and onto the branches.  They were jumping around branch to branch but were still too young to fly the nest entirely.  Last year, I check out the  same tree and there wasn't any nest there.  This week we rode down and found that they were indeed building another nest!

I took my camera down this week to see if I could get a photo without getting dive bombed by the parent hawk which they are known to do.  I don't know what I'd do if they did dive bomb me.  I can't carry a camera, and an umbrella while riding a bike but I thought I'd take my chances and left the umbrella at home.  As I pulled up I saw the Postman standing behind his jeep.  I'm presuming he was taking a leak but I can't be for sure as he quickly came out from behind the jeep and said he was moving one of the trays of mail from the back to the front.  OK I didn't care I wasn't looking for snakes, just looking for hawks. 

Great Crested Flycatcher
Baby titmouse
The twigs are stacked up and the hawks are preparing to lay their eggs.  Soon.  The anticipation is killing me.  I'm so excited that this year the flycatchers are back for their third year, the chickadees are back for their fourth year, the titmice are back for their third year, but we haven't seen the wrens this year.  The wrens have had two sets of eggs.  The first one hatched five new Carolina Wren chicks on our front door and the second nest yielded two eggs in the garage that overheated.  It was a sad day.

Tonight we got our first good photo of the Eastern Screech Owl.  I'm hoping that he/she finds a partner.  I think it's a male as we learned that males gain status by one of four things: color, a song, food and/or a house. Well he's moved in and has a house!  He has color too, he's an absolutely beautiful bright orange.

The whole family event of building the nest, the father feeding the mother as she lays on the eggs and both of the parents taking turns all day long catching bugs and feeding the babies is a miracle to watch. And it's just instinct.  They just know what to do.  I think sometimes that birds have more instincts of love for their offspring than humans. I've had experiences with human parents of young "offspring children" on one Easter Sunday that clearly was something other than instinct.

Carolina Wrens
Easter is approaching and it reminds me of the day I was assigned the Easter Sunday playoff game of 9 year olds at an offsite facility for Disney's AAU.   As we tipped off, the parents of the one team were yelling and telling their kids to "get" the other players of the opposing team.  They were yelling at us and telling us we sucked.  It was so disheartening because I had given up  my Easter Sunday to officiate this game and it really didn't sound like any Christians were in the stands at 9AM in the morning!  I find that parents of the younger kids turn out in bigger numbers but they are also less educated.  So they yell things that give them the label of I-D-Ten-Tee.  Say it out loud..I-D-Ten-Tee.  Spells idiot.  That's our little inside joke we tell each other what we think of that particular fan that is yelling "over-the-back" (no such thing), "three-seconds" (it resets every time the ball hits the rim - they can have a campfire out there with marshmallows as long as they keep rebounding and hitting the rim every three seconds) and "call it both ways ref" when the fouls are 5-5!

4 Baby Titmice
So at halftime I went over to the fans and said, "I appreciate all of you being here to support your children.  I understand your enthusiasm for your kids but do you all realize that today is Easter Sunday?  The things I've heard from you today are not the reason why I have given up my Easter Sunday to officiate, nor is it the way we should teach our children how to act on this holy day."  They were all silent and bowed their heads in shame and shock as I walked into the locker room.

As we came back out, an elderly man who had been sitting up in the top of the bleachers from that section of fans approached us.  He said, "I want to thank you for bringing to our attention that our behavior was not Christian at all.  I'd like to apologize to you.  I have talked to the fans and we have agreed to act in accordance with the holiday. We are very sorry."  I thanked him.  The right thing to do he realized is to model the behavior we want our kids to follow.  They watch and they listen to everything we do.  I can't tell you how many times I've been with them lined up on a free throw ready to bounce the ball and a parent will yell some obnoxious thing and a player will sag his/her shoulders and say, "That's my Dad, I'm so embarrassed."

Screech Owl
The birds instinctively know what to do not to embarrass their babies. They work hard and provide as role models.  They share the tasks of raising their offspring and encourage each baby bird until their first flight.  It is a marvel to watch them and an honor to learn from them.  If only the bird parents could teach the human parents of the young basketball players not to flip a bird or two.

15 Ways to Build Self-Esteem in Our Children
Show your love - for who they are NOT what they do
Spend time with them
Be a POSITIVE Role Model
Encourage Your Child
Listen to Your Child
Show them they are Important
Give positive and accurate feedback
Create a safe and nurturing home
Allow your child to help
Let your child try
Encourage your child to spend time with other children
Appreciate your child's uniqueness
Use language that builds self-esteem
Have REASONABLE expectations of your child
Encourage your child to be a thinker

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