Thursday, June 05, 2008

It's a wild, wild life

This morning, I awoke to see a blue-crowned motmot sitting in the big tree behind our backyard fence. They are quite distinct birds, and very beautiful. Its long tail was flicking back and forth like a clock, and I knew without seeing it up close exactly the type of bird it was (and I was right -- I love it when that happens! because it so rarely does). We used to have them in our first house that we lived in in Ciudad Colon. They had nests built into the side of a dirt retaining wall, and would zoom in and out of that hole at supersonic speeds. I don't have a good picture of a motmot, but here's one from Wikipedia, in case you haven't had the pleasure of seeing this bird for yourself:

Later this morning, I saw the very first bird ever using the little birdbath that son and I put together about a month ago. This one was a clay-colored robin, Costa Rica's (dull) national bird. I asked esposo why, exactly, Costa Rica chose a clay-colored robin as its national bird when you have such wonderful bird species to choose from: motmots, trogons, quetzals (okay, technically they are trogons also, but you know what I mean), bellbirds, even the little blue-gray tanagers would be more interesting than the clay-colored robin. He had no idea. Anyway. It was so cute splashing around in the birdbath that I forgave it for being so dull. Another Wikipedia pic because I don't have one of my own:

Stumpy Stumpleton's tail has almost completely grown back at this point, and he/she/it (does anyone out there know how to tell the sex of an iguana from a distance?) now actually begs for scraps in the morning! Stumpy hangs out on the roof above son's bedroom, as opposed to the roof closer to the big iguana tree over our bedroom where most of the other iguanas hang out. Stumpy is completely unafraid of any of us, and will sit there on the roof cocking his/her/its head back and forth, until I bring out scraps (this morning it was grapes and watermelon and some cucumber skins and lettuce). He/she/it then runs after the scraps I throw up on the roof, and comes back to the side so that I can see he/she/it is eating them. It's so cute. I am such a big, big Stumpy Stumpleton fan. I will try to get a picture of Stumpy one of these mornings.

Then, later in the afternoon, I heard a loud thunk on the back fence (it's a chain-link fence, fyi, you know, the kind of fence which most birds would fly right through), and then saw a rather large bird flying in the opposite direction. It was a red-billed pigeon, which I now think must be either the dumbest birds in existence or the most nearsighted. This is the same type of bird that flew a good 12 feet into our back porch and into our sliding glass doors, knocking itself out cold and dying in the process. It is a very beautiful bird (as pigeons go), and in fact I do have a soft spot for pigeons, having had two as pets (though Silvio, who couldn't fly, didn't live very long -- Cheska killed him; Claudine lived for a couple of years with our chickens and one day I just went out to find her dead in her nest box). But, but... red-billed pigeons, I don't know what the heck is wrong with these birds. Here's a photo of one from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department:

P.S. Wikipedia says this about the choice of clay-colored robin as Costa Rica's national bird: "In 1977 the Costa Ricans chose the yigüirro (over many much more colorful birds that inhabit the country) as a tribute to its strong and melodious song that always comes during the start of the rainy season. In addition, unlike many of the forest songsters of Costa Rica, the present bird has been familiar to the general population since the country's early history, thanks to the species' tendency to live near houses and settlements." Well there you go. I think I still would have chosen the motmot, or even the red-billed pigeon, if I had had a say in the matter. Ok, maybe not the red-billed pigeon...



  1. Motmot is sooo pretty.. Love the colors and the tail feathers!!

    You mean you and son put a kitty torture device together not a bird-bath. Brap and I have been talking about something for the birds/kitties outside a couple of the windows here (evil kitty momma I know)... :)

  2. Isn't it beautiful? Even more so in person. Their feathers are almost iridescent. Actually that's not a great photo of the red-billed pigeon, either, which is really a beautiful, soft purple-y color.

    Hee hee... yeah, Olivia was sitting at son's sliding doors watching the robin take a bath. We made this birdbath very simply from an old postcard stand we had leftover from the cafe (removed the top and was left with a tiny, flat table), and I just stuck a big, flat terracotta dish on top of that, filled it with water, and voila, a birdbath!

  3. In my neighborhood, the sound one can hear clearly, within a few minutes of the yigüirros starting their morning screeching, is me screaming for them to shut the hell up. I like nature as long as it's quiet until at least 7AM.

  4. Hey Chris,
    Are you sure they're yiguirros? All the ones I've heard do have a beautiful song. Maybe it's something else? I've heard that the prettier the bird, the more awful the song. Or should I say, "song."