Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Close Encounters Of The Bird Kind

A few weeks ago, I went for my usual afternoon walk along the river near our home. I stopped at the lookoff, which is built high on the river bank.


Taken facing away from the river, so as to capture the cat and shadows of the railing.


This particular day I was facing the other way, looking out over the water. Right away a couple of chickadees flitted into view, and perched in the bare branches of the bushes that grow up close to the railing. One was looking directly at me, at eye level and only an arm's length away, still chattering -- and before I could  do any more than wish in vain that my camera was turned on, he had flown to me and landed on my head.

On my HEAD, people!!

Unsure of his intentions, and not wishing to have my head pecked at or pooped on, I carefully reached up and that was enough to make him fly off. I still don't know what he was after; maybe he wanted some hair or maybe I looked like a gigantic piece of bird seed. It was shocking and delightful all rolled into one.

Not long after that, I had a different kind encounter, this time at a strip mall, the kind where stores are accessed from outside rather than inside the building. I had bought a small bag of chips to ward off hunger pangs until I could finish my errands, and was walking along the sidewalk in front of the mall, headed for my car.

I'd already noticed a couple of seagulls flying around the parking lot, shrieking insanely, as gulls do, and I was feeling sorry for them having to scrounge food in that way and at the same time idly wondering how good their eyesight was. I'm not sure why, because it was very out of character for me to do something so poorly thought through, or to litter, but I decided to test their eyesight by dropping a chip beside the sidewalk, as if by accident, figuring they'd see it sooner or later and clean it up.

They saw it Sooner, and started shrieking even louder to alert all their buddies from the far side of the parking lot. They swooped down, far too close for comfort, and looked at me with their beady little eyes. I started walking faster, but I thought I'd better drop some more chips so they would stop following me and eat instead.

All that did was attract more gulls, so I dropped some more chips. By then I was almost to my car, and walking very fast for an old girl. I swear those gulls were still looking at me as I sat in my car, sneaking the three chips that were left in the bag (it was small, remember? really small). I tried to be completely invisible, not only to make the birds go away, but in case anyone was watching my stupidity.

Not my brightest idea, and not my finest moment. Let's call this encounter shocking and educational.

I certainly know for sure now that gulls have formidable eyesight.


The head honcho of the seagulls was this close to me, but looked a lot less friendly and a lot more focused. (Source: Pixabay)


Have you had any close enounters of the wild animal kind lately?

And did you ever see the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind, which I ripped off adapted for the title of today's post?




44 comments:

  1. As you know I try and encourage the wild birds who visit. And this afternoon had my fingers nipped by a King Parrot. She was happily eating out of the seed bucket. I dipped my hand in to get some seed for another bird - and paid for my transgression.
    Pecking order ISN'T an empty phrase.

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    1. Ouch, EC - how bad was the damage? It must be a bit disgruntling to be the provider of food and yet STILL not at the top of that pecking order.

      I wonder if the King Parrot is capable of understanding the phrase "don't bite the hand that feeds you" :)

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  2. We got out of our car in Australia to look at a 'dead' curled up snake. Our hosts shouted at my wife to get back. It was "probably sleeping and would not like being disturbed!"
    CLICK HERE for Bazza’s devotedly defamatory Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

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  3. Heads are not for birds to be sitting upon. Invariably they will do what birds always do, frequently and often.

    I can't remember if I have seen the movie. I did get your title though. Coincidently I was listening to podcast today that mentioned the movie.

    Very funny about the seagulls and it was all your own doing, of course in the interests of scientific research.

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    1. Yes, it was entirely my fault! I didn't expect the gulls to have a broadcast system in place! lol

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  4. I saw that movie but am not a fan. Too slow for me.

    Glad you got out of there unscathed. I’ve never seen chickadees land on someone’s head. Glad the gulls didn’t do it.

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    1. Me too, Marie! Things could have been worse, eh?

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  5. how exciting to encounter with such enthusiastic creatures through your walk dear Jenny!

    walking alongside the river sounds wonderful to me !

    being close to these amazing birds and animals certainly awake special kind of sensation withing nerves
    specially when it happens unexpectedly

    bird on head how surprising and joyous moment indeed :)

    i think seagulls are never going to forget you for those chips you offered them

    once my youngest son while wandering in park of Islamabad threw some pieces of his samosa front of crows who were cawing around us ,they accepted the offer quickly and few of them followed my son until he put the whole on the ground as he thought crows were more hungry

    very interesting sharing Jenny

    hope to hear from you more often my friend!
    hugs!

    and yes this is POWERFUL AND EXCELLENT SHOT OF SEAGULL!!!

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    1. Your son has a kind heart, baili, to give up the rest of his meal for the crows :)

      I don't think the seagulls will ever forget, either. I haven't been back there since and I'm kind of wary of going, ha ha

      I should have noted that the seagull picture is not mine - I'll fix that now. Hugs to you, my friend!

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  6. In Newport, Oregon, down by the Pacific ocean, on the north side of the river, is a community park. There is a place where 3 street intersect. That is seagull universe. The store back on 101 actually sells bags of chips just for feeding seagulls and many people take advantage of that. I have seen a cloud of seagulls too many to count, fighting over who gets what chips. One can also find a crow or two amongst that blur of birds and I always try to give them a chip or two as well. But they are very slow on the uptake and normally lose out to the gulls.
    I suppose we shouldn't be feeding them but they seem to love it, so whenever I am there I try to give them a chip or two. Daily one can find someone doing it.

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    1. "Seagull universe" - ha ha! I'm surprised that the crows lose out to the seagulls; they both seem pretty aggressive to me. I can tell you I won't be feeding the gulls again :)

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  7. Hahaha. Sorry it's not funny and I bet you were scared at the time, but from now on I suggest you eat the chips yourself and let the seagulls find their own source of food. :D

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    1. Actually it was both scary and funny even at the time, Joey, but I'm taking your suggestion on board whole-heartedly :D

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  8. Feeding the wildlife is strickly prohibited in our city.....good plan I think. Wildlife encountes...no...but I did see some idiot tourits with little kids harassing two Canada Geese with little ones. When people come to this country for whatever reason they should be educated in the dangers of Canada Geese. These birds can break a mans arm.

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    1. As mean as it may sound, I think a policy of not feeding wildlife is better, too - sometimes (often?) the food is not the right kind, and it also encourages more prolific reproduction when food is more plentiful. I didn't know that about Canada geese, but it doesn't surprise me either. They're strong and aggressive.

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    1. I bet that was a little creepy :) I like bats, but up close and unexpected they tend to startle a person!

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  10. How wonderful to have a wild bird on your head, lol
    Briony
    x

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    1. Especially when he didn't poo on me! ha ha

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  11. You learned that gulls are twice as smart as you thought they where. There are areas here where chickadees land on you looking for a handout. They probably thought you should give them a handout. On the other hand watch the pine siskins. There are so many of them and they all land on your head.

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    1. Maybe these ones were used to people in that area feeding them, I'm not sure. That would make sense.

      I'll have to check the internet to see what pine siskins look like and if we have any.

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  12. Some chickadees are friendly and trusting of humans and I've even known them to land on a hand that was holding bird seed. But the seagulls on the other hand can be quite frightening especially in a group! I'm glad you were able to return to your car safely!

    I have had a few encounters with geese as we have many in our area and as it was mentioned above they can be dangerous. When my son was young we were at a lake and he wanted to feed the geese. Unfortunately one chased him and nipped him on the leg. Even though he was wearing heavy jeans it left a quite a bruise on his leg and he learned to keep his distance from geese!

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    1. A hard lesson to learn at such a young age - but I suppose better than a broken arm!

      Yeah, it surprised me how quickly the seagulls massed together. They weren't a bit shy of humans.

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  13. HAHAHA! That was funny. I once had a baby robin land on my head much to its parent's horror. Papa robin was nearby and shrieking with surprise and fear.

    And one time we were walking through a park with the kids when they were very young (we were living in Montreal at the time) and started feeding the squirrels. Before you knew it, it had gone from 2 - 3 squirrels to dozens. I've never seen so many squirrels in one area in my life!

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    1. Wouldn't you love to know what Papa was saying?!

      Nice to know I'm not the only one taken by surprise when feeding nature's "babies" - lol

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  14. My friend Brenda has two birds, Conures I believe? When we were at her house for Thanksgiving, I came back into the room from the bathroom and Brenda tossed one of them off of her hand and it flew straight to my head and lit right on top.
    They apparently like doing that, as I saw both of them do it multiple times that day.
    They also have four cats, who the birds keep at bay with some loud, high-pitched screeching that the cats like even less than the people do because their hearing is sensitive to high frequencies.
    Seagulls are jerks.
    We were at Briana's dentist making a payment once when a couple of ravens were in the street eating the leftovers from a bag of fast food, and a bunch of seagulls started dive bombing them until they gave up and flew off.
    The seagulls didn't even eat the remains of the sandwich, they just chased the ravens away from it, and it was still there in the street when we drove off.
    Having grown up near Humboldt Bay, I've seen a lot of seagulls, especially down where the fishing boats unload, but the worst I've ever seen them was at the county dump south of Eureka. Hundreds of them, all screeching and in feeding frenzy mode, they were frightening to me, and I'm not scared of wildlife, if you don't count skunks, porcupines, or yellow jackets...
    And yes, Canada geese can be belligerent and aggressive. My dad's passion in life was hunting Canada geese, and some times when we drive past the golf course and there are a couple hundred of them just walking around out there, I wonder what he would think about them.

    -Doug in Oakland

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    1. I guess people make good perches if there are no trees handy!

      That was bullying behavior by those seagulls for sure - sometimes animals are as bad as people, not fighting for what they need but just fighting to show others who's boss . . .

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  15. A chickadee on your HEAD! (And you didn't even get pooped on.) That's awesome, and adorable. :-) Seagulls, on the other hand... eh, not so much. I've never trusted those beady eyes and sharp beaks. Not to mention their unnerving tendency to flock together - it's just a bit too much like 'The Birds'. (Which I never did see.) I never saw Close Encounters, either - I was only about 13 when it came out, and I never got around to watching it in later life. Don't know if I missed much...

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    1. I thought the movie was really good, but I didn't have much to compare it to at that stage of my life (early adulthood after a childhood in the country with little access to movies). I'd watch it again, but it probably hasn't aged well :)

      Seagulls look so harmless at the beach, where they're busy getting their food the old-fashioned way, but not so much scavanging fast food in the parking lot! (or as Doug, above, says, at a dump)

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  16. Haven't had a bird land on me, but i did get to snap a picture of an anole lizard that was trying to hide from me and the camera.

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    1. That's very cool! (I was over to your blog and saw your picture)

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  17. Close encounters? Every time I go into the city, where pigeons gather in the mall hoping for food from those who sit to eat lunch or snacks. They'll come right up to your feet and watch every bite you take, hoping for just one crumb, but you don't dare drop any because as soon as one bird picks up a crumb, dozens more home in on the same spot. I have seen that movie a couple of times. If you want to read about a special close encounter with birds, drop in and read Murrmurs blog, you'll find her in my side bar.

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    1. They have some pretty powerful bird radar, don't they? I did read Murr's post; it's amazing!

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  18. or find her at murrbrewster.blogspot.com

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  19. hahaha! seagulls sniff food from miles away and one turns into 100. that's a great story...i can just see it!

    the bird on your head though, thats special. you were chosen <3

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    1. But why? I had no food. WHY, KYLIE, WHY?? :)

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  20. Birds have way better eyesight than mammals do. They need to be able to see things they can eat from great heights, and spot obstacles and predators from a long way off (flying is a lot faster than walking or running). I think an eagle's vision has about sixty times the detail resolution of a human's, at equal distance.

    I've heard of birds building nests from hair, but not hair that's still attached to the creature that grew it. Maybe they're getting more aggressive.

    And as bad as the birds of today can be, remember that their ancestors were dinosaurs. Things could be worse. :-)

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    1. True, true :)

      I knew in a theoretical way that birds must have good eyesight, but now I know it in a much more visceral way.

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  21. fascinating experiment with very conclusive results! i enjoyed how you wrote this, too.

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    1. Thank you for that encouragement, 37p. And yes, very conclusive results :) I won't be doing that again!

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  22. Ha. Are you are turning into a Dr. Doolittle? It's been awhile since I have had an encounter with anything wild. Maybe a squirrel that had been tossed around by our old basset hound. Glad you survived your animal encounters. Have a good weekend.

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    1. I didn't know a basset hound would be fast enough to catch a squirrel! You have a good weekend too :)

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