The other day we were sitting on the back porch of our friends Richard and Rose Ann house. It was mid-afternoon and their porch is a sanctuary from the sun and wind that time of day. We had just installed a new hanging feeder to replace one torn down by a bear last winter. Rose Ann was chatting with us about, what else, birds. Richard was sitting nearby working on a computer with the windows open to the porch. Rose Ann mentioned she had just read a NY Times article about interspecies communication between birds. I had just read the same article and the day before and had discussed it with Burt. You can read the article HERE.
Scientists in Missoula, MT had recently discovered precise interspecies communication between birds. If you spend enough time outside and pay attention it is no surprise that birds talk amongst themselves and that they talk across species lines. What the new research revealed is not that the birds eavesdropped and heard warnings from other birds. What was surprising was that the studied birds were actually saying very specific things. Instead of saying, for example,”Hey, look out!” the birds were saying, “Look out there’s a goshawk.” The species threatened by a goshawk took note and made evasive action. If you were a bird too small for a goshawk to bother you could ignore the warning. The scientists were able to do this by computer analysis of the warning calls. So what sounds pretty much the same to human ears sounds distinctly different to bird ears. In fact, some birds of prey might not even be able to hear the warning calls. The other surprising fact was that the calls travel by way of relay (neighborhood dogs barking) at speeds up to 100 mph. That’s amazing. So the three of us were discussing this. My conclusion: Only the slow, stupid or deaf are being eaten.
So there we were three merry nature lovers marveling at some new facts. In the midst of our discourse the Mexican Jays caused a ruckus across the creek. They started squaking and screaming. We could not see them but laughed and wondered what had them riled up. Then I heard the most annoyed cat sound come from between the bird screams. A kind of halfhearted roar. It sounded annoyed. I said, “Listen. It’s a mountain lion.” A moment of disbelief from my partners was followed by consternation that there was a mountain lion grumbling a few yards away and the birds were in fact harassing it while we spoke of bird communication. A few more roars ensued. They grew faint as the jays gave chase. All the commotion moved downstream. I swear I heard the lion say, “All right already, I’m leaving.” The jays responded, “Good riddance to bad trash.” Jays are not polite birds.
Meanwhile today the Gypsy Carpenters partook of some itra-species and inter-species communication. We played music for the 3rd annual Friends of Cave Creek Canyon (FoCCC) garden party. Our friend Buzz sat in with us. Buzz is a deeply religious man and we don’t share similar views on everything but we adore (or our side of the equation, anyway) each other. We love music, hunting, roaming the west, homegrown eggs, self-reliance, food, Montana….I bring this up because I think it’s important to share the world with lots of different people and be open to having positive experience with everyone. Buzz has tried to bring me to Jesus a couple of times and I don’t mind. He has only love in his heart. I hope he remains patient with my un-believing self. Some many of you have and I appreciate the respect. It goes both ways for me. I told Buzz today I appreciate all his prayers on my behalf.
Below is a picture in black and white by (I think) Jackie Lewis. Buzz is in the background playing his spoons. In the foreground are Bob and Gloria. Bob is 96 and Gloria is 92. Bob nearly danced himself off the porch today. I’d hate to have been responsible for life threatening injury. Gloria always asks me to sing Leonard Cohen’s Everybody Knows. She is one hip chick. All of us are having a wonderful time sitting on a porch.