Orgy on My Patio

Today’s guest post comes from Clyde in Mankato.

A few years ago my son gave me a book which summarized what we know about behavior of the myriad of American bird species. We know the easily observable, such as nests, eggs, migration. We do not know the more difficult to observe, such as territorialism, cooperativeness, life span, causes of death, and how monogamous various species really are. Studies suggest that, contrary to what is told, most species are not monogamous. When a clutch is analyzed, which ornithologists only rarely do, eggs usually have different fathers, which makes sense for the gene pool but destroys our anthropomorphic images of birds.

To study these behaviors for one species would require many hours of close observation of many individuals to describe the common behaviors.

Despite all the time I have spent in the woods around squirrels and chipmunks, I know little about the domestic life of either species. But for three years I have watched a colony of squirrels by my patio. Squirrels are quick learners, very adept with their forelegs, and have good memories. They have memorized the superhighways, off-ramps, and local roads in the trees, which I can observe in the leafless winter. One squirrel learned to cut the twine holding an ear of corn. I then put small ears of corn in a suet feeder. She became very adept at manipulating the corn to extract kernels, food which is hers and hers alone.

Second pix

Because they have accepted my presence on my patio, I have observed much mating behavior in birds and squirrels in the last three days. The second round of parenting has begun. Yesterday several small birds courted and mated in the trees, and a pair of squirrels tumbled and rolled in the grass a dozen feet from me before consummating their fervor, several times.

Above them a second pair of squirrels courted on a large tree limb, the limb shown in the header photo. One squirrel, male I presume, cornered a second squirrel, female I presume, at the farthest end of the many branches on the limb. They faced each other down for a minute or more. She could have easily dropped three feet to the ground. She did not. Instead she jumped to another branch. He found where that branch joined the tree and backed up to sit there. She leaped to another branch. He back up again. This happened several times until she had backed him up by the ropes, where no more branches grew from the limb.

They stared at each other from eighteen inches apart for another minute. The next courting move was—pun intended—anticlimactic. She ran right over the top of him and into the canopy. He followed in—pun intended—hot pursuit. Go ahead: anthropomorphize this behavior.

If I had the resources and time, I would sit in the great art museums of the world to study the art and to observe the passing humans and their reaction to the art. Fifty years ago I did this in the Chicago Art Institute. Most people’s reaction to most art was indifference.

If you had the time and resources, what would you sit and study, or ponder?

80 thoughts on “Orgy on My Patio”

  1. I’d sit, study and ponder: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”. So many questions arise from a simple phrase. Why create in the first place? Where is the interface between matter and energy? What are the smallest building blocks used in the creating? How much wood could a woodchuck…? Give me a million lifetimes and that wouldn’t be enough to study all creation. To know it all would mean I am God but let me please aspire to semi-Godhood and know a little about a lot.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. I once sat down to write a book to answer the question of why pheasants behave as they do. It was a bold act, for I didn’t know the answer. I just knew that all previous explanations were wrong. By dealing with them I hoped to at last understand things better.

    After all the pondering, I came to an understanding that deviated from anything expressed before. What I saw was that all earlier explanations failed to understand that pheasants (like Clyde’s squirrels) are intelligent and flexible. Not surprisingly, earlier writers assumed that all changes in pheasant behavior were the result of things humans did. I finally understood that pheasants not only learn from experience but can access lessons learned by other pheasants.

    It has been amusing to watch as science fumbles toward a new sense of the remarkable abilities of birds–and other critters–to learn and adapt. We are the most arrogant species in history. Yet we are slowly learning that the other species are smarter and more resourceful than we imagined.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. More like, what wouldn’t I ponder? There’s so much I’ve forgotten since my leisurely thinky days of college, and even more I only got a taste of before getting distracted by life or other projects. I’d dig into philosophy again, spending more time with the ancients, study the history of magic (starting with Hermeticism and working forward to the Golden Dawn), brush up my world mythology and history, and, with any luck, die with a good book of poetry in my hand.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. When I first was on my farm and began “adopting” animals, I spent a great deal of time watching the goats, chickens and horses. Then I would draw and paint them. Then I got a “real” job and time to spend watching was limited. Now I am back at the farm during the day, I still don’t spend much time watching goats, horses or chickens. But there is a lot of bird activity in the tree outside my screen porch this morning. But I wouldn’t make a good scientist, I do get restless and move on to other activities, watching the animals and birds out of the sides of my eyes.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. Friends in Oregon have posted many photos of the many and various hummingbirds that visit their feeder in Oregon. I trust you will have lots of birds to contemplate…

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        1. For PJ: not really. I have a strong hunch, but just that. One reason for putting up a feeder is that I need these birds to sit still to let me see them better. They are mighty quick and skittish. I have tried twice to find someone in this huge apartment complex who knows birds. So far, no luck there.

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  5. Good morning. I would like to learn to speak spanish. To do this I would need a lot of time. I have trouble getting english right. I know it would take me a long time to learn spanish. I think I could do it if I could have the spare time needed.

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    1. I saw s meetup group where they got together and spoke French over coffee with the sole intention of helping people become fluent in French
      Maybe there’s one for Spanish too

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Morning all! When I was still in the software business, I used to travel with my boss on occasion. We used to make up stories to suit the behavior of our fellow passengers. Airports are great places for people-watching; unfortunately people are often stressed out in airports and it makes their behavior more interesting. But the State Fair is my most favorite people-watching place – just fascinating to sit on the curb or a bench for a bit and see everyone going by!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. (liked this from another browser and it likes me. Hmmm, Firefox 33, what have you done? And does anyone else ponder why Firefox has new versions so frequently?)

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  7. I do miss having the time to contemplate, but grab at what I can.

    Note to self: if forced into sedentary life, instruct s&h I must be ensconced in a place with access to contemplation of nature.

    Took a quick looksee at the estate yesterday-no idea what the huge plants that have overgrown it in 2 weeks are. There is squash in there somewhere. I did get a few weeds yanked out. Afraid setting aside time to get it all in order is not going to happen this summer, just have to grab at a bit when I can.

    As with contemplation, better than nothing.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. The only bad question is the unasked one.

    Any one have issues with the storms overnight? Everyone and everything OK?
    We had the most amazing continuous lightning and thunder for about 20 minutes.
    Lots of wind and 1/2″ of rain, but a constant rumble and continuous lightning about 2:30 AM.
    I stood in the garage door watching and pondered that.
    It was amazing!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. We had cloud cover. My son called about 11 to suggest that I go look out the window because he knows i love the lightning storms
      But last night itches like camera flashes going off in the next room
      I went out again an hour later but it was the same

      Liked by 1 person

    2. The forecast was scarier than the actual storm, although the lightning was wild. Weather Center said we were getting a strike per second. No damage here except for sleep disruption due to the scaredy cat Irish Setter.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. A couple of branches down, but nothing large. No damage that I could see. Rain was heavy, though; almost two inches, some of it still on my basement floor.

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        2. Since the basement tends to wetness, I try not to leave anything on the floor that would be ruined by moisture. Mostly it’s just messy and annoying.

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    3. Every time that there’s a rainstorm, I risk my life. There’s a flat roof surrounding my pitched roof and a little door leading out of the hallway. Directly below a portion of the flat roof is a long flower box overflowing with plants/flowers.

      I’ve long since learned that if the gutter above the flower box clogs up, sheets of rain start cascading down and uproot the flowers. Each time this phenomenon occurs (and it’s always in the dark), I carefully walk out to the edge of the roof and manually pull out the clog. The problem is that the flat rood rubber turns into a greasy surface when it’s wet. As careful as I’ve been, I’ve slipped and landed on my butt. I’ve grown so anxious about going out there that I shake like a leaf when I come back in.

      It does make me question which is more important; my life or my flowers!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There must be a way to prevent the clog. Is it the flowers clogging it up? Or leaves and such? No one wants you walking out there in the rain doing this.
        Your LIFE is more important!

        Liked by 2 people

        1. CB, you’re supposed to respond to this so we know how to fix it for you?
          [tapping my foot] … I’m waiting…!

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  9. I visited with friends this weekend and once again received a strong recommendation that I focus on something and stop having an interest in everything then as the weekend went along I talked about how I had a project on that category or pertaining to that idea and they would ask what it was and I would explain what my deal was and it was often unrelated to the last two or three ideas we talked about and they realized that my circle of stuff in less defined and more spurts tic than theirs. I told them my inquiring nature left me an inch deep and a mile wide and the thing I would study sit and ponder would be a little like the Minnesota weather, if you want something different just wait a minute or two
    Art music theater are fun but social good improving the way the world works always holds interest. I had someone point out that lots of my inspired ambitions evolve around making things better. I see something and see s better way to do it and research if the interest/ possibility opportunity to build s different model is a good way to go and then that gets listed as something in my bag of tricks and goes along on the path toward implementation or off into oblivion depending on the circumstances
    This week
    water
    Lighting
    Distribution models
    Furniture design and fashion are the ones that rise to the top
    As my friends were giving me flack for multi modal involvement I mentioned my hat business like that was the same as mentioning a credit card in my wallet and they groaned…. My hat business……..
    Well I do have a hat business and I enjoy it and I’m sure I will have w hat business. My children will need to deal with when I die. I will try to educate them because evidently the difference between s hat and a super fantastic hat is not as appearant as I assume
    The twenty or thirty 1000 dollar hats should go in a different pile than the 25 dollar hats. There are hundreds of 200 300 dollar hats that are in boxes Roth photos details and description listed for hat whackos who care about my stash. I don’t really need to study them it’s kind of like the car thing mentioned the other day, once you enter into the world of hats, mushrooms, seed saving etc… You pick up an amazing amount of kbowledge in an area of interest in a relatively short amount of time
    A novice to an expert can be a blink of an eye. If it takes 5 years , you were going to be diddling around with something or other for that 5 years anyhow . Enjoy the journey and set some goals. If you don’t the 5 years goes by and nothing got plugged in
    If you keep track and give yourself a check mark on the progress you will be amazed

    Liked by 2 people

    1. “like”

      (can anyone tell me why I can’t make the ‘like’ button work? And does it have anything to do with the fact I don’t stay logged in on here? Something with cookies on my browser??)

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      1. I do stay logged in, but I have sporadic trouble with the “like” button as well. Also, occasionally, I’ll type in a response, and the “Post Comment” button doesn’t work. Have no idea what’s up with that.

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        1. This a response to your comment below, PJ (there’s no reply tab). It worked because intense studying, researching, talking to survivors, interrogating my doctors, and a sheer fascination with the process kept me immersed rather than feeling like a victim.

          Liked by 1 person

      1. i dont know
        i had coffer today with a dad whose kid went to school with mine. his kid is a studious math head who is not a great people person . he went into chemical engineering and graduated with great grades and thought at he had a job wired. now he is looking and at getting his masters and going to texas to chase the oil industry. i told him of my aquaintance who went into that field and made huge money uon graduation. the dad said he was encouraging his son to pursue the opposite of the financial end of the pursuit spectrum. i asked him in chemical engineering what would that possibly be? i enjoyed chemistry but it didnt ever get me excited . it was in fact steve a dull area of study.
        i was reminded of the talent in the world where there are teachers who can make science really exciting. and remember mr wizard.

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  10. I am about to start a study: how many times Jesus talks about sexual morality versus tending to those in need. I am guessing about a 1 to 10 ratio.
    I have been pondering how long the Twins can keep this up.
    Ben, storms missed us.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Husband is a life long learner and is always taking interest in the most varied and, sometimes, obscure, topics. I remember his avid interest in the history of the Whig party a few years ago. Thank goodness that is over.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Human nature, what makes us tick, what makes us different from each other. As in: how can two people have the same experience and see/remember it so differently?

    Time – the more I delve into this, the more complex and incomprehensible it is. Does it exist or doesn’t it?

    How will I get the lid off the antique salt shaker I found over the weekend at a garage sale?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Can’t help you on the first two.

      The salt shaker – is the lid metal? And is the salt shaker metal? Sometimes if you gently heat the shaker, or put it in the freezer, metal will expand or contract and make it easier to open.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. About nine years ago, I was asked to be on a national talk show. The subject was older women dating younger men, but that’s a story worthy of a Trail guest spot. Three of my granddaughters and their mom flew to NYC on the producer’s dime. The second day, while my daughter napped, the four of us ventured out into the city. It was overwhelming to say the least. Four mid-westerners in the very hub of this kinetic, fast paced life. So, we just sat on a fountain bench, fed the sea gulls, and watched New Yorkers.

    What we observed was amazing! They were all dressed in black; they were all leaning forward while walking; and they all were on their cell phones. I’m exaggerating just a little saying “all”.

    At the time, I’d rarely been out of Minnesota, much less flown alone to a bustling big city. On the flight, I couldn’t understand what I was seeing out of the window, so I asked the person next to me, “What is THAT??”
    He said, “That’s the ocean”. I didn’t even know that NY was on an ocean.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Long long time ago a radio station had a contest where you sent them your five favorite songs and if they played them in that order and you called in during the last song, you won $102. (It was 102 on the dial).
      This song by CCR was song #4 on my list.

      1) Led Zepplin, Stairway to Heaven
      2) Springsteen, Born to Run
      3) The Who, Who Are you
      4) CCR – Looking out my Back Door
      5) Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody

      I did win; Used a pay phone outside a restaurant to call it in.
      I remember picking long songs to give me a better chance to hear them.

      Liked by 2 people

  14. PSA – Mavis Staples will be performing tonight with Beasley’s Big Band at the Como Park Pavilion at 7 PM (for free).

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    1. I saw her sing at a college concert when I was a junior. She was just one of the family then, not the star. Her dad, Roebuck Staples (I believe), had so much fun he wouldn’t quit playing. A son finally silenced him by pulling the plug on his electric guitar. Fun concert.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. My oh my. I don’t remember how we got onto The Oxbow Incident last week, but I just got it from the library and watched it. Holy hotrod, it’s SO depressing!

    Like

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