My stepmother Toni (Antonia) loved birds.  She probably spent more money on seeds for her flying friends than on her own food budget.  Of course much of this bird seed was turned into squirrel food by hoards of these thieving little furry critters.  There was one cardinal who returned the favour, and use to steal the nuts meant for the squirrels.  The urban backyard really is a jungle, not for the faint of heart.

I came across some stories about our amazing avian friends.  If someone calls you birdbrained you should take that as a compliment.

Do you put out food for birds?  Do you think as wild animals it is best to let them fend for themselves?  Do you have any bird stories you would like to share?

1) French artist Céleste Boursier-Mougenot has gone one step beyond recording bird songs.  He placed guitars inside a walk-through aviary at the Barbican Center, one of Europe’s largest multi-arts and conference venues.

He has strategically placed plugged in electric guitars as perches and cymbals containing water and seeds as feeders. As the birds fly around and land on the instruments, or even wipe their beaks on the strings, the visitor will hear the amplified results.

The full article in the Guardian by Mark Brown:

A video of the result:

2) I may not know why the chicken crossed the road but some crows in Japan do it so that passing cars will help them crack their nuts.

From a great blog about birds, Bird Brain:

On a university campus in Japan, Carrion crows and humans line up, patiently waiting for the traffic to halt.

When the lights change, the birds hop in front of the cars and place walnuts, which they picked from the adjoining trees, on the road. After the lights turn green again, the birds fly away and vehicles drive over the nuts, cracking them open. Finally, when it’s time to cross again, the crows join the pedestrians and pick up their meal.

If the cars miss the nuts, the birds sometimes hop back and put them somewhere else on the road. Or they sit on electricity wires and drop them in front of vehicles.

I could certainly use a memory like the Clarke’s nutcracker, a type of North American crow.  It collects up to 30,000 pine seeds over three weeks in November, then carefully buries them for safe keeping across over an area of 200 square miles. Over the next eight months, it succeeds in retrieving over 90 percent of them, even when they are covered in feet of snow.

3) As the following article in the Christian Science Monitor states attracting song birds will enliven any backyard.  They give my stepmother many hours of enjoyment.

“The backyard can seem barren and bleak in winter. But there’s an easy way to brighten your backyard and fill it with color and song this winter – charm songbirds looking for an easy, reliable food source.

Birds are the most accessible and abundant of wild creatures that live among us, and every home – apartment to estate – can offer them a safe way station to refuel. To attract the greatest number of birds, choose feeders and foods that suit a variety of wild bird species.

Now is a good time to choose a location visible from your favorite window; to secure feeders with sturdy brackets, poles, or hangers; and to arrange convenient storage for your seed and supplies.”

They recommend the following site as a good place to start: