Why Do Bluebirds Hate Me?

More Answers to Common and Not-So-Common Questions about Birds and Birding

[Amazon Link]

I was given this book as a retirement present by one of my wonderful (but now ex-) co-workers at the University Near Here. She's a knowledgable birder, while I … well, I have a bird feeder. It's about the only remotely interesting thing I do. Our conversation naturally hit on avian topics now and then, mostly her answering my "what the heck was that bird" questions. So this book was appropriate.

The author, Mike O'Connor, runs the Bird Watcher's General Store on Cape Cod This book is a compilation of his columns from The Cape Codder newspaper called "Ask the Bird Folks".

Mike is pretty funny—imagine if Dave Barry ran a bird-watching supply store. And I learned a lot. For example: if you've ever snuck up on Mourning Doves, you'll know they emit a high-pitched whistle when they take off. It turns out that's not their speaking voice—all they can do with that is coo. Instead, the whistle is emitted from their wing feathers when they are in bugout mode. Which is, apparently, different from the sound of a normal takeoff, so it's used as a danger signal.

Now I do have one minor gripe: Diane from Brewster, MA wrote in about a dead Blue Jay in her yard underneath a power line, wondering if the poor thing could have been electrocuted. As it happens, I've noticed that in my own yard. Every so often dead Blue Jays will appear directly underneath the power pole that feeds Pun Salad Manor. (I know: yeesh.) So I was eager to read Mike's response. Funny, but the bottom line is "I doubt your power lines had anything to do with it." Given Diane's and my common experience, I'm thinking that's wrong.

Also, Dave Barry would have pointed out that "Electrocuted Blue Jays" would be a pretty good name for a rock band.