Sunday, May 13, 2012

Another Wonder of My World

Last month I opened the blinds to a startling sight: a tailless Cardinal at our feeder.

I panicked, naturally, while dozens of questions coursed through my brain: How did it happen? How does it affect his flying? Can he fly only short distances and not longer ones? Has his balance been impaired? What do the other Cardinals think of him? How do they treat him? Will his taillessness prohibit him from finding a mate? Or does he already have a mate? What should I do? Who should I call? I was already envisioning his long-term stay with us.

A quick Internet search calmed my heart rate. Apparently, tailless birds are as common as flocks of Blue Jays. I’ve just never seen one. Birds can release their tail feathers, or be frightened enough to lose their tails, when confronted by a predator. It’s called “fright molt.” If, indeed, that was this little guy’s story, then he could expect to have another resplendent tail in 4–6 weeks.

I didn’t bother researching beyond that. I started calling him Tailless and he started becoming a regular fixture at our feeder.

Weird, right? First we had The Stubster and now Sir Tailless. But where Stubby was clearly alone in the world, Sir Tailless often comes to the feeder with a companion: a Tree Sparrow.

I haven’t researched this odd couple. I don’t know whether Tailless is settling for a Tree Sparrow because no Cardinal will have him, or if the two are simply good friends. As you can see in the photo, they talk to one another; Tailless usually has the last word.

Today I decided to name him LuckyBird—for obvious reasons and as a nod to a couple of his captive predecessors, canaries LadyBird and CharlieParkerBird (who is another story for another time).

LuckyBird successfully avoided having his photo taken for a couple of weeks. No sooner did we pick up a camera than he flew away, no matter how slowly we moved. Perhaps he was still on high alert after the tail incident. Finally, LuckyBird started to relax and my husband got the shots posted.

LuckyBird has become our distraction and our pastime. We feel lucky to have him around.

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