Posts Tagged ‘Border Collies’

What Happens if You Forget to Feed the Birds

April 24, 2009

We are often asked if forgetting to fill your bird feeders matters to the birds who frequent the feeders at your residence.

This cannot happen at our house; the Border Collies won’t allow it. Feeding the birds at our house requires coordinated teamwork.  A minimum of one human and three Border Collies is necessary,

Border Collies Feeding the Birds

Border Collies Feeding the Birds

As far as we are able to tell, it is the job of the first Border Collie to see to it that the human who actually fills the feeders goes to the appropriate places in the correct order with the right seed for each feeder.  The second Border Collie herds the first to insure that he makes no mistakes herding the human.  The third is a general purpose back-up in case of mistake.  Mostly though, her job is to herd the second Border Collie; Border Collies seldom make mistakes.  All three remind us daily to feed the birds, so we never forget.

Apparently, the job of bird feeding is more complicated than letting the chickens out of their coop each morning.  Only one Border Collie is required to oversee that job.  And, at the same time, he checks the property to insure that no cats have snuck onto the property during the night.  In this way the dogs minimize the risk to the birds of domestic cat attacks, one of the leading causes of song-bird death.

The breeder who sends us our Border Collies is either a Border Collie in disguise or the world’s greatest expert about dogs. As she teaches, “Border Collies know 150 separate commands and they make you perform each perfectly.”  She also interprets their behavior and empathizes with them.  It must not be easy, she says, to have to live with such dimwitted beings as humans who have to think before they do anything.  Always thinking; seldom acting: That’s how dogs see us.

So, for us, it is a hypothetical question of what happens to the local birds if we fail to fill the feeders; as we said, the dogs won’t allow it. But not everyone has a team of dogs to remind them.  What happens if you forget?

No one knows for sure, but the answer is probably not much — at least during times of good weather.  The birds who frequent your feeders are opportunistic feeders and feed on a wide variety of plants, seeds, and bugs and will survive without your feeders, especially if there are other feeders in the neighborhood.  If you forget one day or are gone for awhile, they’ll be fine and will return to your feeders as soon as they notice they are filled again.

rubythroathummer65That is not always true during times of harsh weather.  Mounting evidence indicates that some bird species are not migrating because of the availability of human supplied food during winter and the shoulder seasons of early spring and late autumn.  Significant numbers of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, for instance, no longer migrate to Central America, but remain in the Gulf Coast region of the United States during winter.  There is no doubt that supplemental food helps non-migratory birds survive winters.  And, as we always remind people, providing fresh water is at least as important as the food you put out.

But how you are going to feed your birds without a team of Border Collies is simply beyond our power to imagine.

White-wing Doves Evolving

July 9, 2008

It is rare for a being which is deeply stupid to know it is deeply stupid and want to be smarter. But that dissatisfaction must be how life evolves from lower to higher states of consciousness. White-wing Doves are a case in point.

We’ve watched them try to figure out how to eat bird seed from a squirrel-proof bird feeder. This involves climbing all over the feeder, hanging upside down on it, pecking at it, much head-tilting and a lot of study. Soon, they are going to figure it out.

Last week a friend gave us one of those black pre-molded plastic ponds. We dutifully dug a huge hole for it, down through the rich topsoil in the garden and directly into the cement masquerading as dirt beneath. Following the easy instructions, we then went off to the local supplier of goods for ponds. Much is required: A pump, a fountain, water-lilies, nitrogen-fixing plants, one three-inch fish per each square yard of water surface (two in this case), food for the fish, food for the plants, and other essentials.

We purchased all this and took it home. The plants were fine and the pump worked well; too well, in fact. Our little pond contains about 250 gallons of water and the pump moves 300 gallons an hour which, according to the lady who sold it to us, was what we needed. The pump disagreed, shooting water upward and outward with far too much exuberance. It was moving at least 50 of those 300 gallons right out of the pond.

So we returned to the pond supply place to get something to diminish the pump’s enthusiasm. That turned out to be a diverting valve to which we attached tubing for another water outlet. The tubing is attached to fake turtles, fake rabbits or fake frogs which spout the water from their mouths.

Before investing in a fake turtle, we thought it best to go home to see if the diverter idea worked. It did. The spray was much lower and all the water stayed in the pond. That meant yet another trip to the store for the fake turtle. (The books which assure you that these projects only take, for example, four hours don’t count the fifteen trips to the store to get one more part you didn’t know you needed. Or another water-lily.)

Finally the pond was working. We buried the power cord and drilled holes in the fake wood stump where the fake turtle now sits, gushing water into the pond with a delightful sound.

Then we fed the fish. That interested the Border Collies which are already evolved. They like the fish food and we’re not so optimistic about the long-term survival of the fish either.

Border Collies also like fresh cool dirt. The pile of dirt removed for the pond apparently was not in the right place so, while we were inside, they rearranged the dirt pile, shoveling a lot of it directly into the pond.

They didn’t like the words we used when we discovered that, so they let us bail it out and clean it up by ourselves.

But now the pond is working just fine and everybody is happy. It is attracting all manner of wildlife, including birds and frogs (Or are they toads? I must learn the difference; I’m trying to evolve too.) The Hummingbirds fly into the fountain’s spray and the turtle makes a nice perch if you are a House Finch.

The Mourning Doves enjoy the pond too. Unlike their cousins, the White-wing Doves, they walk right up to the edge and have a drink. But as I said before, the White-wings aren’t very smart and I watched one for ten minutes this morning. It walked nonchalantly around the pond, glancing at it often. Then it climbed up on one of the pieces of sandstone on the edge of the pond, casually lifting and stretching one wing and then the other. Then it backed down and studied the situation for a while. A Mourning Dove walked by and had a drink. The White-wing hopped up on the bucket we used to bail out the pond and studied some more. Then it hopped down and went right up to the edge of the pond but a drop of water must have hit it because it startled and flew off. Half an hour later, it was back; still studying. As far as I know, it still hasn’t had a drink, but I’m confident it will evolve a bit further and solve this problem too.

Birds and Border Collies

February 12, 2008

Border Collies aren’t just for sheep herding anymore.  Do you have some ducks you need moved?

Or perhaps you operate an airport plagued with birds.  Birds can be fatal to airplanes.  Perhaps you have a distinguished guest coming to visit and you need to keep the runways free of birds.


We’re searching for the photo credit and will post it here when we find it.

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