Friday, April 28, 2017

The Dunnocks

Last night, as Dave and I were watching TV, we noticed two little brown birds swooping through the air over the patio, one hot on the tail of the other. They would perch on the fence, flit down to the ground, forage through the low garden growth for God-knows-what, and then pop back up to the fence. And then chase each other some more.

They moved so fast I have no idea whether one was consistently the chaser and one the chasee. I couldn't even get a picture of the two of them together.

I'm assuming that this was either a courtship dance or two male rivals duking it out. The birds are dunnocks, small brown and gray critters found almost exclusively in Europe (including the UK, Brexit or not).

Here's one perched on the fence, watching as Martin the mouse raids the peanut feeder.

Apparently they're quite adventurous birds. Females may mate with multiple males, and the males have a system to rid the females of a rival's sperm before mating with her. They also sometimes mate with multiple females. Dunnocks are the swingers of the bird world! (Check out this article if you're interested in the details.)

It's Wild Kingdom around here.

In other news, I was interested in the kerfuffle over Ann Coulter's speech at Berkeley -- the one that got rescheduled and then cancelled because of threats of violent protests. Although I personally loathe Ann Coulter and don't see much value in what she says, she ought to be able to speak, and protesters ought to be able to protest her appearance. It's the violence I don't get. The USA is a civilized society (supposedly) founded on the ideals of free speech, right? Why do people -- especially groups from off-campus -- feel the need to take things to a physical level? I don't fault the university for postponing the speech, and I don't fault Coulter in this dispute, even though she's politically abhorrent -- I fault the protesters for creating a dangerous environment.


  1. Thats a new one on me i would have thought it was a wren

  2. I wish I was a dunnock. No roses, chocolates or foreplay and free food from generous humans but I guess I would be a lot more wary of domestic cats!

  3. Not ALL birds mate for life, eh?
    Well, not in the monogamous sense, at least.
    Don't ask me about Berkeley. I don't understand one damn thing any more. I've given up trying.

  4. the US has been trending towards more and more violent for years, just look at our militarized police forces and the mass murders and other gun violence, and Trump basically just gave them all permission to be as violent as they want. the bullies are in ascendance because it's Trump's America now they say.

  5. You really do live in "wild kingdom" territory. You seem to have just as much wildlife activity as I see in the botanical garden.
    I saw the story about Coulter on last night's news. I agree on all accounts especially the part about Coulter being abhorrent. It seems that peaceful protest is a thing of the past.

  6. The tone is set from the top, and just look at the tone of the top. I'm not surprised by the threats of violence, though I am appalled by it. Hard to believe this is our world.

  7. The shot of the bird watching the mouse makes me smile!! I am learning that "little brown birds" of all kinds can turn out to be quite interesting if I pay attention.

  8. You are mystified as to why the protesters from off-campus use violence? In their minds, there is a compelling rationale for the use of violence. Beginning at 24 minutes, the following YouTube video explains the justification used by the so-called Anti-Fascists for using violence.

  9. There are many bird species that are great fornicators. Mallard ducks are guite famous. Some people like coulter have to learn to express their ideas so that they don't cause negative reactions.

  10. from "unknown" Desouza is clearly far right in the guise of an intellectual so I listened with a grain of salt..a whole shaker full actually. Violence in America is a thing, punch a Nazi is a thing, and Ann Coulter perpetuates violence and hate speech. The klan is not readily allowed on campuses either. The instigators of violence in Berkeley are anarchists for the most part. They are not invested in "free speech". BUT ...your birds are cute! And that is a good thing.

  11. John: It's in a very wren-like pose in that top photo, but wrens are more brown and less gray.

    YP: And you know, I just chased a cat off that fence the other day -- no doubt hunting both the birds and Martin the mouse.

    Ms Moon: Apparently not! :)

    Ellen: It's so disturbing. It's easy to resort to violence, I suppose. Then you don't have to have an actual debate.

    Sharon: I guess people get frustrated with the insistence on pacifism, or feel it's ineffective. But I think it's far more effective than violence, which turns everyone off. No one's going to win in the war of public opinion by beating up their enemies and setting fires.

    37P: That is certainly true. The talk about North Korea is incredible!

    Jenny-O: "LBTs," as the Audubon bird-watchers call them, include a wide variety of birds and yes, they deserve attention, too!

    Unknown: I watched that portion of the vid. I understand some of Trump's critics see him and his cronies as fascists, but to me, that doesn't justify violence. In fact, violence renders the "antifas" protests LESS effective. As I said above, they are not going to encourage people to join their cause by getting in fights and setting fires. (And of course I could say the same for the pro-Trump supporters and far-right groups.) The violence is alienating to most people. That's not how you win an argument.

    Red: I did not know that about mallards! I guess I've never watched them closely enough!

    Linda Sue: Ann Coulter should be able to express her crazy ideas just so people can realize how crazy they are! The protesters, by fighting her and her supporters with physical violence, make a martyr of her and elevate her cause. (And I agree about Dinesh!)