Signs of Spring

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All photos are ©2004 by Dave Palmer, and may not be used without permission

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The Beast in the Cactus...Revealed!

It was a bird, a mockingbird to be exact (I could tell it was a mockingbird, because every time I came near, it would yell out things like, "hey Ansel Adams! Nice camera! How many skee-ball tickets did it cost you?"). This particular type of bird uses camouflage rather than flight in dealing with intruders. When something approaches the nest, it skootches down into a non-birdlike shape and then just freezes. Even when you're just a couple of feet away, it doesn't move a muscle, hoping that you don't recognize it as something edible.

And when I came by one day when the bird happend to be gone, I found a clutch of eggs...

...which soon hatched into four little fuzz balls. At first, I thought the chicks would be impossible to photograph, because they were just little gray blobs that didn't move at all and were all but invisible in the nest.

Then I accidentally bumped the cactus, and the vibration made the chicks think it was feeding time:

Several days later, their eyes began to open, but they still
hadn't learned to freeze when strange creatures came near.

But a week or so later, the camouflage instinct had finally kicked in, and they finally started hiding when I came near.

A week later, with feathers starting to grow, this one has
mastered the art of scrunching down and hiding...

...but the parent birds still perch on nearby objects and squawk
at me when I'm near the nest.

Another week, and they're almost grown.

PLEEEAASSEEE don't eat me!
Shortly after shooting the photo to the left, I came back to the nest
and found this guy perched up on the side, wishing he could fly.
When I showed up, he instantly regretted his decision to come out
of hiding, but the instinct kicked in and he remained absolutely
Is that the most pathetic little birdy face you've ever seen?


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