Communicating With Wild Birds - Part 4
by Gitie House
Your wild birds already think of you as a wonderful person. They've been observing you for ages, everytime you freshen their water, refill their seed trays, or play with your pets, and know that you are kind and caring. Once you make friends with a wild bird, you'll find that they treat you with intelligence and care. You become part of their extended community and they begin to let you into their amazingly rich and intricate social life.
Talking to the birds, observing their individual personalities and quirks, understanding their feelings, helps us form a basis for developing that special personal connection. Having a personal connection with individual wild birds and their families gives them the opportunity to show you their unique natures and their incredible capacity to do something for you. Even birds traditionally known for aggressively protecting their young like magpies and plovers, start treating you as friends and will trust you near their fledglings.
How can we get them to not react with fright and attack us in return when we are trying to help them or we inadvertantly do something that appears scary to them? The key to gaining their trust lies in developing that personal connection. The more they know that they matter to us, the more likely they are to listen to us, show us their concerns and overcome their instincts to trust us. Below are some of the ways in which one can show them that they matter to us.
They Know They Matter To You - When You......
- Call them by their name and ask after their friends by name. When they aren't around you ask their friends to fetch them. Parent birds especially like you asking about their children.
- Arrange another safe place for them to get a drink or feed because you notice that changes in the environment or territorial boundaries prevented them from using the existing facilities.
- Scold the pushier birds who may be edging them out trying to grab all the opportunities for themselves. Size is not always an indication of aggression. Some of the smaller species can be very cheeky and successfully chase the bigger, shier birds away.
- Check that they are okay, particularly after a storm or stint of bad weather. Birds have a very strong sense of making sure that their flock are all safe and accounted for each day. They check to see if all their family and friends are settled safely for the night and call out to those who may be still about until they return or darkness falls. So they really appreciate your concern as it shows them that you think of them as part of your family.
- Take pictures while talking to them. Once they get used to seeing you put this big box next to your eye and hearing the camera click they will stay while the camera is aimed at them. In fact they feel hurt if the camera is aimed only at the others and they miss out on being the centre of attention.
- Visit their nests and call out to them from a safe distance. Most Mum and dad birds love welcoming friends to see their hatchlings, provided you follow the rules to ensure that the birds do not perceive you as a threat. Firstly you must not be intrusive ever. Make visits to the nesting tree and talk to the birds from a fair distance before the breeding season begins to show them your interest in their lives. Feed the birds to show them you care. When the eggs hatch, help the parents feed the bubs by giving them food especially in harsh conditions. Give the food at some distance from the nest tree, so that when scavengers come to pick the leftovers they are not crowding the bubs in the nest. Keep up your communication with the birds by talking to them while they eat, and when the chicks fledge the parents will bring them to visit you.
- Scold them if they are naughty. Birds have a code of conduct and follow rules within their own communities. Surprisingly, even the shy and flitty birds who flutter off at the slightest movement will stay and listen to you when you're pointing out the rules you want them to follow. Talk to them and their family and explain to them what it is you want them to do, as often as you can. Birds are much more intelligent than most people would believe, but their method of communication is different. Some times it can take them a while to figure out what it is you want, but they will try with amazing results.
- Make them feel safe and comfortable when they are worried. Predators in the surrounds, lack of food and water, sick children, missing friends, death in the neighbourhood affect birds as much as human. They need reassurance, comforting and consoling. Acknowledging their needs makes them feel loved and understood.
- Do not react with fright to them. Sometimes a bird will get frightened by your movement or something you're wearing or doing. For example, the colour and patterns on your clothes, while of no concern most of the time, can cause some birds to react. Birds eyes and brains are finely tuned to see colours and patterns differently from humans. This enables them to recognise each other individually quickly and at great distances. Even crows, for instance, who seem just odd shades of black to our eyes, have unique shades of dark browns, dark purples and many other hues forming very distnctive patterns to the eye of a bird. Birds also use their wings and tails to form shapes that convey certain messages. If the clothes you're wearing indavertently carries a threatening pattern the bird may react with fear even though they know you. In such situations it is best to talk softly and gently to reassure them that you're still their friend, while moving away from them. Do not force your company on them if you find that its upsetting them for any reason, even though you may not recognise the reason. Instead try again later. The birds will gradually learn that you are 'safe' regardless, or else you will be able to identify the item or action that's causing them concern and make the necessary changes.
Friendships with our avian friends, like all good relationships, has to be nurtured. Developing and keeping trust is an evolving process. Each species has its own characteristics and each bird is unique. The more you talk to your new feathered friends, the more you will learn about them and they will open their hearts and take you on a fascinating journey of discovery filled with love and joy.
In the next part (Feb 09 issue of Wild Bird Talking Ezine), we will look at 'Making Time For New Friends', in more detail, as with all relationships it's quality not quantity that makes the difference. For the previous parts click on the links below:
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