Brewer’s Blackbird, Male, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye

Hey Ma, Look at Me! No Wings!

No Wings


Brewer’s Blackbird, Male, (c) Photo by Steve Kaye, in post: Hey Ma, Look at Me! No Wings!

Brewer’s Blackbird, Male


“Hey Ma, Look at Me! No Wings!”

This looks odd.

After all, birds are supposed to fly by flapping their wings. Right?

Well maybe.

Sometimes, a bird will coast like a dart. Then it looks like the Brewer’s Blackbird in the photo.

Here, this bird coasted for about 30 ft (10 m) before resuming its flapping to maintain air speed.

This saves valuable energy.

And birds are masters at saving energy. That’s because spending extra energy translates into needing to work harder to find more food.

So you will never see a bird perched on a branch flapping its wings because it forget to stop flapping them.

Birds are smart like that.

It’s even possible, if another bird saw one flapping its wings, it might call out, “Hey, your wings are flapping!”

Then the forgetful bird would say, “Oops,” and stop flapping.

Other birds will fly with no wings, too.

For example, an Acorn Woodpecker will launch off a branch and coast before flapping its wings.


Acorn Woodpecker, © Photo by Steve Kaye, in post: Hey Ma, Look at Me! No Wings!

Acorn Woodpecker, Male


Some birds protect themselves by flying with no wings.

This creates a random, undulating flight path. Such unpredictable flight makes it difficult for a raptor, like a falcon, to snatch the bird in the air.

And some birds play.

For example, I’ve watched Gray Catbirds fly directly at dense tangles of branches. At the last moment, they’d pull in their wings, thereby darting through small openings. Once in the clear, they’d resume flapping their wings.

Since it’s impossible to take a photo of a bird doing this, here’s a photo of a Gray Catbird on a branch.


Gray Catbird, © Photo by Steve Kaye, in post: Hey Ma, Look at Me! No Wings!

Gray Catbird


Much success,

Steve Kaye


Help Birds Tip

Save Gas

Why: Burning gas releases pollutants, which are bad for the environment and bad for birds. And of course, wasting gas wastes money.

How: One easy trick is: Turn off the engine once you have safely parked.

Some people could save hundreds of dollars per year by doing this.

Normally, two minutes of letting the engine idle is equal to a mile of driving. When racing the engine (e.g., while running the air conditioning), a minute of idling can be equal to a mile of driving.

I once saw a man spend his lunch break napping in a commercial truck with the engine running. After an hour, I’d guess that he had wasted at least three gallons of gas. If he does this every workday, he costs his company more than $2,000 per year.

Here’s an article that offers easy, practical ways to save gas (and money): See 10 Easy Ways to Save Gas


Birding Resources

This outstanding book helps identify birds. See: The Crossley ID Guide: Raptors

It contains dozens of photos at different distances such as you’d see in the field. I recommend it, even if you’re a casual bird watcher.


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7 Comments
  • JoAnne Fleming
    Posted at 19:10h, 23 June

    Fascinating! Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos and insights. Loved the Gas Education too!
    When people grow their AWE about Nature, then behaviours will begin to shift!

    Perhaps this is a stronger, yet softer voice than speaking…….
    We must try new ways of reaching more people! Keep exploring this Model!

  • Thilda Zorn
    Posted at 20:34h, 23 June

    Dear Steve, and also dear JoAnne Fleming! So fruitful! We have to find new creative ways to reach out to people and include them in our environmental friendly attitudes! It is so nourishing to do something for “Mother Nature”, it is healing and it opens the heart. But we have to experience it, words often are not so effective. I live in Guatemala, and it is quite a challenging to find the atmosphere to reach others – but if it works it is so wonderful!
    Well, thank’s so much again, dear Steve! adios, Thilda

  • Bob Franz
    Posted at 21:01h, 23 June

    Gray catbird – beautiful! Steve Kaye says a bird doing something is impossible to photograph? Say it isn’t so!

  • Dr. Lin Morel
    Posted at 21:50h, 23 June

    Loved the pics! What a great example from our
    feathered friends about how to “go with the flow.”

    Imagine a world where there was less drama,
    more play and the willingness to look foolish while
    trusting our innate wisdom. I expect the birds don’t
    judge their process. Imagine if we didn’t judge our
    own! We’d be free to soar in the directions of our
    dreams. I’m in awe of your photos and your
    respect for nature and life.
    PS If anyone can do the impossible with a bird
    photo it’s you!

  • Steve Kaye
    Posted at 08:12h, 24 June

    Good comment. I agree there must be a way to take a photo of a bird darting through a tangle. Let me work on this. I’ll be back.

  • Jo-Ann Coller
    Posted at 09:06h, 24 June

    Love your stories. You should write a book on birds complete with your photos and stories. Readers would love them and you can educate at the same time.
    Jo-Ann

  • Rose Webster
    Posted at 16:26h, 24 June

    If I were a bird, I’d probably hit a pole or tree before I got my act together and started flapping my wings.

    It is incredible how intelligent birds are, isn’t it.

    Last year, I had mourning doves nest above my porch light. And I couldn’t help but wonder about the whistling sound they made when they flew away. Probably to warn other birds “it’s that woman again, look out”.

    Amazing photos (as always) Steve and I love your storytelling.

    Take good care,

    Rose

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