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A Bunting Named Piper

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The thing I like most about being able to work from home (besides being able to open the fridge or flop down for a nap or be there for my kids when they're sick) is being there to know the birds in my yard, to be in on their lives.  Piper is our indigo bunting, and he arrived in April and fooled around for a couple of months doing who knows what. Then he got serious in late June and proclaimed his territory from the top of Dump Hill to the farm bell in back to the willow and sycamore on the side, to the ash in the driveway. Our yard was his and he wasn't going to let anyone forget it.

I had watched him all summer in the Bird Spa. Piper was nothing if not a clean little bird.

On hot days it seemed that every time I looked out, Piper was doin' his thing. I stopped everything each time I saw him there. He is so beautiful.

As the summer wore on and the juvenile birds began to disperse from their natal homes, Piper had to share his bath with American redstarts (like this one) and common yellowthroats

and once in awhile even a scarlet tanager!
who of course was in his drab winter plumage. More's the pity.

If it offended Piper to share his bath, he never showed it. Even with four American goldfinches!

It was late summer before Piper and his mate really got going. Other birds, like our yard bluebird, were on their third brood before the indigo buntings began to think about breeding. 
This male bluebird is thinking about taking a bath. See how worn and shabby his feathers look, with gray-brown showing through? 

He'll start his molt soon, as soon as the kids are out of the house and finding their own jobs. 

Not a minute too soon, huh, Raggedy Dad?

Next: Piper and Mrs. Piper get serious.


The spa shots with different groupings are a great educational resource re: size! I once knew a corgi named Piper. Spunky little guy.

The lighting on the first bluebird picture is so lovely!

It's so funny how ragged the birds get this time of year. Here in Utah I see a lot of Black-billed Magpies with skeleton heads because they've molted so severely.

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