Snowstorm Soliloquy

What a tale this fellow told me!

Or maybe it was his tail that told the story. I was seated in my usual weekday spot—two hands and one eye on the work computer; my other eye semi-focused on the outdoor goings-on. Which was pretty darn boring today, with all the creatures hunkered down in an eight-degree, blowing snowstorm.

Until that billowy tail caught my eye.

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Feathers and Feelings

You can tell how a crested bird is feeling by watching its feathers.

Uh-oh. Your anthropomorphize-ometer is spinning, isn’t it?  Feelings are an ornithological no-no.

But I’ll argue that it doesn’t take much bird watching to notice the agitated crest feathers of a frightened bird.  Or the smooth, motionless crest on a calmer bird’s head.  If you’re lucky enough to catch their springtime flirting, you may notice that crested birds’ top feathers wag and wiggle in courtship. When they have a family, their nestlings’ crests show visible excitement when mom and dad approach with a meal.

Are the crest feathers expressing feelings? Maybe not, but those top feathers sure seem to convey a crested bird’s state of mind.

I’ve seen plenty of examples outside my window.

A Pileated Woodpecker's crest feathers stand up straight. His mate's crest feathers are smooth and flat.
A male Pileated Woodpecker ends his brooding shift as his mate arrives to take her turn. Their crests reveal which bird is more excited.

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