Bird Angels?

Birds Around The House.

We all have guardian angels, of that I’m convinced with all the incredibly silly things I’ve done over the years. Someone must have been watching over me or I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this. But my question is, do animals have guardian angels? Or more specifically, birds?

The reason I pose this conundrum started with my garden birds and their continual quest for procreation; then the curious behavior in recent weeks between of one of the many sparrows here and a pair of nesting zebra doves.

No part of my small garden is immune to the breeding habits of the local bird population. I shake out the kitchen mats and am greeted by the irritated calls of the bulbuls nesting in the little Lady palm next to the back door. I empty the trash can and am bombarded by the zebra doves nesting in the palm overhanging the bin. I look up as I hang the laundry out to dry and am greeted by the tilted heads, gimlet eyes and mischievous faces of the numerous resident mynah birds nesting in our roof space. (Their raucous calls I’m sure are telling all their relatives I’m out of the house so they can safely nip inside and thieve the fruit or dog food). I throw the bedding over the upstairs verandah railing and am confronted by the indignant call of the little sunbird protecting her eggs in the gossamer nest hanging from the bougainvillea just 6 foot from our bed! And I mustn’t forget the ubiquitous pigeon, they who insist on nesting in the most idiotic places in the dry season thus filling the gutters with their nesting 'rubbish' (have you seen a pigeons nest?!) and blocking everything when it rains. They who poo all over the upstairs verandahs when they’re quietly sitting on the window ledges having a gossip each day. They who must ‘go’! In a country that’s decimated their native bird population for food, I cannot understand why there are so many of these awful pigeons. The one thing we eat and enjoy in the West is pigeon, be it in a pie, casserole or something more French and exotic, we eat it. There’s a lot of protein in a pigeon but the Thai’s seem to ignore the wretched beast and let it thrive often to the detriment of their crops. Everyone Thai person I ask has no idea why, they just shrug their shoulders and trot out the usual “mai khao jai” (don’t know).

The garden is full of birds too. Further out into the garden there are nests of various other local birds in up to 35% of the trees. It’s a happy paradise for all of us. We try to keep the local farm cats out of the garden, or rather, our ancient Labradors do. They love nothing better than to ‘exercise’ the mangy moggies, usually first thing in the morning when we take our first tranquil turn of the day round the garden. Tranquil? Well it was until we hear Pippa snorting and flying at speed between the trees and catch a fleeting glimpse of white fur as the cat makes its escape across the back wall!

Cats are not my favourite animal as you can see. They are the biggest killers of birds on the planet (here I quote Bill Oddy on the BBC’s Spring Watch programme circa 2005) and yet people insist on keeping these dangerous killers and allowing them to breed at will. They aren’t even affectionate! They give nothing back for all the love and attention lavished on them by their ‘slaves’ and they only make a fuss of you when and if it suits them or when they want something from you like food! Give me a canine any day as a pet; undying love, affection and devotion. Their sole purpose in life is to please you and they will work alongside you til they drop, no matter the weather or conditions. There’s no sulking if your later back than you said, just a wonderful heartfelt and warm greeting that you did come back. What a mate! What a friend!

Birdies

Zebra dove nesting.
Zebra dove nesting.
Thailands sparrows.  Was one of them our little guardian Angel?
Thailands sparrows. Was one of them our little guardian Angel?
The thieving and mischievous Mynah bird waiting for me to forget to close the mesh doors!
The thieving and mischievous Mynah bird waiting for me to forget to close the mesh doors!
Mynah birds again
Mynah birds again
Yellow Vented Bulbul, one of our commonest birds, and they always nest close to the house and get really cross when you interrupt their feeding regime
Yellow Vented Bulbul, one of our commonest birds, and they always nest close to the house and get really cross when you interrupt their feeding regime
Thieving pigeons
Thieving pigeons
Magpie Robin.  Our resident robins also come indoors.  They also attack their image in the window or the car mirror,  - aggressive little fellas!
Magpie Robin. Our resident robins also come indoors. They also attack their image in the window or the car mirror, - aggressive little fellas!
Gentle zebra dove.Maybe she needs a guardian angel!
Gentle zebra dove.Maybe she needs a guardian angel!

Silly Old Birds. They need looking after.......

But back to the garden and all the avian friends to be found there. The occurrence I’m about to relate has only happened in the past few weeks and to our knowledge we’ve not witnessed it before in the three years we’ve lived here.

Our breakfast is always a leisurely affair taken on our front verandah overlooking the garden. We tend to do several jobs from 6 am when we get up, to breakfast time around 9. Walking the dogs, watering the garden, laundry etc. etc – you get the drift - all the mundane but essential things of the day.

But about 3 weeks ago, we were pruning our mini 'jungle' and my husband called me over to watch a little zebra dove precariously perched atop a twiggy nest on a non-to-safe, browning palm branch. These birds are a bit retarded in many respects, they can’t seem to see that the palm branches actually fall off once they start going brown! No ABC (Antecedents, Behavior and Consequences) psychology for these little fellas and definitely no collective avian memory it seems. So the nest duly came down with the branch a few days later, and the eggs perished of course.

The next thing we espy is the little dove, nothing daunted, making a new nest. This time though it was on the third branch up of a palm tree. This one at least had the chance of still being there by the time the eggs hatched. And it was right above the verandah so we could see her every move as she and her ‘husband’ diligently and tirelessly made their next nest, canoodled, laid the eggs and sat. I wish I could say it was a work of art like the lovely nests of the local sunbirds, but it wasn’t. It was just an untidy collection of twigs perched on a downward pointing palm branch. Only the roof tiles stopped it from sliding off.

Now the curious part of this story was the action of one little male sparrow. He sat on the opposite branch just above the nest (branch 4 this one) and just watched. He didn’t sing or flap his wings or move; he just watched intently. This was all the time we were having breakfast, some 45 minutes or so. Did he stay all day? I don't know but my husband said he'd seen him there each time he'd been past. This continued every day, with the eggs being laid, the chicks hatching and the continual feeding of the chicks by the parents. Until the day the two fledglings found their wings and took off with their parents last Friday. And all this time, the little sparrow was there (or at least every breakfast time and whenever we remembered to look).

Now, logically you may ask, was it the same bird? We have around 10 to 15 sparrows at any one time in the garden so couldn’t be sure of course. They also nest in close proximity to where the dove had nested, just in the roof space above the verandah, so was he really protecting his own nest space? The really curious thing about this behavior was the sheer intensity of this little bird. It was really intriguing. He watched the dove without moving. It’s not the normal behavior of any bird to be still for long during the day, especially in the tropical heat of Thailand; they need to feed; they need to be continually alert for predators; their energy is enormous, they are always busy. And birds do not interact between species apart from the danger alert voices they produce to warn of imminent danger – and this can alert anyone, humans included. Our mynah birds are wonderful snake alarms and make the most strident alarm calls if one is around their garden.

So, was this little creature watching over the doves to keep them from harm? Was he real or was he really their Guardian Angel we wondered? Who knows? Nature really can present us with some remarkably strange things at times, and we know so little about the ‘realms beyond’ it would be difficult to hazard a guess. It happened and we were lucky to witness it day by day.

Life is fascinating in all its aspects and long may it continue, we really don’t want to unravel all of its breathtaking mysteries and leave nothing to be discovered. Mysteries and Discoveries are the very essence of life. Without them, life would indeed by poorer.

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Comments 7 comments

Peter Dickinson profile image

Peter Dickinson 7 years ago from South East Asia

Fascinating. Much enjoyed...except I like cats as much as dogs ;-)

To add a dove story. I was once having lunch when a dove landed on a chair just opposite me and placed a twig. She disappeared twice but each time returning with another twig. She then sat and laid an egg. The whole episode was all of eight minutes... if that. I agree doves are a bit mental.


Mountain Blossoms profile image

Mountain Blossoms 7 years ago from SE Thailand Author

Sorry about the cats Peter - much influenced by Bill Oddie I'm afraid, and watching the little beasties around our old house where we had a huge bird population. But glad you enjoyed. Have just put some more pics on. Still having great probs downloading my own so had to use Flickr - really brilliant site. Loved your looney dove story too. They're so pretty but not too bright eh!


dohn121 profile image

dohn121 7 years ago from Hudson Valley, New York

Great pictures! That's quite a collection you have. Thanks for the lesson in bird watching, as I don't know one from the next unfortunately but am learning.

I speak a little Thai being that I am Lao. Both Thai and Lao derived from the same language so, wouldn't this be more accurate MB?

I don't know: Mai hoo

I don't understand: Mai kow jai

Let me know. About cats, I don't particularly liked them, although I don't dislike most animals. Someone once told me quoted me the following and I stand by it always:

Dogs treat you like family,

Cats treat you like staff.

Hope you like it!


Mountain Blossoms profile image

Mountain Blossoms 7 years ago from SE Thailand Author

Thank you dohn121. I know the cat/dog comments are controversial but I'm with you , especially your quote.

No, the answer - 'mai khao jai' is the answer we get if our neighbours don't want to answer. They'd never admit to not knowing!!


oliversmum profile image

oliversmum 5 years ago from australia

Mountain Blossoms. Hi. I absolutely loved reading about all the Bird life and their habits.

You are so very fortunate to have so many beautiful birds in your garden.

Thailand sounds like a wonderful Country to live in.

My knowledge has improved from reading your hub.

Thank you so much for sharing part of your life with us.

The photographs are wonderful. Voted up and Awesome. :) :)


Mountain Blossoms profile image

Mountain Blossoms 5 years ago from SE Thailand Author

Really appreciate your comments OliversMum, it is a lovely country to live in. You may enjoy reading the one of when my sis-in-law and a friend went hiking up north - it was great fun and none of us are youngsters anymore!!

Reading some of your hubs has inspired me to get on and write some more about our lovely family back home too, so watch this space as they say.


anusujith profile image

anusujith 4 years ago from Nilambur, Kerala, India

good hub. Beautiful photos.

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