Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I Love Bird Legs!

I love bird legs. They are so cute. Tall ones, short ones, skinny ones, big thick ones on vultures--such tremendous variety, too.

I like catching shots of birds taking off, flying over my head where I can see their tiny legs tucked beneath their body like the tires of an airplane. The legs of House Sparrows look delicate and small when viewed from beneath, then they pop those legs out as they come in for a landing and the tiny toothpicks hold their bodies perfectly. They do not wobble, stumble, or fall, in spite of the fact that their legs are clearly no where near the same weight as their bodies.

Hummingbird legs are especially delicate because they are so small, and they tuck beneath the body in a different way-they are so small, they don't even appear to fold, they look as if they just flap down onto the bird's belly, then stretch out again. And yet, when they land on the ledge of the feeder, those teeny legs are not only strong enough to keep them in place while they eat, but also hold them in place in out harsh, Texas winds.

I watched a blue heron at the park yesterday afternoon. It's legs appeared to be longer than its body. It stood on a rock near the water's edge as fierce gusts of wind battered its body, but it stood strong, solid. It didn't even appear to sway with the wind.

Vulture legs are like tree trunks, but they seem to disappear when they land, covered by the vulture's massive wings. I suspect the vulture's legs are thicker because their body is much heavier, especially when you add in the weight of those massive wings, which are sometimes 6 to 8 feet across! I think their legs are the reason why it's a bit more difficult for them to take off than other birds. When on the ground, they have to get a running start.

I like bird feet, too. I like the way they curl their talons around tiny twigs to hold them in place. When I take the dogs out, I always knock on the back door to warn the birds that we are coming, and sometimes the smaller birds, like the chickadees and sparrows, and even cardinals, will hop onto the sides of the trees, gripping the bark with their little talons and watching the dogs sideways as the dogs stare back at them, neither really frightened or intimidated, just...curious.

Edited to add: After I posted this blog, I looked out my bedroom window and watched a baby cardinal land on a tree branch. I have two crape myrtles that we bought for our old house, but we could not find a place to plant them because there was so much rock on the land, so I put them in pots, hoping they will survive until we find a house in New Mexico. The trees are only five feet tall, and the branches are more like twigs. When the baby cardinals land on the twigs, they bob up and down, but the babies hang on with their tiny legs and talons firm and strong until the bobbing stops, confident that their legs, and the tree, will hold.


Annette Phillips said...

Wish I could follow your blog. Do you not have the follow button turned on? If you do, let me know...I love God's creatures and I love the look of your blog!

Darla Sue Dollman said...

I moved the email subscribe box to the top. I'm not sure why the follow box tends to disappear, but it's on there now. Thank you so much for your interest--I'm glad you enjoy my blog!