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Nature question: Birds

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soren456

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Let me ask our distinguished International Panel a bird question.

I walk by a long, dense hedge each day. So do hundreds and hundreds of others.

Birds build their nests in the hedge. In the spring, they storm out of the hedge, swooping and diving and cursing, threatening everyone who goes by. I know that it's instinct, that our nearness threatens their nests and that they want to drive us off.

So my question is: Why did they build their nests there in the first place? Exactly the same volume of foot traffic passes by while they are choosing the hedge and building their nests; why did that go unnoticed? Why didn't instinct kick in then? Why didn't they go elsewhere, with less traffic?

(BTW, last spring, for the first time, I saw a red-wing blackbird hop out of a shrub and pretend to be hurt. He landed on the ground, dragged his wing and limped away from the bush. Very convincing, and if I were I cat, I'd have believed him.)
 

Darkfinn

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Well... birds do this for the same reason that they fly into the warehouse at my work every week through the big loading dock doors and cannot for the life of them figure out how to get back out.

Animals (in general) are stupid.

This is also the same reason they keep flying head-on into our big glass window that seperates the office and said warehouse. I swear I've picked up 6 dead bird carcasses in the past 2 months.
 

Charlie

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No idea.

Although it may be that they have a limited amount of places they could build the nest, and choose a bad spot because it's their only option. Or maybe that place has benefits that greatly outweigh the bother of the traffic.

Although, they might just be stupid.
 

Lil Snap

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Or maybe the protective attack instinct is latent until their eggs have hatched, meaning that they have something valuable to protect.
 

Pramrider

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Or maybe the protective attack instinct is latent until their eggs have hatched, meaning that they have something valuable to protect.
Lil Snap, I think you hit the nail on the head. I've noticed that same behavior in ants. Normally if you put your finger near some ants they'll run away from it. However, put your finger near the same ants on the day the newly hatched, winged queens are swarming off to start new colonies and they'll try to attack you in defense of the swarming queens.

EDIT: And really, people are no different. Become a parent one day and you'll know what I mean. Protective instincts kick in you never realized you had! You'll do whatever it takes to protect your child(ren) from serious harm.

~Pramrider
 

Dawes

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Snap and Pram seem pretty straight-on!

I would also offer it up to the idea that animals are are not stupid -- they are merely subject to different forms of observation than we are. They look for different things in a "shelther" an in a place of habitation than we do.

Think of it like this: Even though those birds seem pretty pissed that humans are hanging out and walking by them every day, they probably have done enough observation through this constant pestering to realize that most humans aren't actually threatening to them. Not only are the humans not threatening, but if there are humans around...

... there's that much less of a chance of more violent predators.

In its own way, the birds have found an immensely peaceful place, because there's likely enough foot-traffic to keep larger and more dangerous creatures from disturbing their sanctity. This habit is visible in so many other animals that exist around human-populated areas. For example, there's a massive number of deer (including one albino one) that live on Aberdeen Proving Ground up here in Aberdeen, Maryland. Why would they live on a military base, of all places? Because they know that hunting is not allowed. They've observed enough in all of their generations that they know where they will be hunted and where they won't, and they stay there.

If that's not brilliant, I don't know what is.
 

Spaz

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Why did they build their nests there in the first place?
The instinct to find a specific nest site that meets their needs is greater than that of the foot traffic. Besides, as someone already posted, they're not looking into the future to when they have the need to protect the nest. They don't have that ability. It has nothing to do with being stupid. It's hormones.
Spaz
 

Pramrider

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For example, there's a massive number of deer (including one albino one) that live on Aberdeen Proving Ground up here in Aberdeen, Maryland. Why would they live on a military base, of all places? Because they know that hunting is not allowed. They've observed enough in all of their generations that they know where they will be hunted and where they won't, and they stay there.
Dawes, have to add a ditto for down here at the nuclear power plant where I work. Federal law also allows no firearms or hunting of any sort on nuclear plant property, so we've got our own herd of deer down here, too. They're so plentiful and tame you can walk out to the parking lot in the evening and they'll be all over the grass medians and won't do much more than give you a look. Then they go back to eating or just laying around relaxing in the grass.

~Pramrider
 

timmahtherebel

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I think.. Animals are just stupid. I found a dead bird in my car after being sealed in for 2 days... not a pretty sight.. or smell...

It literally cooked in there. ( couldn't afford any gas so I left it sitting while I walked for a while ) and when i got back to the car and opened it I was hit with a HORRIBLE smell. I don't understand how that bird could have gotten in there unless there is some opening in my car somewhere that is could have crawled into. Could be, because its an old car. I still haven't gotten around to cleaning up the carpets and the trunk area.
 
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aj1983

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So my question is: Why did they build their nests there in the first place? Exactly the same volume of foot traffic passes by while they are choosing the hedge and building their nests; why did that go unnoticed? Why didn't instinct kick in then? Why didn't they go elsewhere, with less traffic?
They do it because it works :smile1: If it didn't work they would stop or die off. but yeah i have no idea why they dont pick another spot if there are others near by. maybe the plants in that hedge are a certain kind they need or keeps them out of the sun or wind or something better. Also they may not think that far ahead either, just building a nest and not remembering that they will be laying eggs and having to guard it later.
 

Dawes

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I think.. Animals are just stupid. I found a dead bird in my car after being sealed in for 2 days... not a pretty sight.. or smell...

It literally cooked in there. ( couldn't afford any gas so I left it sitting while I walked for a while ) and when i got back to the car and opened it I was hit with a HORRIBLE smell. I don't understand how that bird could have gotten in there unless there is some opening in my car somewhere that is could have crawled into. Could be, because its an old car. I still haven't gotten around to cleaning up the carpets and the trunk area.
But how could that make a bird stupid? :) I don't think getting caught somewhere and cooked by extensive heat means you lack intelligence. We shouldn't apply our idea of intellect to animals, who are basically unfamiliar with the way our technology works simply because it is made with humans in mind and not other creatures.
 
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soren456

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If you attribute human characteristics to animals (anthropomorphism), of course animals are stupid. Even some humans are stupid under those criteria.

The truth is that animals are very good at being animals, which is as it should be. Birds are very good at being birds, cats at being cats, dogs as dogs--and so on down the line.

I suppose that there exist stupid birds among birds. But to compare birdlike behavior against human behavior is apples-oranges, to say the least.

Thanks to everyone who has responded.
 

dogboy

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It could be that the birds still think they are vicious velociraptors that they once were, or so scientists think. You go innocently walking by the hedge. Suddenly a pack of intelligent hunting velociraptor/sparrows jump out and make you their meal, at least that's what's going on in their heads. Your only hope is that Tyranisaurus Crow will show up and eat them. It would be sort of funny.

I have holly bushes growing in front of my house and every year a bird will build a nest in there. I of course, want to trim the bush but must then wait until the eggs hatch before I disturb momma bird. I think it's right that they probably built there because they know I will provide protection for them.
 

Pramrider

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There's also some very intelligent birds in the bird world. Ravens and Crows are considered a couple of the more intelligent of the species. I've watched crows outside our house. They'll be a few on the ground poking around for food, but always there will be one up in the trees acting as a lookout for danger. I've heard of ravens even enjoying playing tricks (not the poop trick:D) on people.

~Pramrider
 

timmahtherebel

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.. Ok.. I was a bit worked up.

But how can I get rid of the rotting baked chicken smell in my compact car?
 
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soren456

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.. Ok.. I was a bit worked up.

But how can I get rid of the rotting baked chicken smell in my compact car?
:laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh:

Sorry. I know it's actually a real issue. But it just made me laugh.

And it's your new GEO, too, right? Yuck.

(Stupid bird . . . . )

Time and baking soda, I'd say.

Can you google the question? You could also call restoration cleaning companies (the ones who make things right after a fire or undiscovered death) and ask for advice. They probably could recommend products.

Good luck with it.
 
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