|Artistic freedom: the ptarmigan covey is flushed. A good bird dog would NOT do that, he'd just freeze on point|
This morning I watched a couple with two fairly grown chicks at the feeding station in front of my studio window. They were long and thin with excitement, their necks stretched and their beaks pointing. They held this pose and focused on a spot on the ground that from my view point was obscured by a rock and an agave. Clearly the chicks were learning to fine tune their maybe instinctive pointing by this concerted effort. In social animals, learning and memory are facilitated by highly-emotional situations. These chicks were learning their lesson well.
But what was triggering the excitement? Different from most bird mobs these guys were quiet and the other bird species were not drawn into the melee. The Mourning Dove seems hardly interested, the Thrasher keeps eating, only a sparrow seems ready to chime in.
This one was a small guy and his rattle didn't make any sounds. The small ones tend to wander straight west from that location, right into our dog run. So we decided to move him several hundred meters north. When he resumes his journey next night, he will hopefully bypass our house and the dog beds.