I know birds are not stupid. I jest:
This is my next door neighbor’s bathroom window. Sorry I couldn’t get a better image (laptop camera). I didn’t want to get too close and frighten the bird. But you can see dimly that there are two nests over the window. The one on the right is from last month. The robins birthed their chicks and left. About two weeks later another nest appeared. That’s a robin sitting on the nest on the left. I jest that they could have just used the same nest instead of building a new one. But in all likelihood they probably have to build a new nest for each brood. Even if these are the same robins. There is probably waste material from the former hatchlings left in the nest after they leave.
No, birds are not dumb. The term I would use to describe their intelligence is uncanny. That’s what I thought on the occasion when I thought I could watch a redheaded woodpecker unobserved from my second story bedroom window at my old address. It was perched vertically on the trunk of an old pecan tree just outside my window. So I came to the window and watched. It’s back, of course, was to me. As I watched, that bird turned its head 180 degrees and looked right at me. I was startled because, as a mammal, I’m not used to animals that can turn their heads 180 degrees, like that demon possessed child in The Exorcist; but also I had no idea how this bird could have known I was right behind him. Uncanny! Uncanny.
So now that the grackles are gone, I looked inside the bush in question to see their nest. I couldn’t find one. These are the bushes in question. The grackles were, allegedly now, nesting in the smaller of the two. I cannot find a nest inside. It is a mystery. There was definitely at least one chick that was hatched in that bush. Could it have been hatched without a nest? And again, why did I never see birds flying in and out of that bush, neither while building the putative nest nor while feeding the chick(s)? (Which of course tweeted from the bush continuously for over a week.) It’s a mystery.
Now the bush on the left. That’s where the little birds kept going in and out of last year. They were always hanging around that bush. They were beautiful little brown birds with quick flickering movements and distinctive markings and distinctive calls. I looked them up on the Internet and discovered that they were Carolina wrens. This is the sound that they were making from various points in my backyard:
I think they were trying to tell me to go away. While I was sitting outside at sunset once, after breeping repeatedly perched on the fence about forty feet away, one came and perched on the rain gutter over my head and made a sound I’d never heard a Carolina wren make before. A razzing sound. It came over and razzed at me, as if to say “What? Are you deaf? Get out of the way!” But we coexisted, in spite of my unwanted presence. I think they learned to tolerate me. Funny thing is, after they left last year, I looked in the bush for their nest too. I couldn’t find one. It left me wondering: if they didn’t have a nest in the bush, why were they constantly flying in and out and why didn’t they like me sitting near it? Birds only know.