Sunday, January 11, 2009

Got the Frenchie to put out suet and seed for his garden dwellers, as well. Was amazed at how different or exotic the common varieties over there seem.

First of all, there were the Geai (pronounced Jay). In French, they're called Geai des Chenes (oak jays); in English, Eurasian Jays. These guys are about the size of pigeons, grey with only flashes of blue on the wings. Very impressive. Though I didn't hear their calls, I'm told that they are kind of strident - perhaps like our blue jays here?

There seemed to be plenty of mesanges, or chickadees (tit family, anyway, I think) around. The interesting thing about the ones I saw was the variation of coloring: some had deep blue, almost violet caps instead of black. Others had, instead of white throats, cream or even yellow ones.

Can't forget the pies - first cousins to crows and jays. These fellows are super talkative and are black with stunning white flashes on their wings and long tails. These may be my favorites.

The Frenchie's favorites, he told me, are the rouge-gorges. I was very interested to see one, as I'd figured that they'd be like the North American robins. Turned out I was wrong. They look more like bluebirds, only with grey instead of blue coats. They are quite pretty.

I really need to get an European bird book. Didn't get a chance to hunt one down, as we never actually made it to Paris (or the big bookstore in Versailles). The Frenchie seems to think that he might have an older guide in among the cartons of stuff that belonged to his parents that he packed away. Apparently his mother enjoyed watching birds.


jo said...

When husband's father was in a hospice in England and we went over for his last days I bought birdseed and filled the feeders that were sprinkled around the courtyard. No one bird watches like the Brits. It was really lovely...and I do think the mag pies are beautiful when they flick their wings.

Be said...

Given that the Frenchie's parents had a lot of very close contact with the English, I could see how Mme. would pick up such a hobby, if that's in fact how she got into birdwatching.

The (mag)pies remind me of crows, they're so intelligent and talkative. Merles (ravens?) are pretty cool, too. Huge as gulls and very, very smart. Not as many of them around as pies, though.