Posted by: atowhee | August 3, 2020


I think I have drifted it a new fragment of bird listing. Business or retail birds.  I had seen birds in business buildings before–House Sparrows in both the CNN  HQ in Atlanta and an airport on one my business trips somewhere back east.  My first Asian Couckoo (common) was in the courtyard of a Tokyo Hotel. My first East African bird species was a Barn Owl on top of our motel at 5 AM our first morning in Uganda. A big bonus were the several large fruit bats that slept hanging from the walls of the dining area every day. Years ago I blogged the Violet-green Swallows nesting in a broken and hollow cement block on the front of what was then Puck’s Donuts in Ashland.  There was a particular Red-shouldered Hawk who hunted the parking lot of a truck stop in Phoenix, Oregon.  At that time it had open dumpsters, a screaming invitation to lure the neighborhood’s rats.  Red-shoulders are supreme ratters–in San Francisco I only once saw them eating anything else, that time it was a Mourning Dove.  Rock Pigeons are notorious for nesting on business buildings, of course.  Peregrines will nest on nearby high-rises to more easily swoop down onto the pigeons passing beneath.   Birds that I know love buildings include Jackdaws, Black Redstart and all the swifts of Europe and America, Barn & Cliff Swallows, House Martins, BARN Owls, House Finches, House Wrens, European Starlings.  But there is often more to retail that mere stores, there is the luring landscaping.  So in two days I have seen House Sparrow inside a building’s walls, and two finch species bathing in a fountain designed to capture customers’ attention.

First the bathing fountain at Kelly’s Appliances in east Salem–finchnip:IMG_2781

There were several American Goldfinches coming and going, bathing and imbibing, it was over 85 degrees.  Then a female House Sparrow arrive.  “Ah.  That cool water sure tastes good!”  We can relate.  Thirst is a desire that all vertebrates have in common, something else we share beyond a bunch of bones and a tongue.

Speaking of House Sparrows.  As I returned my final UHaul van for this last house move I stood in the Sears parking lot (90%0 of their business is now UHaul in McMinnville) I saw birds go into a hole about twenty feet up in the store’s outer wall.  Look closely–who made those hopes through the stucco (really some form of cement, right?) veneer and the plastic mesh it clings to?  They were feeding young…second, maybe third clutch of the season?  Those sparrows don’t do social distancing, they are bent on making whoopee while the sun shines!sparo hole (2)

I have a friend who compiled a list of birds in baseball parks–this was in San Francisco mainly and there the lights and insects drew in many birds from the Bay.  He even scored Ashy Storm-Petrel over centerfield!  The list included gulls, raptors, corvids, swallows–what you would expect.

I refuse to count those birds lured to ecolodges by feeders–those aren’t business birds. They are semi-domestic.

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