gillybirds

What came first- the chickens or the blog?

Being Entertained!

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How did we all entertain ourselves before the Internet? This morning I have fallen down a virtual rabbit hole and ended up looking at photos of what birds would look like if they had arms….
Some are cute

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Some are macho

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Some , like this pelican marachi band are just silly

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This gladiator rooster is great, particularly since Mr G and I have just seen the movie in the Royal Albert Hall in London, with the London Philharmonic Orchestra playing the beautiful music score live

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But this little video clip I love best of all – you sure don’t need arms to give a hug – please click on the link to see it! It will make you smile in a feathery fuzzy way.
you don’t need arms to give a good hug

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On our Anniversary – Reasons to be glad you are not an angler fish

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In a list of monogamous creatures man (or for that matter, woman ) is not mentioned. Gibbon apes, wolves, termites, coyotes, barn owls, beavers, bald eagles, golden eagles, condors, swans, brolga cranes, French angel fish, sandhill cranes, pigeons, prions (a seabird), red-tailed hawks, anglerfish, ospreys, prairie voles (a rodent), and black vultures — are a few that mate for life.
Of course, it depends on what you mean by “mate for life.” These creatures do mate for life in the social sense of living together in pairs but they rarely stay strictly faithful. About 90 percent of the 9,700 bird species pair, mate, and raise chicks together — some returning together to the same nest site year after year. Males, however, often raise other males’ offspring unknowingly. DNA testing reveals that the social-pair male did not father 10, 20, and sometimes 40 percent of the chicks. Now that would make an interesting episode of the Jeremy Kyle Show.
Some of these species of birds are – macaws, crows, ravens, sea eagles, geese, doves, hummingbirds, eagles, cranes, and owls. Black vultures actually actively discourage infidelity. All nearby vultures attack any vulture caught philandering.
Given the opportunity chickens are polygamous, however the Gillybirds live a happy rooster – free life – enjoying the late summer sun, feasting on windfall apples and overripe tomatoes, although the evenings are getting dark by 8pm. Tonight it the first evening I have closed the coop door shut to give them protection from the cooler autumnal air.
Having celebrated 23 happy years of marriage with Mr Gillybirds at the weekend, I have been dwelling on the joys of sharing your life with that one special person.
One species of fish is absolutely monogamous. In the black darkness of the deep sea, the tiny male anglerfish (perhaps one tenth the female’s size) detects and follows the scent trail of a female of his own species. Once found, he bites his chosen one and hangs on. His skin fuses to hers, their bodies grow together (he gets his food through a common blood supply and becomes essentially a sperm producing organ). They mate for life — a short life for the male.
Happy Anniversary Darling!

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Mr and Mrs Gillybirds- lovebirds for life ❤

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St Francis and Pope Francis

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On Wednesday we were glued to the tv once the white smoke had come from the chimney of the Vatican announcing the new Pope. I find there is something compelling about watching historic events unfolding before you in your own home. What was even more interesting was that most of the huge crowd in St Peter’s Square appeared to be watching events unfold on their mobile phones as well as seeing it with their own eyes.
As well as being the first non European Pope in 1282 years Archbishop Bergoglio from Argentina is the first to chose the name of Francis as his title.
St Francis of Assisi, as legend has it once preached to the birds, “his little sisters”. He reminded them that they owed their Creator a song of praise for the liberty to fly and for feathers to clothe them and their offspring. They had been saved from the flood when two of every species of bird went in the ark with Noah, and though they didn’t sow or reap, they were well fed. Finally Francis told them –
He has given you fountains and rivers to quench your thirst, mountains and valleys in which to take refuge, and trees in which to build your nests; so that your Creator loves you much, having thus favoured you with such bounties. Beware, my little sisters, of the sin of ingratitude, and study always to give praise to God.”
The legend tells us that as he spoke the birds opened their beaks, stretched their necks, spread their wings and bowed their heads towards him, and he responded devoutly by giving thanks to their Creator. After blessing them, the birds flew up above him making the sign of the cross and then scattered taking the gospel message worldwide.
From “The Little Flowers of St. Francis of Assisi,” 1476

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This is a painting of St Francis with the birds, as depicted by English artist Stanley Spencer. I love the big plump hens he has included, and their expressions!

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This is a much older painting of the same story but also has hens! As an artist I think I would have been tempted to paint more exotic birds like parrots, penguins and peacocks, rather than the average chicken! Probably these birds weren’t acquainted with this medieval Italian cleric…
Pope Francis may have other more pressing issues to deal with than reminding birds to be thankful but he, like Pope Benedict before him, will be communicating with his human flock by regular tweeting!

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I will leave you with the words of the prayer of St Francis. Whether you are a person of strong faith, or stumbling after God, or of no faith, the expression of love towards others, putting others first, loving one another amid difficult times and by being peacemakers who seek reconciliation and caring for creation reflects our interdependence with those with whom we share our beautiful planet.

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Who are you calling a chicken?

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It amazes me that some visitors to our home refuse to come out to the coop and pay homage to the feathered wonders that are my Gillybirds. A few have admitted to an overall fear of birds, one to an actual fear of chickens. Fear of chickens is alektorophobia. Or “being chicken about chickens”. I’m not mocking, hens have sharp beaks and very sharp feet, flapping wings, and people may have unpleasant associations of a visit to a farm as a small child whether the smell, the noise, being pecked at for food or like an experience of mine, being chased by and hissed at by geese. Movies like Hitchcock’s The Birds don’t help either. It can be hard to be sympathetic until I consider my own little fears or phobias.

You may find it hard to believe but I was always afraid of dogs, specifically dogs barking. Cynophobia can make life difficult. I used to plot my route to school or out walking my baby brother in his pram (he has just turned 40 this month) so that I could avoid dogs barking at me from their gateways. If I had friends with dogs I wouldn’t visit them, or I would insist that their dog however small and cute would be locked away. I know some of you reading this have experienced this first hand, and thank you for your tolerance Katie! Of course now as an owner of two dogs, I can understand the body language and sounds of dogs much better. Daily exposure to dogs from their adorable puppy stage, learning to train them and having many pleasant experiences with them has completely cured me of this phobia.
I think my fear of dogs is linked with my fear of balloons, fireworks, thunder, or basically any sudden unexpected loud noise, known as ligyrophobia or phonophobia. My mother tells the story that when I was a baby she asked a visiting nurse to be quiet as I was sleeping. The nurse swiftly and loudly clapped her hands above my pram and I responded by almost jumping out of my pram in fright. This may or may not have been the start of what could be an embarrassing, socially limiting ridiculous fear. Some people can be very kind about this, others just laugh. Growing up during the “Troubles” in Northern Ireland there were frequent house shaking explosions which meant at the least property damage and at worst loss of life. I don’t doubt that this life experience also contributed to my condition.
The thunder phobia has passed over the years. A month camping in France with horrendous thunder storms every night helped with this one!
At firework displays I put in ear plugs but am known to be a sweaty irritable mess by the end of the event.
Even doors slamming loudly can trigger an uncomfortable response.
Balloons though are the worst. Fear of balloons even has a name – globophobia. So don’t be laughing! In order not to pass on my fears to my children we have balloons for most celebrations in the house. I blow them up tentatively, I tie them together as delicately as if they were unexploded nuclear devices and when the party is over they are flung in the garden for the dogs, or the Gillyboys to pop far away from my hearing. I have no problem with helium balloons. A party room full of loose balloons rolling round the floor and a couple of sugar-overdosed high energy children is just the worst and I usually leave until the balloons are all popped or the kids are gone. It is no doubt to do with the control of these bright, colourful orbs that have a nasty way of popping unexpectedly. And I don’t mean the children!

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Without making myself sound like a complete phobic ridden mess, I also don’t like heights or enclosed spaces. Enough said for now. None of these feeling dictate my life for me. It is only now and again they jump out and surprise me. Or maybe I have surprisophobia!

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