November 21, 2021
 by Paul McGowan

What was that saying about birds of a feather? Seems to me whoever started that old chestnut hadn’t spent a lot of time watching birds.

Out my south window, I can see the neighbor’s giant bird feeder.  He brings it out for the winter after the bears have gone to sleep. It’s a generous gift to help our feathered friends through the Colorado cold. Only, the birds I see are constantly fighting. Though they are the same species, the bigger and more aggressive birds spent most of their time fending off access to the bird feeder from the others. This, despite the fact there’s an endless amount of seed and plenty of empty perches.

This constant bickering and defense of what the birds perceive as theirs is kind of familiar to me. I see it daily in our comments section, our forums, the newspapers, even our stereo mags.

People defending their points of view to the exclusion of others.

What would happen if instead of so loudly defending our viewpoints we instead practiced the opposite?

I am not referring to our ongoing struggles over facts. The inverse square law is true whether we believe it or not.

But perhaps it’s worth a thought to be better listeners so we might be in a position to generously offer insight to those who seek it.

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70 comments on “Birds”

  1. The general difference between these birds and most human beings is: once a bird has satisfied its needs for birdseed it flies away and enjoys life. While the avidity for possession and power of most human beings is insatiable. Thus you rarely encounter rational discussions especially if the topic is basically emotional. And things become most difficult if we are facing a topic of high complexity – as aural perception!

    1. I wonder if any birds really enjoy life, except the robin on Mary Poppins. It seems in real life they are constantly looking for food, if not for themselves, for their demanding babies in the nest. And they must be ever watchful for the hawk that can suddenly swoop down from nowhere. Their singing is to ward other birds away or attract birds for mating. It is questionable how much they enjoy that.

      I watch the birds daily. It is just as Paul says, the dominant ones will sit squarely over the feeding bowls, hogging the seed, chasing away other birds of the same feather (and any birds of smaller feather). The doves, being bigger, keep the smaller birds at bay. They wait perched on the electrical lines and then come down in groups, after the squirrels have raided the seed bowls and bird house. The hummingbirds have the easiest time in my backyard and may actually enjoy their short lives. They don’t fight each other for the orange flowers on the Cape Honeysuckle. They won’t feed from the hummingbird feeder, preferring to sip from the real thing.

      The doves are so stupid. They crash into my picture window several times a year, leaving feathers stuck to something sticky that marks the spot of impact until I finally decide to wash the window. Happily, I don’t find dead birds down below the window, so either they survive and recover or fly off somewhere to die.

      1. Could it be that birds, especially doves when living too close to bird feeders and all kind of garbage show severe symptoms of degeneration? 😉 Same problems obviously with dogs compared to wolves!

    1. A simple but undoubtably correct answer Martin.

      I’ve posted this quote before but I will post it one more time.

      “The Ego is always at work and needs constant feeding“.

  2. IF the exclusion of other viewpoints is practiced, I agree this isn’t helpful. The use of words making clear that a viewpoint is unsure or just one’s opinion, help.

    But what I’d encourage is not to avoid expressing opinions too strongly, but to express them at all and discuss them. That’s the interesting part imo. Otherwise you have too few preachers and too many quiet listeners but no exchange and nothing going beyond the preachers points of views, which imo is boring on the long run.

    That’s why id like to give todays post a different spin: “don’t be dogmatic and exclude other opinions, but tell them! If there’s an opinion, it doesn’t mean, other’s are excluded”.

  3. In complete contrast, we went to see Giselle last night, THE classic French 19th C ballet, in which the corp de ballets of 24 ballerinas are required to perform a series of quite complex no-compromise dances in close formation. They have good reason to be angry, being the ghosts of betrayed lovers. But if they can pull it off and act as one, it is something to behold, and has delighted audiences for over 150 years. Cooperation really does have its benefits.

    If we could all agree that cables don’t make a lot of difference, that it is preferable to listen to music, not formats, and that “integrated” is not an insult, we’d be half way there.

    1. Here’s a proposal … for halfway — Any room for compromise?

      Formats are just a way to store music. Pick which one is best for you , and don’t push an opinion on others – let the others choose

      Cables do / can make a difference again don’t push an opinion on others let the others choose

      Integrated is NOT an insult – get what best fits your situation and let the others choose for theirs.

      1. Of course cables make a difference – the less I spend on cables, the more my wife and I can go to the ballet.

        Of course cables, integrated units and formats are subjects on which most audiophiles have totally entrenched opinions, and I have entirely different opinions to Paul on all three.

      1. I didn’t say that cables don’t make a difference. You just mention the word cables and someone gets excited and argumentative.

      2. Me too and people who don’t believe in anything but power cords used as speaker cables have that right. Unfortunately there is a major disagreement between the two camps. My response would be keep your opinions and we will keep ours. Just please don’t troll our opinion s on these sites and we should not troll on their’s. No one gets hurt, we all get to listen to our music and hopefully life goes on in a happier and peaceful way. I made a comment about the Audioholic yesterday which in retrospect I should have not. I should have not gone on his site to argue his opinions because in real life I don’t follow their statements regardless, so why try to convince anyone to change their opinions.

    2. I hate cables (and power supplies emitting EMI/RFI) because they are the creators of the spaghetti syndrome and because they can have a huge impact on sound quality for both digital and analog connections. See the different classes of CAT cables. See the huge impact of tonearm cables. However finding the best cable is most time consuming and sales price is not an indicator of better quality. So I like external power supplies or battery supplies and wireless transmission and integrates. The money (and time) you would have to spend for better cables are better invested in better loudspeakers.

  4. One of the most enjoyable aspects of audio equipment hobby/obsession is there is no one right answer. And like Fat Rat’s Cricket, nothing is permanent and no one gets hurt (unlike USA Football).

    I enjoy reading and posting on this site to learn about audio, and sometimes other pursuits. I also get a good chuckle, and then try inject humor when reading increasingly angry posts.

    With the chaotic world we all are now living in, there are more important things to get worked up about. But please, not here 😉

    1. Aeroaudio,
      No one gets hurt?
      Say whaaaat??

      You’ve obviously never copped a hard leather ball in your head at 90mph.
      In the last 60 years at least 4 men have died from being struck in the head
      with a cricket ball whilst playing cricket.
      The last one in 2014; Phillip Hughes was 27yo.

      1. Fat Rat,

        You see, I just learned something!

        “In first class cricket, as of 2016, England requires all batsmen, wicketkeepers and fielders closer than 8 yards from the wicket to wear helmets. This is mandatory even when facing medium-pace and spin bowling.”

        Makes sense that the last severe injury was prior to this regulation.

        Still don’t understand the game, but it’s fun to watch it being played on the field next to soccer, by the Pakistani and Indian immigrants to Texas.

        1. Aeroaudio,
          Those helmets with the open-mesh facings had to be redesigned after Phillip Hughes was killed, because the damn ball got in between the helmet & the side of his head.
          Also, if you get hit in the helmet with a 90mph ball you can still suffer a severe concussion; it wont kill you but it will put you out of the game for a few weeks…& then there’s the long-term effects.

        2. Hitting people with cricket balls is a legitimate tactic. It’s called roughing up a batsman. The response of the batsman is to show no pain, not even flinch an eyelid, even if in extreme pain. A bit like Paul listening to an mp3 file. The only exception is when you get hit in the groin, because it’s impossible to stand up for about 10 minutes.

          My favourite was the famous Yorkshire, Somerset and England batsman Brian Close, who when fielding at forward short leg (the death zone), got hit on the foot. He didn’t flinch a muscle or wipe the blood that was coming out the eyelids of his boots and broken toe.

          If you want to watch 3 minutes of insane bravery and pain, google “Close Holding”. Michael Holding’s nickname was “whispering death”, which sums it up.

          1. Thank you Steven not to be confused with Steven,

            This is why I enjoy Paul’s site. Next time my wife and I see Cricket being played, I will be able to tell her this story.

            Just like learning about Malden salt (now a must on our fried eggs) and the chicken less chicken soup recipe.

            1. Malden is famous for Tom Holland (Spiderman) and Diana Rigg (Medea and Mrs Tyrell in Game of Thrones). The salt comes from Maldon, which is somewhere else entirely.

              Incidentally, there is a new Game of Thrones prequel series being filmed at the moment, at Warner Bros studios near Watford, just north of London. These must be the same ones where Harry Potter was filmed.

              The best thing to come from this site in recent years was stimpy2’s (?) commendation of Victorinox knives. Magnificent.

                1. Got the knife but no kitchen. Cabinetmaker here Tuesday, worktops Wednesday, plumber and sparky Thursday, might then be ready to start chopping.

                  1. Be very careful because the edge is so thin that it can get damaged easily or you can really get cut badly. I recommend only using a product called the Accusharp to hone the blade as long as you don’t have a heavy hand when you chop. Out of my collection I don’t use it for everything. I use heavier blades for a lot of shopping and go easy with this knife because it’s already lasted me close to seven years I think and it’s still almost a sharp as it was when it came out of the packaging. What happens to many blade edges is that they don’t lose their sharpness but they start to wrinkle and then you need to use a ‘steel’ to straighten the blade out and then use the Accusharp. You should get a lot of pleasure out of this knife.


    2. Guys, I think you are making the wrong comparisons when it comes to some of these sports. While I do not think there is any sport that can easily be compared to cricket if you want to compare it to an American sport it should be the MLB ( American baseball ). If you want to compare the NFL ( American football ) to a British sport it should be rugby not cricket.

    1. jb4…That’s my belief as well.

      I also believe that a person may only change their convictions if they face up to the fact that they can’t be correct 100% of the time. I also believe that we should think about the comments that we post here and read our responses several times with an open mind and think about the consequences of our comment before we hit the “Post Comment” bar.

      1. Absolutely true Stimpy2,
        We all (I certainly do) hit the “post” button to soon every now and then 🙂

        Today’s title of the post reminded of the fact that there are a LOT of songs with (the name of a) “bird” in the title.
        – Fly Robin fly, Albatross, Blackbird, Blue birds over the mountain, Fly like an Eagle, Paloma blanca,
        Vulture, When doves cry, Free bird, Rockin’Robin, Birds, Three little birds, Sally’s Pigeons, I’m like a bird,
        Lesbian Seagull, How’s your bird, Slow bird.
        To name only a few. The list is virtually endless. Almost more popular than “love”.

        BTW., nice picture of what seems to me a ring-necked parakeet from Africa.

    2. I also very much appreciate the social tone here to that in many other forums and I absolutely don’t see any meaning or value in questioning or disagreement as and end in itself.

      And although keeping the family solidarity and harmony in honor too excessively can mean an isolation from which points of views exist for good or bad reason outside, I think this caring and those implicit codes of conduct help us to keep things civil.

      Speaking of a family, I however prefer the family with the insubordinate, pubescent daughter and the free thinking elder son with already an own opinion at the table to the family just listening pa and other guests preaching and formulating each questioning or own opinion carefully to avoid jeopardizing family peace. IMO the latter finally avoids learning for all sides. And as in real life, in case the latter is preferred by the majority or made a rule, it’s time for the elders to move on and learn more than what’s going on inside that small cosmos 😉

  5. Good morning:

    This society is too competitive. This idea vs. that idea. Where as it could be both. Example, is it nature or is it nurture. This is a Coke vs. Pepsi argument. The truth, according to epigenetic research is nature and nurture interact in some amazing ways. Both are true yet they are not islands un to themselves.

    As St. Francis of Assisi said; seek first to understand then to be understood. It’s all in the approach.


  6. Well fellas. Good hearted and well rounded individuals methinks you all are. 😉
    Very much enjoyed reading every post here. Keep up the good work my little birds. Lol.

  7. It’s what Paul said after he got threw writing the mane Corse of his early morning post, is what rings true to me.
    Looking at the hole big picture, everybody is fighting about one thing, or another.
    And some of us, refuse to just set back and listen to what the other is saying.
    And what someone has already said about audio, he’s telling the truth.
    There is no right or wrong, I agree with him on that!
    But I also agree with Paul too.
    How about instead of having a shout out over this or that, just agree to disagree.
    Listening is in deed the best tool you can use, in any sichuation.
    Sad but true, some of us, myself included, find that very hard to do.
    Some of us, just don’t want to listen to anyone’s idea at all.
    But I will give you all a huge challenge.
    Instead of putting an idea down as BS as some would call it, how about looking way beyond that, and try to find what’s really there.
    You don’t know what you’ll find until you take the time to both look and listen.

  8. A very well thought out post this morning Paul. And a necessary topic for all of the readers of Paul’s Posts. I think that you have a very different outlook about life than many of us otherwise you wouldn’t be watching the habits of your neighbors birds. You probably wouldn’t even be interested in them. Would you agree with me that with age comes wisdom for those who try and keep an open mind? I also believe that a persons confidence level becomes evident in the comments that you receive every day including mine. Arguing over a topic like cables almost on a daily basis seems to me that this statement is correct. Why should any of us care if we are happy with our own music systems and the way cables sound to each and everyone of us. If we can’t keep civil conversations on a community site like this it serves no purpose to even make an opinionated or fact based comment as nothing will ever come of it. What we are expressing is basically that there are other people who are stupid, angry and one minded. When it comes to opinions like this, I envision myself digging a hole, pouring the concrete, stepping in and waiting until it sets. It will take an awful lot of work to get your feet out after we set them or our opinions that won’t save the earth. Let’s face it, we’re only talking about audio equipment here and our lives are not being threatened by our opinions but it would be nicer if we kept our minds open.

    1. The interesting thing to observe is, that when topics like politics (at election time) or vaccination occur, partly completely different folks are active here and much less open minded than on audio topics.

      Finally it’s important how or if people keep open minded when it comes to their essential topics. The result may surprise sometimes and vary from their behavior in topics of less personal interest or involvement.

      1. Absolutely. Unfortunately topics like vaccinations, mask mandates, climate control and politics in general seem to have taken a turn to the ugliness of so much of humanity. Do you think that most of these people who seemingly want to overthrow the US government have been around for a very long time and five years ago they got their opportunity to come out in the open. This is not audio or other less important topics that I would hope did not get stirred into one large caldron of opinions. I certainly have a very strong opinion about the fate of our world as I enter whatever final years of my life that I have left and I was hoping that they would have been a happy years. “Music hath charm to sooth the savage breast”. I’m going to stop here because what I would continue writing would be vile as I can see no way around my feelings towards the future of our planet.

        1. I appreciate your engagement in more important things than audio!

          This here is a cricket and mixed other daily matters place anyway with occasional references to partly occurring audio topics 😉

  9. Hopefully my final comment of the day.

    Socrates… Whatever Plato says is a lie.
    Plato… Socrates speaks the truth.

    And so the arguments will probably continue.

  10. I was struck by something the lady (sorry, I don’t know her name) from the excellent Skunkie Designs YouTube channel (All about valve amp mods) said about people confusing their hifi purchasing choices with their self image. Very wise words and I highly recommend a listen.

    The relevant bit starts at 8:19.

  11. Paul the birdwatcher. He puts out a tantalizing bowl of birdseed early every morning and knows full well that birds of all feathers will be attracted to it. They will position, squabble, act like Mother Nature made them to act, sometimes entertaining, usually competitively, often disgusting. Feathers will fly. Beaks will peck. And then as the day winds down the cacophony will wane and dusk will bring a few hours of rest until early morning when it all starts over again. Like the movie Groundhog Day 🙂

            1. Joe,
              I meant ‘colloquial’, not “vernacular”…my bad.
              ‘Colloquial’ – used in ordinary or familiar conversation;
              not formal or literary.
              I will try to do better next time 😉

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