The meaning of “cute”

Behold my nominee for a place on the list of the all-time cutest chicks in Princeville.

Kirwan contemplates life

Kirwan contemplates life


This is my garden chick, the Irish chick, Kirwan.

At this time, Kirwan mostly walks plantigrade.  Birds are digitigrade walkers, they walk on their toes.  Most of the chicks are not quite up to that,  they walk plantigrade, like humans and bears; weight is borne on the whole foot.   Sometimes people think birds have backwards knees, but they are actually seeing the ankle and heel.  In this photo of a father and chick, the band is technically on the bird’s foot, not his leg.  The joint above that is his ankle, not his knee.

KP618 and chick,1-31-15

KP618 and chick,1-31-15


Lately Kirwan has been waddling down to street level to give his many fans a treat: a glimpse of his endearingly chubby, clumsy self.  His plantigrade locomotion just adds to the overall impression of a kid who has not quite stepped over into the realm of adulthood.


He ended up sitting on his rocky throne, surveying his kingdom of admirers.  He had left souvenirs of previous visits to this spot.

Kirwan surveys his world

Kirwan surveys his world


For those of you who walk by my house to see Kirwan, who is now featured on the tour bus that goes through my neighborhood, you may have to look around for him now.  He is exploring his world and strengthening his limbs.  If you are very lucky, you may see him being fed by his mother or father.  If, on the other hand, he is hiding his head or pecking at an adult, that is one of those annoying non-nesters that stop by periodically to bother him on their neighborhood patrols.

He does not “suffer fools gladly.”



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7 Responses to The meaning of “cute”

  1. Mona Gardner says:

    Is this the same chick we saw when we were privileged to see you in March? I had misunderstood that chick’s name as Kirby. But we are so happy to see that he is thriving–thanks to you and all the wonderful caregivers in Princeville! Best, Mona, Dixie, and Janet

    • tradewindsla says:

      I am one quarter Irish, and my mother’s maiden name was Kirwan. I really like chick names that can be male or female. We had to change George Gooney to Georgia Gooney; that bird likes the limelight. She appeared on the Cornell webcam at its old location, now she found the new place and is showing up there!

  2. Louise says:

    Kirwan has my vote!! 👍👍👍

    • tradewindsla says:

      Thanks, Louise. In a way, Kirwan is partially your chick, since his aunt or uncle lived in your yard last season, and his grandmothers have decided that your yard is home. Some day I should put together some family trees for these birds!

      • Louise says:

        Oh, a graphical family tree would be awesome. If you want help digitizing these digitigrades’ relationships, let me know! 😉

  3. Thank you – Kirwan is endearing. Plus, I learned about plantigrade and digitigrade walking – and that what look like backward knees are really ankles! 🙂 it must be so amazing to watch the babies grow up, and the adults return! Luckily, we get to watch through your blog.

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