Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Bird days

For those of us (fools) who put out bird feeders and keep them stocked with a variety of goodies, this year has been crazy with the birds.  I don't know if it's the weather or what, but come 7:30am or thereabouts, I have an amazing number and variety of birds.  Yesterday and today I had at my feeder:

A red-shafted flicker (he likes the suet!)
Two crows (the local ones are normally too shy to come this close--as they learn that will change and they might even learn to eat out of our hands)
The starling (sigh)
A pair of goldfinches (first of the year!) in breeding colors
At least a dozen evening grosbeaks
More pine siskins than you can shake a stick at
At least three pairs of house finches (we started with one lonely pair)
A family of chickadees--there are at least three
The ever-persistent nuthatch
The juncos (of course)
The family of five Stellar jays
A pair (at least) of scrub jays

All. At. Once.
(I may link more birds to this post later but I think this will do for now.)

It's like a circus out there.  As shy as the flicker is around people, he's not at all shy around other birds.  He's big enough that even the grosbeaks won't mess with him.  He sits on the tree, leans over and pecks at the suet or sometimes lands on the feeder (which tips it precariously) where he sits folded over with his tail braced on the underside and removes large chunks of suet.  The stellar jays fly in, scattering everyone but the grosbeaks, and then they fly to the ground after the grosbeaks don't budge, chasing the juncos, finches and sparrows to the perimeter of the dropped-feed zone where they pick in the grass and mud.  A car goes by, flushing the grosbeaks, and everyone else zooms in to eat before they come back.  Pine siskins and the goldfinches duke it out at the nyjer feeder, while chickadees and the nuthatch duke it out at the suet bar.  The house finches steal meals here and there at the nyjer feeder but the pine siskins, which are surprisingly aggressive considering their small size, dominate.  The crows watch and wait for opportunities wherever they may arise.  They can't fit on the feeder but they move on the ground at a stately pace picking up the big chunks of nuts that are too much for the smaller birds to handle (the grosbeaks ignore the nuts and usually sweep them out of the feeder in favor of sunflower seeds.)

You can hear the noise from all these birds wherever you happened to be upstairs.  Down here in my office, their voices don't quite reach.

And at my kitchen window:
A rufous hummingbird and two female (or juvenile?) hummers of undetermined species

I know it's baffling to a lot of people.  Why on earth would I feed the birds?
I guess it's like having an aquarium (which I also enjoy but don't currently have one set up) except that at a bird feeder, you never know who's going to show up.  I like it better than tv.  And it keeps my cats entertained.  They watch hummingbird tv while they eat on the kitchen counter.  So do most people who enjoy bird feeding also enjoy aquariums?  Is it a brain/personality thing?  Do those people also typically find gardening rewarding?  Are they fascinated by terrariums as children?  I sure was.  

Sorry, gotta go.  I want to see who else is going to show up at the feeder this morning.


Steve Perry said...

"A rufous hummingbird and two female (or juvenile?) hummers of undetermined species"

Probably Ana's Hummingbirds -- smaller, narrower bills? They stay here year round -- I keep my feeder out and they use it all winter. Got babies now, and dueling males ...

Carole said...

Like having an aquarium.

Yep, that's how I see it too and for as long as I can afford to, I'll keep feeding them.

We have flocks of both gold and white crowned sparrows now and haven't seen a bright gold finch since that warm weekend a few back.

Kami said...

We do get Anna's Hummers out here too. I hadn't thought about keeping a feeder up year-round. I should. My mom keeps hers up and has a warming light by it. The hummers bask in the heat during the winter while they feed.
The other thing I'd like to set up eventually (I have all the necessary parts) is a water fountain with the right depth (very shallow) water so the hummingbirds will use it for bathing. My pal CS has some extraordinary pics of a hummingbird using her fountain for a bird bath. They dip their little beaks into the flow and let the water cascade over them. I can relate. I do the same thing in the show. Aaahhhh ...

Sheesh, Carole, I thought for sure you'd have goldfinches coming out of your ears by now! You always have tons more than me. Over here it's still just the two, one male, one female.

Kami said...

That should have been shower, not show. Oops. Heh. One of these days I'll learn to preview my comments. I get lazy with the editing thing. Bad writer, bad! No bone for you.

Steve Perry said...

Typographical errors are but one more reason why we need editors. No points deducted for that one.

The Moody Minstrel said...

...and a partridge in a pear...


Rory said...

I happen to have a very fine pear tree, too!

Kami, lazily posting as Rory