Tag Archives: wild birds

The wild bird droves

Every day, I barely shut the door behind me after flinging out bird seed for the songbirds, and the hordes have descended.  Where were they waiting?There’s a big crowd now every day.  Goldfinches, Eastern Grosbeaks, Purple Finches, Woodpeckers, Nuthatches, and Juncos. Chickadees of course.Juncos. Then I’ll glance out and the scene is deserted.  Look closer- there’s three bluejays.  They know how to clear a room.

Even though it seems like a lot of birds, I’m acutely aware of how the numbers of song birds are reduced, in my direct observation, in the last thirty years.  All of them now seem to be lingering survivors.

Hello! Forgetting something?

The chickadees returned a few days ago.  Four of them appeared.  One of them danced around in the specific place where the feeder was hung last year, and then stared firmly through the window at us before a big swoop in front of the glass and departure.  It couldn’t have been a clearer message without throat clearing.  Excuse me!  Time for the feeder!

It’s kind of amazing, they understand that the food has to do with us, in the window.  That’s a big cognitive leap for a brain the size of a pea, that’s already full of nest engineering, seed extraction techniques, vocalizing, and maps.

I obeyed, and hung the feeder, full of the seeds I grew, but they didn’t come back.  They’d probably gone directly to the next stop, where someone was more prompt about putting out the winter seeds.

Until today!  A squad of chickadees at least 8 deep (they’re hard to count), arrived all at once.  I didn’t know that chickadees were so “flocky” either.  I thought they were more independent.

They’re back!!

It’s nice to see a chickadee that was around all last winter, still alive and returned.   Maybe with some offspring, teaching them where the winter hunting grounds are. We don’t see very much of them through the summer.


I was yanking out St. John’s Wort along our woods path, and I saw a little flutter.  There was an itty bitty bird, hopping along in the duff.

Because it allowed me to, I reached out and picked it up.  I thought at first it was a chickadee, but the way it grabbed on my hand indicated a woodpecker.

Then I noticed the tip of its beak was all gummed up, and I picked and pulled at that.  I think it was sap, full of dirt. Very sticky.  As soon as I got most of it off, and it could open its beak, it squawked!

I carried it home for a photo shoot and to show HW.  It seemed pretty content.  Chicks tend to like being held, after initially being disgruntled.  Oh, I’m warm.  This isn’t so bad.

Then I took it back to where I’d found it.  I tried to put it on a tree, quite sure it was a creeper, but it fluttered back down to the ground.  I retired and watched.

It started cheeping.  Peep, peep peep.  Peep, peep peep.

Sure enough, a nuthatch appeared in the overstory.  Of course, nuthatch!  It flew off in the wrong direction, but I was quite sure it had been looking for the source of peeping first, so it was probably off for a grub to return with.

Later on, the baby was gone so I’m sure it was fine.  Possibly its beak was shut with the sap, though, so that it couldn’t make noise.  I like to think I helped it.

It’s a fallacy that parent birds reject chicks if you touch them.  The best thing to do for a fallen chick is to replace it in the nest or the branches of a tree and wait for the parents to return.

Quiet after the storm

We got snow.  It’s over my knees everywhere that it isn’t drifted even higher.

The blizzard is over, but it will take us a while to dig out.  Now 5300 in the province are out of power.I’m sore from slogging around on snowshoes yesterday, and HW is sleepless from ice beating on the windows all night.

The animals are all fine, grosbeaks and goldfinches back.  There’s a dozy bunny resting in the snow 20 ft from the house with eyes half closed.  Been there more than two hours now.  Took a break to wash himself like a cat, including licking front paws (so cute!).  Now the rabbits can reach all the hardwood bark that was too high before.

And the squirrel is back above ground.

img_5421img_5437 img_5430

The nuthatch isn't very good at using the feeder
The nuthatch isn’t very good at using the feeder
You’re doing it wrong.
Haven’t seen a blue jay in ages
The rabbit stayed all day in the same place- six hours, unperturbed by our comings and goings.


The beginning of bird dependency

The grosbeaks are back.  In fact, in larger numbers than I’ve seen before.

The first time (10 am, as always) I heard them outside and registered the familiar piercing cries vaguely in the background.

Then I opened the door to step out, and more than 50 burst up from the ground right in front of the door into the trees, like they’d been staging a grosbeak Occupy.  Wow, ok.  They looked down on me from the treetops, and I obediently went to get a bucket of sunflower seeds, and scattered them on the ground.  Obviously they remember this was a decent port-of-call last year, and they’re back.

They’ve been back every second day since.  They should be called Morning Grosbeaks, not Evening Grosbeaks, because they appear here only in the morning as reliable as clocks.  I always wonder where they spend their afternoons.  They must have a route.

I don’t have a feeder out yet – it hasn’t snowed or been very cold.  Besides, grosbeaks prefer to spread out on the ground and forage, with a couple sentries overlooking from the trees.  They only squawk and fight over the limited ports of a feeder.

One day the grosbeaks came, cluttering up the trees around the house, calling and literally looking in the windows at me (the trees are so close branches brush the house in wind).  Ok, ok! I got up and fed them.  That day there were over a hundred, amazing!

The chickadees come too, and the squirrels have territorial dispute chases.  Soon I’ll put up a feeder and then be as obliged to the wild birds all winter as I am to my chickens.