Tag Archives: wild birds

Snow?

We have snow on the ground.  The guineas are utterly scandalized that going outside is not enjoyable.  They were just getting into it.The goldfinches have changed colours as though it was as easy as swapping out their winter jackets for a windbreaker, and not like it involves growing a new set of feathers.  Overnight, they’re suddenly bright yellow. Too cute.  Sitting chicken sleeping standing up, face tucked in.  Swaying.  The flash didn’t wake her.

And this:this is the amphibious chicken.  She can’t drink out of the water without standing in it.  I’m sure it’s great for the health of her feet, but nobody else’s health.  She’s causing me to cart a lot more water.

That is unsanitary!She doesn’t care.

Goodbye Toffee…Toffee is off to a new home tonight!  Very exciting.  He’s going to have 14 of his own ladies.  He’ll be standing real tall tomorrow:)  I’m glad.  I would have kept both him and Philippe Petit because they show all signs of being quality roosters, but both he and Philippe will both be happier without the other brother around.  They’ll both be feeling like they won the lottery, went to chicken heaven, waking up with a whole flock to themselves.  I wonder if Toffee will miss his first girls.  I think he’ll be amply consoled though.

Winter Storm

Times like this I love that we don’t have power to go out, because it surely would.  We’re getting a storm more appropriate to January, not March.  After a month of no snow, lots of sun, and temps so warm I was able to feed my bees (so glad of that now), wham! Dumping snow, howling winds.

Sticky snow, that looks so cool stuck on the windward side of everything. The house is being battered by wind, but really, sound is dampened by the think blanket of snow on all the trees.
And in the peaceful woods, there’s a chickadee bopping around.  It popped out of one of the laden spruces, which strikes me as an excellent choice of hideout:And in the middle of it, some birds still avidly feeding.  From bed we watch the horizontal snow, and birds riding it out on the waving branches, beaks into the wind.

Winter’s Back

I woke up to a blizzard and a handful of birds plaintively crying and fighting over the bird feeder.  Right at dawn- early birds!  Hey, it snowed!  There’s no food.  Only so many birds can get in the feeder at once. There was snow, and wind, and we had to go out multiple times during the day to refresh the food on the snow for the birds who were struggling in the wind.   They would sit in the tree all facing the same way so the wind didn’t ruffle their feathers, hanging on and riding the bouncing branches until there was too big a gust

Why do the Juncos go under the house?

The snow is thin and light and perfect for showing the tracks of hopping song birds. Bird crop circles.  Why the interest in these small stumps?  (view from our upper deck) The Juncos are a mystery.  They like to go under our house.   They even fly in, zooming under the window, and their footprints tell a story of great interest in the space under our house.

Why?  We have only two theories.  That they are getting grit from the bare dirt under the house for their little bird gizzards, or that they are taking seeds under there with them, to eat them where they are not standing in the snow.  And why just the Juncos?

Meanwhile in the GH, work has started on the dirt bath bale.  They are secretive about it though, almost as though they think they’re being naughty, and I haven’t caught anyone in the act.Except this guinea.  Just leaving!  So it might be the guineas.But it’s getting hollowed out.

The bird buffet

There’s a lot of birds here to eat these days.  Often I’m sure there are more than 100 birds here at once, although they are hard to count on the hop.  Much easier to count in a photo though.  So I did.  In the photo, there’s  +/-134!!! (I counted twice).  And the photo is cropping out the outliers and the sentries and ones hacking seeds open in the trees and the ones hopping around on our porch and under the house.

So this is how I go through six bags of seeds every winter.

The regular swoop cycle is funny.  The birds are all on the ground, foraging, and someone sounds the alarm, and the birds all swoop up into the trees.  But not really all.  There are always a few that stay behind, unperturbed.

I’m not leaving the buffet!  That’ll be another false alarm.  Bob’s twitchy today, I’m sure it’s nothing again.  Then the birds all settle back down out of the trees again to toss seeds peacefully for a bit…  Then someone squawks at a wind gust and it happens all over again.

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.

Nuthatchling

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.

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

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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.