Friday, December 17, 2010

Oh, Nuts ... and Suet and Seeds too

With the ground snow covered, I think birds must find it difficult to find food. Our three feeders at the front of our house are full—suet for fat-eaters and sunflower and nyjer for seed eaters. Because of the snow, when I filled the feeder this morning with the sunflower seeds, I scattered extra handfuls nearby on the snow and under evergreen trees where many of the birds seek shelter.

In the backyard, I put extra peanuts (in shells) out for blue jays, which is a joke because the blue jays “sleep in” and crows get the peanuts 95% of the time—as they did again this morning. The late-arriving blue jays didn’t lose out entirely because they soon were vacuuming up sunflower seeds under the feeders in the front yard.

Our feathered visitors never cease to fascinate me. When the jays discover their morning seeds or peanuts, their screams echo through the neighborhood with the news of food discovery.

The crows approach the peanuts with all the dignity of pigs—often trying to stuff two or three unshelled peanuts into their mouths and beaks before flying a more secure place to shell the nuts. That can be comical if a crow puts a large peanut into its mouth and then tries to pick up a smaller peanut with its beak. The beak just won’t close enough to pick up the smaller nut.

The cardinals and juncos are the “early birds,” arriving before the sun rise above the pines and leaving after sunset. And then there are the one-seed-at-a-time titmice and chickadees—making endless trips to carry away one seed at a time while other species just sit at the feeders and shell away.

My favorites are the song sparrows, ground feeders who kick up a storm of mulch or snow seeking bits of seeds dropped from the feeders by other species, though a few have figured out how to enter the feeder. What I really enjoy most, though, is when a song sparrow hops onto our nearby window ledge and pecks on our window, as in the first photo. I’m flattered that the bird likes to greet us--and I dismiss any thought that it really is attacking its own reflection in order to guard its “turf.”

What a relaxing and entertaining wintertime hobby—feeding the birds.

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