Sunday, September 07, 2014

Bird Feeder News September 7, 2014

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     The ruby throated hummers are still around but not in so many numbers. I do like them quite a bit. When they buzz me, they sound like miniature motors.

     The band of tufted titmice have been back several times [when I was in the yard]. They spend more time flying around and chattering than they do eating.

     After an absence, the solitary red winged blackbird came back once with a few of his grackle buddies. But no missus in sight.

     I've been watching some immatures learn how to balance on and around the feeders-- they flap their wings-- and sometimes waiting on limbs demanding that one parent or the other drop seeds into their mouths. A small female purple finch was struggling with the feeders a couple of weeks ago. She would sit on the tray of the safflower feeder. A persistent chickadee would come by and eat at the same one. The baby would fly up the tree in fright. The chickadee would also fly away but then would come back as the baby settled back on the feeder. This happened several times. Then the baby allowed the chickadee to feed on the same feeder nearby. The purple finch immature came back today with a male purple finch in tow. He was younger also and was beautifully colored.

     A male downy has been a frequent visitor, hanging upside down from the peanut feeder and leaving very quickly with his prize. The two hairys that come by stay longer. One of the regular mourning doves got a bit annoyed with the male hairy. I don't know why. The dove flew right into the hairy as he was clinging to the sunflower kernel feeder and then dropped back to the ground. I've never seen a dove do anything like that before. The hairy immediately left. It was a bit curious for sure.

     The grackles continue in large numbers as do the chickadees and goldfinches. I've watched several goldfinches swinging off of a hoop as well as from an old-fashioned long-handled bird feeder hanger. None of the other birds in the yard use the swinging hoop. Must be a goldfinch thing. Some of the goldfinches are losing their breeding colors at a faster rate than some of the other ones. I'd say it's about 50 - 50 but don't quote me on that one.

     The six or seven house sparrows that hang in the top of the small pine tree in front of my house have been making the trip back for sunflower kernels. They seem to have claimed part of the tree limb for their own. When they feed, they squabble a bit among themselves and sometimes with the goldfinches as well.

     A pileated came to the tree directly behind the backyard once and then quickly left. A yellow-shafted flicker that I've observed in the neighborhood has finally come to visit the backyard but did not stay long. I've seen the flicker chasing larger birds in the field up from the house. Seems like there used to be more of them around.

     The three regular blue jays still come. Now there are two younger jays that come separately from the three. The two jays are a bit darker about the head. One of them looked a bit like he[?] needed to grow into his body. His head was so small that at first I thought he [?, who knows?] was deformed. I added unshelled peanuts this week. All of the blue jays were delighted and they frequently call [not the alarm call, the other one] when coming in to feed on them.

     Tonight, the dog almost had a tussle with a skunk. [The town is full of skunks of both the human and the four-footed variety]. The skunk was rooting around on the ground near the feeders. The dog went over and barked at him [?]. The skunk waddled off into some nearby undergrowth and sprayed a tiny bit. But not enough to douse the dog. I was glad of that. The cats are better behaved in the bathtub than the dog ever was.

     I will note here that any cats that I have are kept as indoor cats only. Period. There is one neighborhood cat that has a range of at least a half mile. He [?] climbs trees to wait for birds. I don't believe he is a stray as he is well-fed. I figure the birds are a dietary supplement for him. Besides fast cars, cats running loose can and do get into fights and other sorts of trouble. I know some people think that the idea of foxes eating cats has no basis in reality. I'm on the opposite side of that one. There's an island in the middle of nowhere in Maine that has both foxes and cats. Folks who live there swear that the foxes do stalk the cats. 

     We've got foxes-- gray and red both, skunks, possums, raccoon, woodchuck, coyote, several kinds of rabbit, beaver, shrews, deer, jumping mice, wild turkeys and some very large very fast hawks in the neighborhood. Add to that a bunch of feral cats along with some domestic cats and dogs whose owners are irresponsible. Things aren't exactly crowded here. For a city, that's quite a bit of wildlife.

                                 ~sapphoq and friends 

p.s. I was at the river today but duck migration was not in evidence. The water was fairly high for this time of year. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Bird Feeder News: August 19, 2014

     The bird feeders in the backyard have been especially busy the last three days. I continue to have every goldfinch in the neighborhood visiting. And the grackles. [One neighbor commented on the large number of "blackbirds" around. I let it go. He wasn't asking for my help in learning how to distinguish blackbirds from grackles]. And the red finches, the house sparrows, the three blue jays [all happy with the addition of a feeder containing peanuts], the mourning doves, some hummers, a nuthatch, and the usual assortment of black-capped chickadees. The male red-wing blackbird has not been here. I figure he finally found true love with a female of his own kind.

     I haven't seen the red-bellied woodpecker lately at the feeder but the hairy has brought along her mate. A set of exasperated house finch parents had a fledgling reluctant to fend for herself[?] at the feeders. She follows them around squawking her head off. A pair of tufted titmouse had a baby in tow who also squawked but he[? who knows really] appeared to be willing to learn what to do.

     A few black-capped chickadees showed up a couple of days ago with the three tufted titmouse in tow. Yesterday, a bunch of tufted titmouse flew in and pretty much invaded the feeders all at once. They were happily flitting around all over the tree. The tree was singing with them. Noisy little birds, darlings who chattered much more than they ate. They seemed to be having a grand time. They made me laugh. Today too, they came but in smaller bunches. 

     Some brown-headed cowbirds have showed up along with the grackles. I was able to concentrate on sharpening up my identification skills. The brown heads are a giveaway. The tails, I compared with grackle tails in order to cement the differences in my head. They stand differently than the grackles too.

     To my utter delight, I've had first one chippy  and now two who are ground-feeding. They make little "chip" sounds as they eat, and fly.

     Yesterday I watched a huge gray striped cat climb an oak tree behind us. People, cats outdoors become killing machines. Your cats [and mine] are much safer indoors away from birds, traffic, and diseases. Just saying.

                         sapphoq n feathered buddies

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Bird Feeder News: August 13, 2014

     The ruby-throated hummers continue to flock around the feeders and wildflower blossoms in the backyard. I have seen the pine siskin and red crossbill once since the last report. The red-winged blackbird was present during the later part of last week but not this week so far. I hope he's figured out that those grackle buddies of his are not looking to feather his nest. Also absent this week so far has been the red-bellied woodpecker.

     The chickadees and gold finches continue in abundance along with the grackles. I've had up to twenty grackles at one time in the yard. Several grackles wait for their turn at the platform feeders on a hook from which hangs a bell. The bell rings when they land on the hook. None of them have reacted in fear. One of the grackles was startled when he flew into one of the wind chimes along the fence. He came to a quick stop and then resumed his flight to visit the neighbor's yard. 

     The chickadees brought along one nuthatch yesterday. The chickadees are rather sociable little things and they buzz me all the time. When I filled up one of the platform feeders the other day, they continued their feeding from the hanging feeders and did not bother to fly off.

     I have spotted a male goldfinch swinging off of the loop I have hanging up for that purpose. I don't know if it the same male goldfinch who is doing the swinging or not. It is never one of the female goldfinches.

     I watched some young house sparrows attempt to maintain their balance while feeding from the hanging sunflower kernel feeder. They much have been newly fledged [from the pine! tree] because they were doing the excessive wing-flapping that I have watched other young ones do.

     Rounding out the crew is a female hairy woodpecker, a pair of purple finches, the morning doves, and an increase in numbers [since last week] of red finches.

     The gray squirrel that dominates one of the platform feeders continues to do so. He makes noises and chases other squirrels away when he is feeding. He has allowed a smaller red squirrel to feed from "his" feeder this week, along with one of the three regular blue jays and one of the regular chipmunks.

     The swallows continue to occupy airspace but do not visit my backyard. I have seen them lining up along the telephone poles in the countryside this past Saturday.

     I did see a hawk-like bird today on a tree in the neighborhood but was unable to get an identification.

sapphoq n feathered friends