Tag Archives: song birds

This hat sees a lot of action

I was quietly working, when there was a bird-window thump, on the north window.  No one ever flies into the only, small, north window, and it’s not shielded.  Not a terrible, dire, sickening thump, but I thought I should check, anyways.

There was a chickadee under the window, motionless, wings splayed awkwardly, beak and eyes open, feet clutching a chunk of the brown leaves that it fell on.

It went straight into the hat.  All birds in trouble around here get the hat treatment.

I know from watching them recover that they are quite helpless for several minutes, and they can get all their functions back, but they come back in stages.  The best thing to do with a stunned bird is put it somewhere warm, dark, and safe for 20-30 minutes, then give it the opportunity to fly away.

I couldn’t help peeking.  Feeling better?

It seemed to perk up, righted itself, moved around in the hat, but I was determined to give it a full 20 minutes and sat beside it, waiting.

It had other plans.  I saw the hat move, right next to me, but before I could even react, the bird came shooting out, apparently in flight even before leaving the hat.  It flew upstairs.


I opened all the doors.  It was collapsed in a windowsill, panting. Not quite as well as it thought it was.

It let me pick it up, and we went outside, and I set it on the railing.  Still having a hard time

After a little bit it fluttered around my head and lit on the clothesline.  Good spot.   It did a bunch of heavy blinking and lots of staring at me, ceased panting, and eventually, flew to perch in a tree.  Moments after that, it appeared to get its bop back.  Happy ending.

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.

Song bird buffet

It’s like hosting a dinner party where unexpected guests come.  You feel obligated to feed them all.

The attendance at my feeders this year has increased almost five-fold, judging by the bags of black oil seed I’ve bought this year.  I don’t begrudge buying them seed, but sheesh, I’m gonna have to try growing a crop of sunflowers, at this rate.

There are two distinct flocks, the grosbeak clique, and the sparrows.  The Evening Grosbeaks show up first thing in the morning (?), populate the treetops, and shout while I do the chores.  They wait for me to clear the area and put away the dog before they descend.  They are SO loud, and very sensitive.  The slightest movement will send them up in the air like a gust of wind.  They move on by mid morning, and then it’s the sparrows’ turn.

Last year, the Grosbeaks came every two or three days, and not in these numbers.  This winter, they seem to tell more friends every week.  I was surprised at first when I counted 17 males at once.  Wow!  Now there are more than 30, daily (the ladies are there in equal numbers, but much harder to count in their subtle colours.

I have six feeder ports, and the perches are long sticks, so sometimes the birds queue two deep on them, waiting their turn, and of course, squabbling.  You’re hogging!  You’ve had FOUR seeds, get out of here!

The raspberry birds (purple finches) hang with either the grosbeaks or the sparrows.  Last year, it was exciting to see two.  This year, I counted eight! at once!  Sometimes there’s a nuthatch, or a couple of juncos.  There are three woodpecker regulars.  They are exceedingly awkward when they try to get into the feeders, miserably trying to creep on and cling to the swinging milk jug, and twist their head into the hole.  When they manage a position that works, they stay for a while.  The creepers are much more at home attacking the wads of beef fat I hang so picturesquely in the trees.

The flock of goldfinches also go with either the sparrows or the grosbeaks.  They amuse me when they browse the ground with the grosbeaks, because they are so similar in colouring to the big birds, but a quarter of the size, they look like little mini-mes.

I cast a lot of seed on the ground.  All the visitors seem comfortable ground foraging, and six ports seems pretty unfair when 50 birds are here at once.  The female grosbeaks and sparrows and goldfinches blend in so well that you can’t pick them out of the background of frozen bare ground until they move, and it can look like the ground is rippling when they are working methodically.  This winter is so different.  The ground has been exposed more often than not, and the temperature fluctuates wildly and often.


Meantime, there are the constant chickadees, who are outnumbered and outshouted by the others (and don’t object to photographs).  While the two flocks come and go, the chickadees avoid the crowded times and work the feeders all day, first in in the morning and last out at dusk, even working around the squirrel.

Even with these numbers, there has only been one casualty this winter (and one last).  The window ribbons are working pretty well.