Tag Archives: songbirds

The return of winter

Winter was back for a few days.  The wild birds descended in clouds for something to eat, including a few new birds.

There was a purple finch.  This is sad because it’s the first purple finch sighting of the year, when normally there would be many of them all winter.Here’s a sad robin. I don’t eat seeds.  

Now that the rain has come and washed away the snow, she’s eating well, if she survived her three day fast.

There was a red-breasted nuthatch, tiny and adorable in a little badger mask.  I’d never seen one before.

And then in swooped a small hawk, who perched on the pile of sticks, right in the middle of everything.Instant ghost town.

It’s a tough life being  a hawk.  You show up to hang out and everyone leaves.

She patiently sat around.  I took pictures, looked her up in the bird book. A juvenile sharp-shinned hawk, I think (feeds on song birds).  So small.  She stayed.  No one else moved.On the small bird feeder, one chickadee stayed motionless, locked on the raptor.  Many minutes passed.On her usual perch, the squirrel was also stock still, staring at the little hawk.

Finally, she swooped away, and the raucous bird shouting and activity resumed.  The chickadees recovered first.

I’ve been using the “roofs” of the beehives as bird tables, for the wild birds that would rather eat on the ground.  The chickens come moseying along and frustrate them, so they’re happy to use the tables. They’re learning to share.

Birdland

Ketchup and Mayo, hangin’.  They’re so mild.  I think it was from being raised by a Silkie hen.  They won’t leave Silkieland, even though they can.  They come and go from inside to out, visiting the roosters on the outside, but always back in at night.There was  a hummingbird trapped in the greenhouse, zooming back and forth, stopping to refill at tomato flowers.  I thought it best to not interfere and hope he got out.  The dragonflies and bees don’t have any trouble this year, now that I have “screen doors” of orange snow fence.

Every day a vireo comes and goes through the door; I don’t even know what he’s shopping for.  And the chicken feed supports not only chipmunks and bunnies, but also a red winged blackbird or two and a pair of mourning doves.

I saw another sparrow smash into my protectively screened windows, too.  That’s two that I’ve seen, so who knows how many near misses there’ve been.  He was bounced back and sat on the clothesline to regroup, looking back at the windows like WTH?  There’s some kind of force field!The tweens on an adventure.  They’re getting used to coming to the house, although something spooks them at times and they sprint away to familiar territory squawking.   I can’t figure out what’s getting them like that – a rabbit or a bee?  One of the tweens was in the woods today practicing crowing.  He needs to keep practicing.   And his attempt at privacy was a failure.  The other roosters all fell silent, listening.  Him: Glragh ga grleagggh!  Other roosters:  Wow.  He’s got a ways to go.  He really does.  Crowing is not something you’re born able to do, if you’re a chicken, though perhaps the vocalizing urge is.

I lucked out with three colours of snapdragons germinating.  I know, they’re not window box plants (although I don’t know how big they could/should get) but they were just tiny threads when I transplanted them and I didn’t have ambitious hopes for them.

I almost had a repeat performance of the great keet hunt last night.  The sun’s going down earlier, it’s catching me out.  I found Galahad tucked away (this time in blackberry brambles – smart) while there was still light, but it took some work to chase out the keets.  Heeey, we were all tucked in. Once flushed, he took them all to the greenhouse, so crisis averted!

Time to feed the birds!

It snowed last night, so it’s time to put out a birdfeeder for winter (I’ve cast some seeds out before on the cold November days, but now I’ll maintain this food source so the birds may become dependent).

This means, what’s in the recycling right now I can make a feeder from?  Rather than walking all the way to the shop for the one I made last year.

It’s always fun to see how long it takes for the birds to find it.  Under an hour for a full banditry of chickadees to show up.  Then song sparrows and a purple finch, just like that.

A troupe of Eastern Grosbeaks comes through periodically, every 3-4 days in the winter.  They must be making a circuit of local food sources.

Robin’s nest

They grow up so fast!  No longer hairless wonders.
They grow up so fast! No longer hairless wonders.

We have a clutch of robin’s eggs in the shed.  Three nearly hairless little birds, asleep whenever I look at them.  That means we will have to try and keep the shed from falling down before they fledge.

H.W. discovered them; he was always seeing the robin in the same place, looking “up to something”.

The mother, and possibly father (sometimes there’s two), it’s true, are always boinging around in the area, like they’re on springs, the way robins do.  Usually there’s something hanging out of the beak, too, so they’re working hard bringing up the babies.

I just learned that crows (I admire, adore, respect, revere corvids) are primarily an urban bird, and a formidable predator to most songbirds. So if crows show up here, it will be because we drew them here, providing them with resources.  I plan to try to deter them, to preserve the bird life that was flourishing here before we got here.  Crows are flourishing all over the world because of their brains and adaptability, but the songbirds they predate are threatened and in retreat everywhere that people expand their habitation into rural areas.  I want to protect and encourage the local birds that were here before we were.

I want this robin’s chicks to make it, since I’m pretty sure it was a raven that savaged my barn robin nestlings in BC.

There’s been one crow that flies over  high and fast in a straight line midmorning, then returns four or five hours later.  She’s shown no sign of stopping.   When he passes he riles up the hawk and owls – they all talk.  I remarked the crows really do sound different here, from B.C. crows, having just read about regional differences in corvid sounds.   H.W. said  “Mmm, the Maritime accent?”

A few birds need to be encouraged to stay.  Swallows (and bats too).  We could stand for a whole lot more blackflies to get swallowed.  There’s a house up the road that has dozens of birdhouses up, and the air and wires around them are filled with tree swallows, so they’re doing something right.  I hope it’s an if you build it they will come scenario.