I’ve been known to spend a good chunk of time watching the buffet station from inside the back door, which acts as a “blind” most of the time. I say “most” because some visitors either hear me despite my best stealth attempts, or somehow sense my presence and in a whoosh, everyone leaves the scene.
For the past two days, I’ve assumed my post much like this Blue Jay upon a Quaking Aspen. Blue Jays have a reputation of being the backyard bullies, but maybe there’s more to them that we don’t understand.
Perhaps they don’t mean to be grumpy and scare everyone away. Do they really want to embrace their neighbors, but don’t realize that their own size or loud squawks only serve to make others flee. Probably that’s just my possible consideration because innately they know that by being large and obnoxious they can partake of the feast without competition.
Eventually, though, the jays fly off and the Black-Capped Chickadees return, doing their chickadee-kind-of-thing as they fly in, grab a seed, dash out, sit on a limb, break the morsel into digestible bits, and repeat. Constantly. They’re so cheerful about it, these feathered sprites, but it must be an exhausting way to get a quick spurt of energy between dawn and twilight.
What pleases me is that with the chickadees come the Tufted Titmice, who like the jays before them, like to pause and consider the possibilities before settling on the best feeder to visit.
Any one that offers sunflower seed seems to be the buffet of choice.
Not so for Downy Woodpecker who also pauses upon the aspen.
Fresh suet is her meal par excellence.
The nuthatches, both red and white, this one being the latter, also enjoy the sunflower seeds, but they’ve been known to hang out at the suet feeder upon occasion.
One who thinks he’s a bird manages to make a liar out of the “squirrel proof” baffle and then takes a flying leap to the “squirrel proof” feeder.
For the moment, he is indeed baffled.
But that doesn’t stop him and he moves on to the next feast with his name on it.
Acting as he should, the feeders openings close as the outer “cage” slides down preventing the squirrel from dining. Surely it’s a success?
Kinda, sorta. He succeeds in opening the top, but fortunately, he can’t reach the seed and I learn a lesson: Don’t fill the feeder to the top and the squirrel won’t be able to show off how much of a glutton he truly is.
But, squirrels need to eat as well, so I do make a habit of spreading seed on the ground, which others like the Northern Cardinals appreciate. And I appreciate the color they add to mix.
Other ground feeders include the turkeys.
The neighbors’ dogs also like to snack when they think no one is looking, this being Finn.
His sister by another mother . . . and father (but don’t tell either one), briefly considers the suet, but then moves toward home when she hears her name called–not immediately, mind you, for she likes to test the limits.
One of the best ground feeders, however, comes by himself and takes off when others arrive. The Common Redpoll is hardly “common.”
And I have to wonder what passes through its bird brain, perhaps something like this, “Oh drat, I just stepped in turkey scat.”
Another favorite also likes feeding on the ground, in particular the females of the species.
I think that’s because the male Evening Grosbeaks hog the platform of the feeder above. They give her a talking to as she tries to land.
Other males are welcome . . .
time and again. And still the original two males remain in place.
In the end, in a defiant manner, she gains platform status on the other side.
And I gain more and more understandings for the more I watch the more I see, like the hierarchy that defines the behavior of the chickadees, turkeys, and grosbeaks; titmice are quick, but not as quick as chickadees; Downy Woodpeckers, like their Hairy cousins, always announce their arrival; Northern Cardinals do the same, but in a quieter fashion and tend to visit more often in the early morning and late afternoon light; while the Red-breasted Nuthatch performs a quick “Dinner-To-Go” stop, its White-breasted cousin likes to hang, upside down, of course, for minutes on end, and rather like the Blue Jay, clears the queue; Squirrel-birds love the challenge and in time will always find a way around the human’s attempt to baffle them; the neighbors’ dogs are harmless, but neighborhood cats can mean disaster; “common” should not be part of a common name; and ways of approaching and even timing of approach are all species specific; and color and drama are icing on the cake. This doesn’t even include the nighttime visitors, but when I turn on the light or check tracks in the snow come morning, I discover that deer, porcupines, raccoons, opossums, and foxes also stop by.
Feeding the need means more than that of my feathered and furred friends, for by feeding them, they also feed me.