Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Birds are Scrounging

With a gazillion things to do today, I just took 10 minutes to refill all of our bird feeders. We were having finch fights in the front yard and it wasn't pretty.

We usually have a pretty good idea as to the amount of food in the bird feeders by listening before we even look out of the window. If things are quiet and kind of low-level burbly, the feeders are mostly full. As things empty out, the noise level rises. When it's loud outside, I know to start looking for birds in strange places, usually clinging to the edges of window frames and peeking inside for someone to yell at. This morning was quite a frenzy because the back yard feeders were completely empty so the back yard crowd was encroaching on the front yard gang's territory.

Did I mention our birds are self-segregating? The goldfinches and lesser goldfinches (and I'm sure the occasional pine siskin as well) stick to the back yard almost exclusively. We have regular seed and some suet back there in addition to the thistle, but the goldfinches clearly rule back there. In the front yard, we didn't get anyone for a long time. Then, the chickadees started coming. Then the sparrows, then the house finches. Finally, in the past few days we've seen a titmouse or two which has been a hoot. I knew things were desperate out there when I saw a goldfinch hanging on the Christmas lights and eyeing the sock of thistle that nobody had been visiting before.

It's been "cold" around here (lows in the 40s and upper 30s at night) and the little featherbutts have slowed down their eating. But when they're hungry, they're hungry and scarcity makes them grumpy. The sheer entertainment value of seeing them all happy and playing around instead of fighting with each other was worth the ten minutes.


Linda said...

While I hate to bad mouth birds, yours are a little wimpy if temps in the upper 30s upset them. Our birds are out there now in the snow and cold (wind chills in the single digits at midday). Even more stressful is our treks out to fill those feeders.

On the bright side, we are all hoping for a snow day tomorrow--something neither the students nor the birds of sunny CA get to dream about from December to March.

Anonymous said...

Our birds have been a stitch. With bread being a part of every meal, I've always got little odd bits of bread left over. French bread begins to go stale within hours, and attains diamond hardness within 24 hours. So I've been breaking up the leftovers with a meat mallet (!) and spreading the crumbs for the birds.

One of the magpies thinks he is hot stuff -- he shows up and takes all the big pieces, then he hides them under the leaves that have fallen. Then he takes off, confident that his stash will be there.

Um, not so fast, dude.

A smaller brown bird (haven't id'd it yet) comes a few minutes after the magpie takes off -- and goes around uncovering all the bread and eating it.

Drama over breadcrumbs makes me laugh.

(I have a pair of chickadees in the giant spruce in the front yard.)


Anonymous said...

The few sparrow and chickadees here quietly take turns sitting in the shelter of the feeder protected from the wind, then give it up when another bird flies in for a few bites of seed and moments out of the cold. We will reach -18 by the end of the week. Our high today was 8. The Canada geese fly over the reservoir, but it is frozen over and they are having a rough go of it finding food in the snow along the banks. Our neighbors feed the geese and the deer, so the honking V's and dozen or so whitetails come in daily at 8 and 4.