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NatureReflections - January 5, 2006

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Nature Reflections

January 5, 2006

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Gray MerriamLegaleseGeneral information and opinion on legal topics by Rural Legal ServicesNature Reflectionsby Jean GriffinNight Skiesby Leo EnrightTastes oftheOttawa Valley Courtesy of the Fall RiverPub & Grill, Maberly

My Window Feeder

by JeanGriffin

A bird feeder is attached to the outside of my window by suction cups, just at eye level when I am sitting in the chair next to the window. I fill it with sunflower seeds and while the chickadees and nuthatches enjoy the seeds I enjoy watching them.


It is very popular with the chickadees, but one at a time, please. Each one darts in and usually quickly picks up one seed and is gone to its favourite perch. Occasionally one will sit on top of the pile of seeds and, apparently checking for the fattest one, will pick up and discard one after another several times, meanwhile objecting to the arrival of another bird. Then it will fly away with that special seed, land on a branch on the Black Locust tree (the nearest one to the window), tuck the seed under its feet, and peck away the shell until it can get the meat inside.

I have never been able to count the number of chickadees as they come and go so quickly, sometimes to the locust tree, sometimes further away in the pines. At times they come and go so quickly they almost seem to need a traffic director. Needless to say the pecking order comes into play, and that aggressive chickadee will cause the others to hesitate, or flair up to the roof of the house waiting until that one is gone, and then quickly take their turns. Sometimes two or more birds arrive at once - but it is more often a waiting game.

I enjoy the chickadees but my favourite bird at the feeder is the little Red-breasted Nuthatch. Since I have seen three at the same time in the trees, I think there is actually a family of them. Like the chickadees, it is ‘one at a time, please’, and then it is off to a place to hide or eat the seed. Often darting to the locust tree, it will land on a large branch or trunk, usually upside down. With its characteristic nuthatch habit of going up and down the limb it seems to be seeking a crevice in the bark in which to tuck the seed. Many times it appears to be storing the seed for future use, as it is quickly back for another. Other times it will tuck the seed into the crevice, then, again usually upside down, peck vigorously until it has its lunch.

Another occasional visitor is a female Hairy Woodpecker. She will come and cling to the edge of the feeder, eyeing me as she does, and toss aside a few seeds before finding one she likes and then takes off. A Downy Woodpecker will come to the locust tree, but does not seem to have the courage to come to the feeder, instead looks for seeds hidden by the nuthatch.

Naturally the Blue Jays want the sunflower seeds, and I usually scare them away to make room for the smaller birds. Smart birds! They have learned if I am sitting in the chair that it is best to stay away. So they come and sit in the locust tree, sometimes preening, but usually just watching. If I move away one will quickly land on the feeder, and greedily cram in as many seeds as possible before flying away. For the first few days after the feeder went up, when I left the chair I tried placing a 9 x 12 picture of my grandson in the window, and for those first few days the jays would not come, though the picture did not bother the other birds. It did not take long for the jays to realize it was not a live person!

The White-breasted Nuthatches have apparently not found the feeder. Occasionally a single American Goldfinch will spend a few minutes. And on one day there was one Evening Grosbeak sitting in it. What else will arrive over the coming winter months?

Observations: David Hahn, Canoe Lake Road, reports he had a Red-bellied Woodpecker at his feeder one day in early December - has anyone else seen it? David also had a few Common Redpolls and a Northern Shrike. Share your sightings; call Jean at 268-2518 or email currawong13.

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