Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Feeding Time / Part 1

The railing that runs around the deck is where I place birdseed at least twice a day, ideally once in the morning and once in the afternoon. A beautiful wide rimmed copper basin sits on top of a three-legged stand and has it’s home in a corner. This provides access, from two sides of the rail, for the all-important drink-water. Its location makes it easier for the baby birds to hop from the rail onto the edge of the basin. It is truly amazing how many kinds of birds appear, their different behaviors and how they interact. I grow more enchanted with them everyday. There is a mountain chickadee that likes to take his seed and sit on the iron rail that runs under a bench and chip away as he holds it between his feet. I surmise he likes to eat in his own private space, though I’ve noticed lately another is starting to join him. There are three kinds of nuthatches that come; the white-breasted, red-breasted and pygmy. The pygmy, the smallest, took a little while to figure out he could stand on the side of the water basin and dip his beak in without sliding spread eagle to his tummy, which is hard not to laugh at. The white-breasted, largest of the three, have an entertaining feature I’ve never observed in a bird. They will attempt, quite bravely, by opening up their wings, batman style, to intimidate either another bird or chipmunk from moving in on their precious spot. It is something to see this four-inch bird, standing on the rail, opening his wings and rocking from side to side pretending to be big and I guess scary. It works for some birds but hasn’t stopped any chipmunks. The chipmunk takes pause, as he gazes on this absurd vision, probably thinking “what the heck?’ before running him off the rail and continuing on his way. Chipmunks are highly entertaining, particularly when they are babies out and about for the first time. We had a batch of three one summer that were born with little stubs instead of full fury tails for an unknown reason. At least one survived for four more years and I nicknamed him Stubby. Stellar jays are usually the first to arrive in the morning. They keep a lookout jay that lets all the others know, once I’ve put the food out, with loud squawking. There are much sweeter bird songs than this one to wake to. I’m always so impressed though, at their ability to step aside and let the smaller birds have their turn. A pecking order seems to exist that they all somehow know. Pine siskins come in groups and sometimes completely fill the length of the rail, two to three deep, up to seventy or eighty at a time. They also love to line up around the water basin and I’ve seen them do a see-saw motion, one coming up as one goes down for their drink. These are just a few of the visitors that come. They bring me their various antics, inherent beauty, and sweet selves. I provide some seed and fresh water. Seems like a good deal to me.


No comments: