Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Wednesday Vignette: Bird Waystation

I was having breakfast Monday morning when I noticed there was a flurry of bird activity going on just outside.  Visitors have increased since I filled the feeders a couple of weeks ago but this level suggested a population explosion.  As the birds fly off as soon as I open the door, I caught the action as best I could from inside the house.  I couldn't capture live action shots to reflect the traffic patterns but the activity was focused on the feeders and, to a lesser extent, the fountain.  However, like well-behaved kids in line at the cafeteria,  the birds waited out openings at the front of the line from nearby waystations.

Or at least the smallest birds, the finches, did

I quickly determined that the population explosion I mentioned was due to a large influx of white-crowned sparrows, winter visitors here.  While the finches chose to await their opportunities at the feeder sitting on the bare branches of the Ginkgo tree, the sparrows chose the cover of the nearby Arbutus 'Marina', the tree-sized Leucadendron 'Pisa', and the thicket of foliage beneath the latter.



Activity at the fountain was more subdued.

Male and female lesser goldfinches:  in between baths, they headed either back to the Ginkgo tree or directly to the feeders

A male white-crowned sparrow hung out in the Echium webbii behind him between baths

Of course, there are always bullies who push others out of the way seeking to get their piece of the pie first.  That morning, the biggest bullies were the scrub jays.  I didn't catch a photo of them at either the feeder or the fountain, although they scattered the smaller birds to visit both.

And then there are the opportunists.  The squirrel was ever-present on the ground below the feeder, gobbling up the seed scattered by the birds.  But another character insinuated himself yesterday afternoon.

This is Skippy, a neighborhood cat who believes he owns my garden and probably all the gardens between here and his home.  His rapt attention to the plants below the Leucadendron suggested that the sparrows were still around.

I think Skippy recognizes me but he never lets me get closer than 2 feet.  He hunts my garden regularly, although I've never seen him catch anything and he's obviously well fed.  However, I've caught him eating Nepeta whenever I'm foolish enough to plant it.

When he realized I wasn't going to leave him to his business, he headed out.  The flock of sparrows seems to have scattered too, or the fact that the birds managed to empty two of the three feeders has simply made the back garden feeding station less attractive.

For more Wednesday Vignettes, visit Anna at Flutter & Hum.


All material © 2012-2021 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party

14 comments:

  1. Cool bird activity! We are getting the white-crowned sparrows here also, and several flocks of wren-tits passing through. The local scrub jay makes a big noisy show of monopolizing the bird bath for 10 minutes or so every afternoon.

    Crossing fingers for a little rain tomorrow--next Tuesday looks more promising. We can hope.

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    1. The scrub jays do seem to be putting on an act to reinforce their dominance, don't they? They can't get much of anything out of my feeders as their weight closes the seed portals.

      Our local forecast suggests we could get a tenth of an inch of rain between tonight and tomorrow but projects an inch on Monday and 4/10ths of an inch on Tuesday. The latter projections are still too far off to count on but I've got my fingers crossed. We picked up 5/100ths of an inch earlier this week.

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  2. Bird-watching is so fascinating, isn't it? I can see why they love you garden. :) We have so many birds around here year-round, too. The ones out on the coldest of days amaze me. I hope the kitty won't eat your birds.

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    1. Skippy doesn't hang around our house too much, probably because I roust him every time I see him. He seems to spend most of his time down at the bottom of the slope, presumably tracking rodents. As someone in the neighborhood was poisoning rats last year, I wish his people would keep him inside but he's been an outdoor cat as long as I've lived here so I expect that kind of adjustment would be nearly impossible for him and his people.

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  3. I am always intrigued to see your lovely birds. White crowned sparrows are quite new to me, they are beautiful.

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    1. The white-crowned sparrow are winter visitors here but they're generally quite active while they're here :)

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  4. Interesting that they choose different trees to perch in... I've been watching for birds lately. My stepdad gave me a new telephoto lens that is stronger than the one I had, and I'm dying to see if I can take better bird photos with that one. I think I need to add some feeders to their backyard. Would love to see a show like yours. Well done attracting so many!

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    1. Apparently, the sparrows prefer shrubby undergrowth as protection. Good luck with your new camera lens - feeders (and water sources) are great for attracting birds.

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  5. Watching (and listening to) birds is very enjoyable and calming.
    Skippy seems too well fed to be motivated to catch anything, but no matter his age or girth, he can't resist his instincts to track and pounce... I find it hilarious to watch. Skippy may have used a some of his 9 lives already...

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    1. I frankly worry about Skippy, although he seems to know how to take care of himself. He's managed to avoid the cars that can travel all too fast on our neighborhood road among other things.

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  6. Skippy looks like he's a character all right, perhaps a little grumpy. As for the scrub jays, I think bully is their middle name.

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    1. Skippy isn't pleased when he's interfered with in "his" garden. I entirely agree as to the scrub jay's behavior with other birds. My brother's adopted one with a deformed beak he's named Bowie (along with her mate, Mr B), though, so they can be endearing too.

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  7. Exciting to see so many birds! I love that first flurry of activity when the feeders first go up. I think the chickadees, nuthatches and titmice cache seeds for later on, then after a couple weeks, the activity slows down to a less frenetic pace. I don't know what I'd do if there weren't any birds here in winter. They make the dormant land seem so much more alive.

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    1. I noticed that the white-crowned sparrow seem to come into the garden periodically enmasse whereas the finches are here every day. The sparrows were back again today - and I think the feeders are almost empty again ;)

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