Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Feeding Frenzy

Please permit me at least one more post about birds and birdfeeders. I submit the first picture to introduce you to another bird, other than the chickadee, who has been enjoying our gerry-rigged feeding station. I also submit the same photo to depict our homemade feeder.

Strange things occur up here at the cottage. Over the years, Sue and I have brought up many Gladware containers. To our dismay, they have all disappeared. Where they all went without their lids, I am not certain, but the lids chose to remain on the premises when the dishes opted to wander off. The ever-ingenious Cuppa decided to use of the idle lids as feeding platforms.

So, what you see in the photo is a Red-breasted Nuthatch perching on one of these, Cuppa-designed feeders. She smeared the base with peanut butter in order to stick the popcorn to it. What we didn't know at the time was that the birds would disdain the popcorn but devour the peanut butter. However, we have now attracted some bluejays who, I assume, are enjoying the popcorn. The red squirrels have also discovered the station and refuse to let our makeshift feeder hang in peace. No sooner do we now repair it than the squirrels knock it askew.

These red squirrels are not like the black or grey ones that we are more familiar with back home. They are smaller, faster, noisier, and terribly sassy. They scamper about with great alacrity and chatter vociferously. In summer, should they find you reclining on the hammock under their trees, they will screech their displeasure. If you remain immune to their scoldings, they will begin to hurl items such as pine cones at your recumbent form. They are feisty critters
but cute as the dickens, and I can't help but love them.

Back to the birds: red-breasted nuthatches are similar in size to chickadees, and they act much like chickadees in the sense that they show very little fear. Both species will perch and feed while you are standing very close by. They look at you looking at them and go about their business. Both types of birds flit about so quickly that I didn't even realize there were, indeed, two different species until I later saw the pictures. In fact, it was Cuppa who first spotted the difference.

My only regret is that the feeding tree isn't closer to the house. It's across the driveway where we can see the flitting forms but not nearly as closely as we would like. We also bought a genuine suet ball while in the city and will hang it some sunny day but from a different tree. Our thinking is that with only one item in the tree, I can train my camera right on it and not have to swivel it about frantically trying to focus on the whirling and darting critters in their feeding frenzy.

I trust you'll love the expressions on these two birds (actually a composite of the same bird) in the second photo. It depicts yet another Cuppa feeding method: stick some peanut butter to a piece of apple and lodge the slice into a crook or impale it on a branch. Except that the deer seem to have discovered the apples too. I don't mind that either, but I wish they would choose to dine when I am looking their way.

Of course, they could still be a little skittery after hunting season. Do you think?


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