I guess you can't really accuse me of lying when I posted Final Bird Photo? because I did phrase it as a question rather than a pronouncement. Since then, I have sorted through a few more of The Boy's photos and find that they seem to demand publication. There are also several developments on the bird front that I feel inclined to share.
One observation is that the critters keep me guessing. Just yesterday morning I stood at the window, gazing on the activity in The Feeding Tree, and I observed that the squirrel was dominating the tree and bullying my poor, innocent chickadees. Not to worry: whenever we showed up, he departed although not without a administering a thorough scolding or two. However, we had always ended up alone with the birds: just them and us and no interferring, pesky squirrel. I mused that it was interesting to see that the birds feared him but that he feared us.
Apparently I was wrong, for at the very next feeding, red squirrel demanded attention first and foremost. Cuppa placated him with a generous dollop of peanut butter, and he just hunkered right down and began to lick the branch clean. He didn't budge an inch from his trove while we smeared peanut butter in other branches and the birds performed their usual and enthusiastic flitter and twitter.
The other observable trend is the increasing boldness of the chickadees, for almost as soon as we exit the back door, which is a large double driveway and more from The Feeding Tree, they begin to perform flyovers and hovering routines. It's almost as though they are escorting us to The Feeding Tree although we can now stop a long way from the tree, hold out some PB, and have them descend to feed. I have seen up to three birds feeding simultaneously from Cuppa's hand. Yesterday, to make the landing platform more commodious, I held my hand adjacent to Cuppa's. That worked too.
So, the training continues to go well: so well, that they buzz us as soon as we poke our heads out the door. I take it they are instructing us to never leave home without it — without the peanut butter that is. Yes, they've done a good job of training us.
Even when we were relatively far away on our river walk the other day, several chickadees landed nearby and regarded us rather expectantly. I doubt that we're that trainable, however: surely not trainable enough to be coerced into carrying a jar of peanut butter through wood, over field, and on water.
But if the little blighters keep at it, there's no telling what they may yet accomplish with these ponderously clumsy but beneficent bipeds.