The birdfeeder in my side yard gets a lot of visitors — birds, chipmunks and squirrels. I love to put out seed that attracts a variety of avian visitors; I never tire of leaning on my kitchen counter and staring out the window at their antics. When the young birds roll in with their parents? It’s like watching a toddler check out a new food. The young birds sit hesitantly on the feeder, looking around with big eyes before they are prodded by a parent to eat! I smile. When the young squirrels walk in and start eating the sunflower seeds on the ground, I love to see how calm they are — like cats, their tails stretch straight out in back of them, resting peacefully on the ground; they are very cute. And the young birds who don’t know feeder etiquette yet are the funniest of all. When an adult finch can bully a baby blue jay it makes my day! I can laugh out loud!
Most of the birds get to be regulars, like the cardinals (2 pairs every year), blue jays, nuthatches, robins and tufted titmouse. The adults have a pecking order on the actual feeder with the blue jays the bullies of the bunch until the huge crows fly in for a snack and a caw. On the ground, however, the feisty house sparrows rule, while the shy cardinals skirt the edges. And my chipmunks? They have red rumps!
Every once in a while I get a really stellar visitor. In 2009 I told you about the red-bellied woodpecker and his search for bugs between the cracks of my sidewalk. Also in 2009 the hawk played peek-a-boo with my daughter Tory. And then there were the red-winged blackbirds. The sight of that flock at my feeder made my 2010 year! So, yes, I’m a real fan of my bird feeder visitors.
If I don’t recognize a bird I run for my bird books. One of my favorites, especially because the photos are large, is The Birdfeeder Handbook. Every time I see a special bird, I look it up and mark the date and a comment on the corresponding page. My book is well marked since I’ve had it for years!
Not too long ago, I was looking out the window and didn’t see even one of my usually bird visitors; it was quiet too, unlike the peeps and cheeps that signal the birds are active. Well, no wonder! Guess what I spotted on the small fence next to the feeder? A Cooper’s hawk! She swooped in quietly and sat on the fence, still as can be. The only thing moving was her eyes as she scanned the trees and ground nearby, looking for a bite of breakfast! I leaned on the kitchen counter and watched her, fascinated. I’d never been this close (maybe 8 feet) to a hawk on the hunt before! She didn’t move for a few minutes. Then, as if not really believing a bite to eat wasn’t actually hiding from her, she swooped gracefully onto the ground and started to walk around, peeping under the two large boxwoods, pausing, then walking over to the rhodies where she did the same thing! She was methodical. After another couple of minutes patrolling the ground she gave up. She walked over the the sidewalk and after a short hop took off flying for the stand of maple trees in my neighbor’s yard. I didn’t get a photo of her since I was too mesmerized to remember to run for my camera!
Have you seen a hawk on the hunt? Did it catch anything while you were watching? I’m not quite sure how I would have felt if “my” hawk had one of “my” chipmunks or cardinals for breakfast that morning!