Monday, February 7, 2011

Bird's Eye View

I enjoy feeding the birds.  They sometimes fight for the food, and just as often take their turns. Yesterday, I saw a finch trying against the wind to fly to the bird feeder.  So when she left, I scattered some seed on the porch underneath the feeder. A few of the smaller birds fed on this gift. But what was more amusing was watching the resident squirrel carefully picking up one seed at a time and eating.

Last year I fed suet to the birds in the Vine Maple tree outside my apartment, and seeds in a small feeder hanging in the window.  One day I was stunned when I looked out my window to the tree.  There was a very large bird sitting in the tree looking right at me. It was side-wise to me, and then turned face on. It had a long slightly curved beak, and a very long tail.  I could hear it say "Where is food for me?"  Of course this bird couldn't get its large body into a position to eat from either feeder. And it really needed fish.  I admired the bird, and told it I didn't have a way to feed it. 

Later I discovered it was a juvenile cormorant.  That in itself is unusual - cormorants usually live on the coastal water islands, and I lived miles from the coast.  I identified it as a Double-crested Cormorant, both by its looks and by the fact that it was inland.  This is the only cormorant that nests inland in the West.  Still, it was unusual.  There were no lakes or even ponds nearby, though there were some within flying distance.

This year I have seen some birds I had not seen before: Red Wing Blackbirds and a Varied Thrush.  And a number of old friends come to my feeder: a mating pair of Flickers, a number of Stellar Jays, and lots of finches, sparrows, juncos and chickadees. 

There are some birds I see less often since I moved.  I used to see Turkey Buzzards fairly often.  But they don't come into town, and are less present along the roads I now use.  I suspect they don't find the food the like as easily in a more suburban setting.  I still see hawks and eagles, but not as often.  Where I lived previously I could look out my window and see eagles flying.  There were nests in several places not far from my home.

My next project?  A hummingbird feeder!