We arrived here Saturday around noon. Once we had unpacked and gotten the home fires burning Christopher went out to fill the bird feeders. Within minutes there were chickadees at the platform feeder. They are always the boldest and therefore the first. But shortly after they were joined by sparrows, finches and house finches and later blue jays. It always takes a little longer for the juvenile finches to gather at the nyjer seed feeder Alex gave us for Christmas a few years ago.
|Juvenile finches at the nyjer feeder. At this age both sexes are an olive green.|
|And other juvenile finches feeding on the spillover from the feeder above|
|Trying the new gear in front of the bird feeder|
Simply put birds congregate in groups, eat - fatty foods if possible, fluff up their feathers at rest and hope for a cosy small cavity in which to overnight.
Notwithstanding selfish seniors, it is still true that birds of a feather really do flock together.
Generally there is safety in numbers - more eyes to be on the lookout for predators and better chances of finding the richest food sources. For wild birds eating at feeders the fattiest foods are best; black sunflower seeds, suet, peanuts. Even though squirrels are not predators birds give them a wide berth. When a red squirrel parks itself at our feeder some birds keep a vigilant eye from the safety of a nearby tree while others take the chance and eat the spilled seed on the ground below the feeder.
|The red squirrel eyes the feeder from a nearby willow|
|Once the squirrel is nestled into the feeder the bolder birds gather below to eat spilled seed|
|Spots of yellow indicate an oriole and finch eyeing the feeder wistfully|
|Finches at rest all puffed up while they "feather fluff"|
|Downy woodpecker at the suet feeder|
|A blue jay preparing for a landing|
|Blue Jays also sample the suet while an oriole looks on|
And finally, a roosting cavity just slightly larger than themselves helps the bird warm the surrounding air overnight. Other birds crowd together in a roosting cavity to share body heat. And others still can enter into a torpor-like state by lowering their metabolism to conserve energy and require less heat.
From year to year we have some loyal visitors like the mourning doves, chickadees and juncoes. Other birds are more discriminating I guess - trying us out but never to return for a second visit. This is the case with orioles - stunning citrus yellow birds bigger and brighter than the yellow and olive juvenile finches.
|Orioles gather to eat seeds on the ground on Jan. 1, 2013|