Winter Visitors ... 2

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I've written earlier blog mainly about the four-footed visitors to the farmhouse.  This time of year, the opportunities abound to observe the two-footed kind. The bitter cold this year seems to be driving more birds to the feeders.

We've been accommodating them as best as possible by expanding our feeding stations and variety of seed.  Cracked corn and sunflower seeds; bell-seed feeders and plenty of suet in feeding stations around the house. Multiple stations across from the kitchen windows and a more concentrated station outside the library window, in among the bare branches of a very old hydrangea. We've been warmly rewarded with wonderful birds.


Blue Jays are heavy visitors, and a bit aggressive to the other birds. They have been frequent feeders on the suet, their body feathers puffed up against the wind and deep cold we've had over the holidays. Watching them up close, it's interesting to observe them wait their turn for a chance at the suet.


Their strongest rivals for the suet feeders have been a pair of Hairy Woodpeckers that seem to feed at first light, first the male, with his red spot at the back of the head, and then the female, swinging on the suet cage. The Blue Jays gather around them on the branches of the hydrangea tree, but the woodpeckers take little notice. After feeding, they move off to an old branch, tap-tap-tapping a few raps on the dead wood.


Then there are the Black-capped Chickadees, fluttering among the branches, finding the cracked corn and sunflower seeds in the large metal bird feeder nearby, waiting their turn swinging on the suet cage. These black, white and grey balls of feathers are some of the most energetic birds around the feeding station. Their wings flutter at the approach of a Blue Jay, but by mid-afternoon, the Jays have moved on and the chickadees feed unmolested.


Still other birds find their way to the feeders: Mourning Doves clean up the seed that falls from the feeder at the base of the hydrangea; Nuthatches climb head-first down the tree limbs, as juncos visit at first light.


And then there was an amazing sight the other morning.  My wife was on her way to the post office, and as I opened the kitchen door, I saw it -- a male Ring-necked Pheasant, strutting slowly past our cars and heading to a ground-level feeder filled with cracked corn and sun-flower seeds.  This is a beautiful bird, with the long, trailing tail feathers and a bright-white throat band.  It fed for a few minutes, and then sprinted across the snow to the old barn across from the house.  Next morning, I saw it in the dim morning light on the other side of the house, heading across the ice-crusted snowy fields.  We hope he keeps coming back often this winter... as well as our more common feathered friends.

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This page contains a single entry by JeffAdminist published on July 8, 2009 5:45 PM.

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