For the last couple of months we’ve had a bird feeder hanging outside the window beside the kitchen table. As we sit eating breakfast and drinking tea we get to watch the variety of birds that visit, up close. With our handy Bird Guide reference we enjoy looking them up to see who is coming to dine.
We’ve learned two things from these observations. First, while two or three birds may visit at the same time, they are almost always of one species. If another species tries to show up they are chased away. The other observation is that different species tend to visit at different times of day, such that the aforementioned conflicts don’t happen very often.
The first species of the morning is the Red-Breasted Nuthatch. Pretty little things that, at a distance, I had confused with chickadees. They have short tails and beaks that appear to be tipped upwards somewhat. When they fly, they swoop up and down. They like to grab a sunflower seed then scoot over to a nearby evergreen tree to eat it. Then they return for another.
After they’ve had their fill, later in the morning we get the Chestnut Backed Chickadee. Coming from the mainland I’m more familiar with the Black-Capped Chickadee. The former have a lovely vest of chestnut-brown, and their small size makes them very cute.
In late afternoon the Oregon Junco’s arrive. I’ve seen them getting chased away by the nuthatches if they show up too early, so not sure if late days are their regular feeding time or if they’ve adapted to stay away from the early-bird nuthatches. They seem big compared to the other two, their long tails can be recognized even when they are on the other side of the feeder. They are bolder than the other species, content to rest on the edge of the deck and forage down below for dropped seeds.
One of my favourite visitors is the Spotted Towhee. These guys usually show up alone, and when no other birds are around. I first saw one last spring while walking along a nearby trail, and was thrilled with their wing spots and pretty brown sides. They are easily frightened away, so I sit very still when one comes to visit.
Just today I saw a new visitor, around lunchtime. I had to search through my book to identify it, and was pleased to find an answer. With it’s strongly streaked chest and yellowish wing markings, I was able to determine it was a Pine Siskin. It’s not exactly a rare bird, but being new to this birdwatching thing it was a “new to me” bird, and just as exciting as any rare find by a seasoned birder!
We’re looking forward to continuing our birding education through the spring and into summer and fall. Hopefully we’ll meet some new friends along the way. In the meantime, we’re definitely getting our money’s worth out of the birdseed!