Monday, November 06, 2006

Feeder Watching

I'm still moving kind of slowly--certainly slower than I expected--several days after hurting my knee. So naturally, this was a beautiful weekend that would have been a great one to do some hiking.

Instead, I rested the knee, hoping it would speed healing. I can't say that I've found that to be true, at least not so far.

Still, I did find some enjoyment moving at a slower pace. One was that I took some time to simply sit by the window and watch the birds that visited my feeder. Typically, I see the feeder visitors in brief spurts as I'm rushing between here and there. Sometimes I don't even see them; I just know what's there by their calls.

But slowed down at the moment as I am, I got to spend some time watching them, which I found both fun and relaxing. This little chickadee looks as though it's at a buffet line and trying to decide what to eat. I also saw the first white-throated sparrows of the season this weekend. My regular visitors to the feeder now include titmice, nuthatch, red-bellied woodpecker, downy woodpecker, Carolina wren, cardinals, blue jays. Neither the few juncos nor the sparrows have yet taken up residence at the feeder--not cold enough for them yet.

Being able to watch the birds, as opposed to just seeing them, allowed me to see more interaction than I normally do. The white-breasted nuthatches are kind of bossy birds, not above thrusting their bills in the direction of other smaller birds who are attempting to eat at the same time as the nuthatch. Titmice choose their seeds carefully, then retreat to another spot nearby to eat it. Chickadees and cardinals will often eat while in the feeder. The red-bellied woodpecker is a spooky and cautious bird, often taking minutes to work its way into the feeder, where it will sort through multiple seeds until it finds the nut it wants. Cardinals are shy and most often feed in the early morning and late evening when it is almost dark. Blue jays only show up when the peanuts are in the feeder. They roar into a feeder at full speed.
Each species has its own distinct behavioral characteristics and "birdsonality," if you will. Taking the time to watch them on weekends is something I should do more often, even when I'm not slowed by a bad knee.

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