Saturday, December 01, 2007

Foraging in a Snowstorm

The weatherman turned out to be right. There was at least four inches of snow on the ground this morning and it was still coming down and swirling until visibility was nil. Some birds look as if foraging in snow is a challenge but in the case of this Dark-eyed Junco he doesn't look the least bit troubled about the whole thing. In fact you can't even tell if he's dark eyed because he's standing on a mini-drift catching a short nap waiting until the squirrels move off the feeding area..

I swing the camera over toward the feeder and at first I can't even decide what I'm seeing. Ah, it's a squirrel torso with feet buried in snow. Now just what could he be doing? Not really a big surprise.

Chin ups maybe? Look at that innocent face as he strives to get his exercise. The other day I realized that the six resident squirrels just weren't very big on sharing. And to add insult to injury every other squirrel in the area is hold up in their nests having a semi-hibernation until the weather turns. Not my guys.

The Juncos have decided to head for the garden and feast on basil seeds. I particularly like the guy down left scrutinizing the snow for seed while attempting to pull his foot out of the snow.

And another position.

After nabbing a seed, he's back to the ground keeping an eye peeled for competition.

His brother is taking another approach, and is quite encrusted with snow.

It's the burrowing tactic.

The squirrel has moved on and the small birds move in. Who's the new guy on the feeder stand?

So that's where squirrel went. He must have smelled the peanut under the snow and to keep his relatives from getting it, he's climbed up the wire and made himself king of the mountain.

Oh, there's the new guy. It's a perky Tree Sparrow, the first of the winter. Why is the top of their beaks black and the bottom yellow? Something to do with Tree Sparrow allure? Who's that on the other side?

He moves round and it's the pox toed male House Finch. Still looking good and functioning well despite the poxy toe.

There's a sharp noise from the neighbor's yard and he pushes off the perch and into the air in no time at all.

Tree Sparrow looks around but he's not worried and just keeps chewing. The back of a Tree Sparrow has such a luscious pattern of colors and form

When he turns his head, it almost looks like the gray feathers on his head are of a different texture than the rufous ones. Check out those white tipped secondaries.

And better yet, check out those long sharp toenails. This bird hasn't been walking on many sidewalks.
As I said I'd noticed that the squirrels hadn't been sharing, but I'd also said, I wasn't going to run myself crazy about squirrels. When I was at the store the other day, I noticed a product called the Squirrely Gig. Supposedly a fun and entertaining device that poses a problem to be solved by squirrels. It gives them something to think about besides sunflower seeds. They can try to get the CORN!

I myself being somewhat mystified by the many bits required for set up and as it turns out exacerbated by missing hardware, Paul Anderson, husband of Marian my hawking buddie, decides he'll install it for me. Out into the sleet he goes and gets big points with me---I hope also from the squirrels who will soon have their "fun and entertaining" corn device and I know there will be big points from the birds who may not have to wait so long to get to the feeders.
By the time I realize I haven't taken a photo of the installed fun and entertaining corn twirler and need I say possibly squirrel twirler, it is dark, and sleeting ice on the snow and branches outside. Oh well I'll just go out on the step under the eaves and take a quick shot. I look out toward the picnic table once again to check for Fluffy the possum. I haven't seen Fluffy for ages I wonder how he's doing. I whip open the door and start to put my foot down. Whoa, there's something moving on the step! That's startling, I jerk back my foot and Fluffy who is taking off as fast as a possum can, toward the Spruce trees, is as startled as it am. Geez, I almost stomped Fluffy. Fluffy might have just jerked round and nabbed me in the ankle with all fifty of his sharp teeth.
You just never know do you Fluffy? All you were trying to do was shelter from the frozen rain under the eaves and eat some bird seed and all I wanted to do was take a picture. Sometimes no matter what you do, just living can cause problems.

The need for a Squirrely Gig is just one of many cases in point.
Donegal Browne

1 comment:

Jenn said...


I was just looking at the squirrel photos, the one of just the squirrel's body without a head and noticed on the bottom half a bulge with a pink spot at the top. Would I be looking at a male squirrel?