Monday, December 03, 2007

New Additions

(Sorry about the screen, this window was the only spot where I could catch the action. Besides the screen I had to kneel on the kitchen sink so we're both suffering a little for the view.)
The squirrels discovered the Squirrely Gig. And being squirrels, big on food and high on opportunity, they've nearly stripped it of corn. The wheel is so stiff that it's no challenge at all for them. The spokes stay in one place, while the squirrels scoot along them, remove a cob of corn, hop to the ground with it, and chow down.
A little idiosyncrasy of squirrels is that they only eat the heart out of the corn and leave the rest. I'm assuming that the the crow that's heading for squirrel sitting in a pile of heart-less corn doesn't mind the subtraction at all.
Not the second squirrel to the right at the base of the tree. The Crow is in a squirrel sandwich though I'm not sure he realizes it yet.

Crow makes a sharp left.

And true to Crow reconnoitering, he takes a few steps and then starts the curve of a circle. Crows, being opportunistic like squirrels but also extremely suspicious almost invariably circle a possible food and check it out.
Squirrel doesn't seem the least bit intimidated but he does keep snatching looks at the Crow and his whereabouts. The second squirrel comes leaping across the yard toward the cylinder feeder and the crow veers away from completing his circle towards the corn.
Suddenly he's very interested in something near the pole feeder. He leans forward then leaps back, starts a small circle, leans forward, leaps back. By this time I've changed from the window to the glass door. Big mistake, he sees me, starts screaming, and two other Crows I'd not noticed in the trees, pick up the call and all three fly away towards the park. Every beastie in sight takes cover.

As the eight squirrels, that's right eight squirrels have returned and are monopolizing the feeders near the house, one of the Mourning Doves is eating the seed knocked off the bird seed plants by the storm.
We're barely over 20 degrees today. Take a look at the thick many feathered layers that protect the doves' belly, keeping her core body heat from escaping into the snow and cold air. Another wonder of bird feet that can tromp around in this weather and not have the toes fall off, is the direct pipeline of arterial blood that comes directly from their warm core to the naked feet to keep them from freezing. I've seen Pale Male in snowstorms, perched on a branch, feet covered with snow, looking perfectly comfy.

The other new addition is the warmer for the birdbath. I put it into the bath hours ago and no one as yet has stopped in for a drink. It's that snake looking thing that is coming out of the water. It's new and a scary shape so we'll see how long it takes before someone gets thirsty enough to try it.
A dove flies to within a foot of the bath, WAAAAH, veers off, does an immediate second fly-by, has the same reaction. No takers yet.

It's cold so Doorstep Dove is back on the doorstep hunkered down, assumedly absorbing some warmth escaping from the house as she did last winter. She still pecks and eats the seed around her though. Friend sticks with one activity at a time

One of the kids appears, sees me, looks startled and the reaction startles Doorstep, who usually doesn't mind if I photograph her through the door.

Hey! It's the first bird to actually perch on the bath since the warmer went in. She is looking askance though.

House Finch is still checking out the "snake" and has yet to put her head down for a drink. While this Junco flies in, drinks deeply, and is gone.
The Junco on the other hand, lands, sees the cable and eeek! The feathers on the top of her head stand straight up. She freezes, watches, decides it's alright, and has a drink.
It's getting dark so the late birds are busy getting those last morsels before roosting. A late arriving Dove has decided to get serious about dinner herself. Something flushes them and the dove heads straight for one of the Maples.

Then I see why.

At least four of her relatives are already up there watching the sunset. Or are they thirsty and watching the birdbath instead? When it is almost completely dark, a Mourning Dove, I'm assuming it's Doorstep, flies down to the birdbath. She sits toward the right side, has a drink, and then stays. In a moment a second Dove, seeing she hasn't come to a bad end, comes down to the bowl to drink as well.
By tomorrow all the birds will have gotten over their fear of the "snake in the bath" and no one will go thirsty.
Donegal Browne


Karen Anne said...

What's the heart of the corn?

After reading your post about frozen birdbaths the other day, I happened to look out my window and saw a bird drinking, I thought, from one of mine. Later I went out and saw, no, the water was frozen solid. So, neighbor's koi pond to the contrary, I padded out there with warm water.

I've started putting bird seed out the last few days as it's been freezing overnight, and yesterday morning there were four relatively harmonious blue jays, a cardinal, and a little brown bird on the deck in the feeding area.

One year I put dried ears of corn on the door as an autumn decoration, only to find them half eaten the next day. So I bought some from the hardware store's bird seed section and left them on the deck. Were they eaten? Noooo.

Donegal Browne said...

The heart of the corn is the portion down near the tip of the kernel.

As to your decoration with corn, it sounds like your birds are like my parrot. Eating something that isn't meant for you, always tastes ever so much better.

Though with your freezing temperatures, some of the birds are probably very thankful to find your feeding area.

Ah, you're now padding out to the frozen bath too. See how guilt spreads. :-)