Sunday, February 17, 2008

REPORT FROM THE BENCH and A Frenzy of Wildlife Feeding

Lola Preens on the Woody Building
Hawkwatcher Ludie Stern reports that Pale Male and Lola copulated lustily on the NW corner of the Linda Building at 7:42, this morning. She also reports that Lola went to the nest and did a little home decorating by rearranging some twigs on the nest as well.

Photograph by Donna Browne

The forecast was for the possibility of a new foot and a half of snow. Evidentally the wildlife had been listening because there was an absolute frenzy of feeding today. Therefore a great time to look at feeding behavior.

Frosty the Squirrel does the big stretch--

Photograph: D.Browne
Her Chubbiness then scrambles back up to a sitting postion to munch the heart of the corn kernel, drop the rest, and then go for another.

D. Browne
The feeding area is crowded with local male Juncos and Mourning Doves. There are no displays of any kind to disrupt feeding, neither aggression or crowding. The business at hand is too important.

D. Browne
See the bird sized blobs? Beyond the birds in the feeding area, the back row of trees are filled with a new flock of male Juncos. There seem to be hundreds of them. Racing before the storm?

D. Browne
A few come down to the feeder farthest from the house and reconnoiter.

D. Browne
Suddenly all but one of the local Juncos take off for the Spruce, excepting the one in the far up- left corner who seems to have found something un-leave-able.
Here is an example of intra-flock and inter-flock avian behavior. Birds are always monitoring what the other birds are eating. Perhaps it's better than what they're eating. And part of the definition of better for many birds, in the first place, is that someone else is eating it.
Note the Dove, right center, who is watching the other Dove.

D. Browne
But this is my favorite, we have a grand view of the Junco's bottom as he leans to his full extension to eat something. The Dove is very interested and leans in as well. She's the picture of curiousity. Look at her face.
D. Browne
Rain turns to sleet and freezes this dove's chest feathers stiff. She still feeds though there is a crystal right on the rim of her eye. The sleet on her back gradually melts and turns into perfectly round droplets which eventually rolls off.

Photograph by Marian Anderson
Over at Marian Anderson's a male Cardinal appears, stands in the Lilac Bush, cocks his head at the ground, and spies a morsel.

Photograph by Marian Anderson
He flits down, grabs the corn, and he's off in a flash to a tree to eat it.

Photograph by Marian Anderson
The usual Junco feeding technique is to ground feed in place. When there is some kind of possible threat they fly in a flock to a tree or bush. According to Marian's report this little fellow flies to a sunflower seed, retrieves it, and then takes it into the sheltered area under the bird bath to eat it whether the others fly off or not.
Photograph by Marian Anderson
This White-breasted Nuthatch is eating at the "favorite" feeder in this yard. Why is it the favorite? Is it the shape with it's little roof that adds shelter? Or is it because it hangs very close to an outbuilding?
Donegal Browne

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