Friday, October 17, 2008

Eastern Bluebird vs House Sparrows and Migration Surge

I look outside. There are Eastern Bluebirds in the back yard for the first time in many years. A small flock is flitting amongst the upper branches of the trees then down into the deep shade of the grape arbor, then into the Spruce and back to the arbor.

In a moment three have landed near the wren house with the quadruple sized door chewed wider by squirrels. One Bluebird flies up to the door, peers in, and enters. Then I remember that Bluebirds communally roost in birdhouses and cavities during cold weather, even as they migrate, and these no doubt are checking out the house for possible evening accommodations.
A host of House Sparrows arrive scolding and mobbing the Bluebirds.
Bluebird Two goes for the high ground. He goes to the roof of the house and watches as Bluebird Three flies west with a number of Sparrows chasing her.
The trapped Bluebird flies out and one sparrow follows.
The other two House Sparrows watch them go.

In ten minutes the Bluebirds return to the yard unharried by the sparrows.

Interesting as the sparrows don't use the birdhouse at this time of year, in fact they didn't use it during nesting season, but they seem to be attempting to keep the Bluebirds from using it.

I wonder if the Bluebirds will sneak back into the birdhouse come evening. I make a mental note to check and see.

White-breasted Nuthatch is madly hatching sunflower seeds into every possible bark crevice he can find.
There is another surge of Robins passing through and they've been bathing one right after another.
Female Downy Woodpecker has returned and she too is scrutinizing the bark only she is mining it for insects. Well at least I think she's after insects, perhaps she's snitching Nuthatch's sunflower seeds.
Suddenly this week having arrived with the Juncos, House Finches are applying themselves to the feeders.
And as the sun lowers, the flocks of calling and responding geese pass over.
Back to the terms of venery, this is a curling skein of Canada Geese.
I've not seen Chewy the Chipmunk since the 13th when I discovered him much later than usual still filling his cheeks. Then poof, after days of his constant presence in the feeding area, he was gone. I strongly suspect that with the 30F degree nights that Chewy his retired to his burrow for a nice long rest. Rest that is, with frequent visits to his pantry for intermittant feasting.
Dusk Bunny is out so it's time for me to check the birdhouse for Bluebirds. Trying the flashlight collection, I choose the one with the weak batteries. I want to see if the Bluebirds are there, not blind them. I head across the back yard with my, as it turns out, weaker than I thought flashlight. I can't really see a thing. When the house is about 20 feet away I angle the flashlight up and---what it THAT?? Two eyes gleam at me from the top of the bird house!! I nearly jump out of my skin.
The owner of the eyes seems a little startled too and takes to the air. When the bird gets high enough to be slightly back lit by the night lights in the park I see it's a little Screech Owl. Wow, I wonder how many nights she's been out here. Or is she just passing through and decided to sit on the birdhouse and wait for mice to go for the seed on the patio.
Wow, again. Those eyes were-- surprising.
Oh right, I'm supposed to be looking for Bluebirds. I go closer, angle the flashlight, and look in. Not a one inside. Either the sparrows deterred them or perhaps they weren't fond of the giant sized entrance.
Wait, I check the ground for feathers. Nothing. That's a relief. Not that I've known Screechs to eat Bluebirds but one just never knows in nature does one?
Donegal Browne


Karen Anne said...

I haven't seen the chipmunk at my feeder for several days either.

Donegal Browne said...

Though we are reasonably distant geographically,and being near the water moderates your temperatures, the photoperiod has sent our local chipmunks to their burrows at the same time.