Sunday, February 1, 2009


As I commented on Maine Nature News some time ago, we had put out bird feeders shortly after moving to Hearthfire Hill, but they went totally ignored. At first I figured there were lots of weed seeds in the back fields, and indeed we saw may (unidentified) small birds clinging to the side of the growth and flitting about. I had hopes that, once the snow fell, they would move on to the feeders, but it didn't happen.

Eventually the seed all blew out and I did not refill, as it was hard keeping the seed IN and removing the wet, untouched seed in the feeder cups on a regular basis when no one seemed interested. Indeed, we saw and heard almost no birds.

Then, later, I would hear larger ones at a distance, occasionally spotting them from afar....crows mostly.

This put me in mind of how the birds came to our feeder in NC. Originally, there, with trees and houses and -- one would think -- others feeding, we also noted a lack of feathered ones. Then, gradually, I would notice a gull flying high, or sitting on a distant lamp post.

I began feeding the gulls, who soon came to be my regular Sunday congregation, and shortly after that we began to notice other, smaller birds beginning to appear at the feeder... doves and song birds, first a few then by the dozens.

I began to wonder if the crows would serve a similar function here.. if I could attract their attention, if the smaller birds would also eventually come. So, as I reported to MNN, I began throwing out bread crumbs -- when I had them -- for the crows. Eventually I saw one in the area where I threw crumbs and began to do it more regularly. And they began to come more regularly... not like my flock of gulls, but often enough that even without watching I would see one or more in the yard each day.

A few days ago, when I went to the garage to bring in the bulbs I had not gotten planted last fall, I spotted the bag of bird seed and on a whim, grabbed a handful into a container and threw in more or less in the area where I throw bread. It is at the side of the drive, accessible by a hand-toss from the porch or driveway and the closest (currently still empty) feeder is a snowshoe trip around the corner. Only about 12' or so, but in deep snow.

Today as I was washing dishes and K was sitting in the living room, able to see out the front door, he commented on a small bird, then many, that he could see on the ground! I did not get a good look at them, but they were not sparrows (larger, but smaller than a robin), all in grays, black and a bit of white, possibly on their undersides and wings. There was a pretty good size bunch -- maybe 30 -- and the flew away in a definite flock when something startled them before I could grab the camera.

A glance at the bird book makes me guess possibly chickadees -- though not likely as I know these guys pretty well, having had one hop down my leg once, as I lay in the hammock, being part of the universe -- or possibly nuthatches or juncos. When I saw them fly, they seemed to have kind of swept-back wings, like I associate with swifts and swallows... and they were definately eating the seed that was on the ground.

Hopefully they will return and I will be able to photograph or at least identify them.

Tomorrow's chores will include filling the feeders when I go to take out the kitty litter, you can be sure!


oldcrow61 said...

Great to hear that the birds are starting to come around.

Robin said...

Probably dark eyed juncos. Kristin couldn't remember their proper name when she was little. She called them dumpos.