News from the Bird House

Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal dropped by today to say hi – and grab a quick snack at my bird feeder. Officially part of the Grosbeak family – named such for their large beaks (Gross Beak – get it!) – they look amazing silhouetted against the literally tons of snow in my back yard.

It’s been a long hard winter here in Canada – and while we should really be used to this – it does happen every year people – somehow as I get older, winter seems to get longer and longer.

But today – sitting as I am in my warm house admiring the glistening white snow and startling red birds at my feeder – it’s a tad hard to work up to a good complaint.

Ok – minus anything on a thermometer is probably not wonderful for outdoor activities, but when the snow glistens and every animal track is highlighted by it’s shadows – well – its so stunningly beautiful I really can’t imagine wanting to live somewhere else.

Enough about the weather already – I did want to update my loyal readers on the happenings around my bird feeder!

My daughter accuses me of favoring beauty over brains – because I bought a fab squirrel baffle – the first in my long search for squirrel proof that actually works. It’s actually a Raccoon Baffle – and that should immediately tell you that my squirrels are the hard core type. Even though it’s been defeating them for months – they still occasionally get inspired to check it out. The Baffle is a long (about 2.5 foot) empty cylinder that is about 10″ in diameter. In balances on a disk that is screwed tight to the pole that holds the feeders – and hangs down. It is sufficiently large to keep animals from climbing up the outside – and of course there is nothing inside to do or see or eat. So several times a day a brave squirrel will scramble up the pole – peek into the cylinder – then slide down and give me a dirty look. Fortunately for me – and the squirrels – birds aren’t really neat eaters – so there’s plenty of seeds scattered on the ground around the pole – so no one is really going that hungry.

On to the birds – I know – I’m not much of a birder. Ok – actually – I’m a terrible birder. I can see the color (red – cardinal, blue – blue jay), but little brown birds with white chests – they all kinda look the same to me. And that’s using my binoculars. I’m bad.

But I have good friends – and they bought me a book. Kaufman’s Field Guide to Birds of North America. And it has lots of pictures. While what I’d really like is someone to go – look – see that and that and that – that’s how you know that bird is a Nuthatch – at least with the Kaufman, I can flip thru the pictures and say – well – that looks right.

And I’m not so dumb that I don’t know to check if it even comes into my area. Good thing they have maps in the book, eh?

Ok – so birds I have spotted:

1. Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal – who apparently live near by and visit daily
2. The Chickadee extended family – who dip and dive their way in and out constantly
3. The Blue Jays – sometime visitors – and right now notable in their lengthly absence
4. White Breasted Nuthatch. I for sure saw one – looked just like his picture! I think I might have seen a Red Breasted Nuthatch – but I’m not 100% sure.
5. Yellow Throated Vireo – hey – it’s yellow. I’m so happy. Doesn’t look like the brown guys – works for me.
6. Warblers – I’m pretty sure these are what I’ve seen – but this is a huge family – so it’s a safe bet that at least one or two or a dozen have ventured by
7. European Starling – only slightly smaller than the Cardinals – and not nearly as regular a visitor – I’m pretty proud of the fact that I’m sure that the bird I saw was a Starling. (No joking about the huge population of these either – I’m new to the game of ID’ing birds – and a positive ID is a positive ID
8. And Juncos – Dark Eye’d and very pretty.

I have one more observation to share with you – it turns out that the birds are more interested apparently in sunshine than thermometer readings. No matter how cold it is (and we’ve had days in the minus 30 and worse range), if the sun’s out – the birds come. On the grey days – even when it’s much warmer – there are fewer birds.

Ok – that’s it for news from the feeder. I’ll keep everyone posted if I spot something new and different – or if the squirrels defeat the Baffle. I think my daughter is definitely on their side.

Signing off – The Soup Lady

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