Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Yard Birds October 21st

Yesterday morning, my husband called to me from his home office asking if I ordered a "shepherd's hook" from Amazon. Of course I had. It's a tall metal pole for holding a bird feeder. 

He just got a text that it had been delivered!

Huh...I thought I had ordered it through my own account (I had, in fact, but the Internet knows all), but how nice of them to let me know. I went to the front door in anticipation of setting it up in my yard right away, only to find no package at all had been delivered. Not again, I thought. We have the misfortune of living on a street with the same first two letters as the street parallel and a block north of us. Packages are frequently misdelivered.

Maybe it's due to the horrors of students who were taught to read using sight words instead of phonics.  Or maybe it's just a momentary lapse on the part of the letter carrier. Or maybe she just doesn't care anymore. My package was not delivered to my home, nor to my northern neighbor.  As evening approached, I searched the USPS customer service page, but it was no use.  My package was declared "delivered" and I was out of luck.

As I was about to type a note of complaint, the doorbell rang, and there stood a man with a tall cardboard box. He lives 5 blocks away on a street with an altogether different set of letters making up the word, but the same house number. It was super-nice of him to do the gov't's job!  

I set up the shepherd's hook just beyond the dog's reach and made an old planter saucer into a hanging dish-feeder. I filled it with wild bird seed. For some reason, wild bird seed comes with candied papayas. The ants love candied papayas, and climbed 5 feet up and one foot down the hook to enjoy the sweet treat. I look forward to woodpeckers eating the ants.

No feeder visitors came by last night.  Not one.

This morning, ever hopeful, I poured my coffee and sat outside with my camera. There were birds everywhere, thanks to my neighbor's dying cherry tree. He took down a blue spruce in perfect shape, removing the breeding spot for several generations of crows. He took down a row of arborvitae I-know-not-why. He has threatened to take down a smaller tree behind the garage.  But this leviathan cherry, with dead branches and hollow trunk, just waves violently in the lightest breeze waiting for the gust that tears the branches off, and for gravity to do her worst, right over my yard. But I can't really complain, since the tree provides constant shelter for my friends the birds.

Today, I saw a towhee in my yard (technically, in his tree which extends over my yard) for the first time!  As you can see, I got a photo for ID, but it's not beautiful.


And a pair of unidentified birds played way up in the branches, refusing to turn for proper identification. Any guesses?
Unidentified birds in classic Audubon pose.

A house finch stood out red against the blue sky.  He was having a great day!

House finch.

He likes the high branches, where the wind whips his feathers.

A medium sized hawk--possible red-shoulder from the looks and cry--swooped onto the branch, but my little friend spied him early and fled. A bit later the hawk swirled away, to the south.  Sorry, no photo. He's one that got away.

But some other interesting birds were visiting. I looked at a bird in the hedge, and saw a pine siskin! It's the first I have seen in the yard. It had not come for the seeds I put out, but for the tiny conifer seeds in the hedge. I took a few photos. Imagine my surprise when I opened the photo in Picasa and saw that there were 6 birds in the photo! Can you see them all? Did I miss any?

So many siskins.

The birds are pretty well camouflaged, but Amigo, the cat next door, is not. His white fur shines brightly in the morning sun.


Whiskers, the cat next door on the other side, is a bit harder to see in the shadows.


Both would like to nab a bird, but the birds are well guarded by Circe. Not that Circe has not nabbed a bird in her day, but she'd rather have cat.

"Mmmm.  Kitty-kitty," says Circe.

Finally, a visitor landed on the new feeder.  This song sparrow is brave and patient, and not afraid of Circe at all.

Song sparrow.

Still looking up in case the hawk came back, I saw a flock (well, three) of something go over.  A closer look through binoculars showed them to be greater cormorants. That was nifty.


And though it was only 65 degrees out, a few honeybees were sucking the last of the autumn nectar. Despite the cold, they were faster than my camera, and I only got a good shot of a foot and wingtip as it explored the morning glory.

Morning glory food for bee.
Meanwhile, the rubbish men came by, some workmen tore out part of our sidewalk, old Greta-two-doors-down yelled at her daughter-in-law in Deutschlish, someone rang our doorbell, sprinkler men came to fix the neighbor's sprinklers, landscapers mowed, leaf blowers moved the leaves around, the fire siren went off, and, in the distance, a chainsaw made short work of a tree. I had coffee and birds, and was almost oblivious.

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