Saturday, January 2, 2016

Feeding Birds

I really only have one person for whom to buy Christmas gifts. She basically takes care of the gift-buying for all others (with my occasional input, of course). I have to badger her to find out what she wants for Christmas, because for the first couple of months I begin badgering, she says, "I don't want you to get anything." Yeah, right. Truth is I WANT to get her gifts, and I really want her to be happy–maybe even surprised! This is a great challenge for me. If it were just one main gift, that would be hard enough. But of course I need to get a card, and there's all the little stocking stuff (that's the hardest of all for me)! And I also need to find little fun less expensive gifts.

This Christmas, I did pretty well and I feel really good about myself! In the "little fun less expensive gifts" category, I got a couple of vintage-looking, mason-jar-like bird feeders (and a bag of birdseed) to hang on our hummingbird feeder hooks.

Darla loves watching and feeding the hummingbirds, but they're only around during the warm months. I thought she'd also get a kick out of watching different kinds of birds in the winter. I even got her a Backyard Birding magazine! The gift was a hit! My immediate worry, however, was: will any birds come use the feeders? Turns out, they LOVE it. I am watching them have a feeding frenzy right now as I type. I'm also enjoying learning about what all these little guys are. Here are the ones that have been on the feeders just the last 30 minutes this morning:

• Carolina Chickadee (shown here)

• Red House Finch (shown here)

• Tufted Titmouse (shown above on the deck rail, and below on the feeder)

• Carolina Wren

• Red-bellied Woodpecker

• Northern Cardinal

• House Sparrow

Until just now (when I looked them up) I didn't know the first four of those seven species existed! Birds (of the non-huntable variety) have never been an interest of mine. I guess now I'm officially an old geezer. Truth is, we should never stop discovering and learning more about God's creation. It gives us more motivation and opportunity to praise him and be in awe of his wisdom.

Of course these pictures are not very good.

I'll try to add some better ones later.

Today I was able to identify some new birds:

• Pine Warbler (a yellowish bird that is now a dominant fixture at the feeders, picture below)

• A grey bird with a white underside and a black mohawk (I think it is a White-breasted Nuthatch).

• Dark-eyed Junco (a little round dark grey bird with a white underside)

I didn't have a clue about any of those last three until looking them up. Ok, I'll admit it. I'm officially an old man now. I kinda like bird-watching.

Update (1/6/2016):
I was inside studying today while lots of bird activity was going on at the feeders. Suddenly out of the corner of my eye I saw a shadow and heard a loud thump outside. I got up thinking one of the birds had hit the window. But on the deck with a Pine Warbler in his talons was a Broad-winged hawk! I grabbed my phone and snapped this picture before he flew off with his prize into the woods for a mid-day snack.

I've got to say, it was pretty cool to watch. Yeah, there was a little regret deep down that we had created a cafeteria that provided easy-picking for the hawk, but that's nature. Hey, hawks need to eat too!

Update (1-9-2016)
Just saw a Downey Woodpecker on the feeder.

Update (1-20-2016)
We had a couple of Rufous-sided Towhees and a big Dove visit the feeder today and stay a while. The Dove stubbornly gorged out on seeds ignoring all the attempts of the other birds to spook him away.

Here's a picture:

You can see a female Cardinal and a House Sparrow waiting in line for the hungry dove to finish. As you can see, today we have snow, which has only made the feeders more popular.

That's fourteen different species of birds (most of them new to me) that have come to the feeders in less than a month. That's pretty cool. Watching them reveals to me God's creativity on display in the beauty, diversity, and harmony of these different species.

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