Friendly birds

Recently I have been spending considerable time dickering around outside in my carport. The weather being warm and a roof over my head makes it a rain or shine possibility. Such being so, and its close proximity to the road, it also encourages those who are passing by in the area to drop in to say hi or, because of my proposed move, goodbye and, too, to generally chat about this or that with nothing in general more than passing a pleasant time of day.

Because of my recent frequency, early morn, mid-day and late evening, I also get to watch the number and timing of the birds that visit my feeder. Having a self-provisioned suet feeder dangling only inches above my head while I work, has definitely been an asset as I get to watch the chickadee, nuthatch, both red- and white-breasted, and both downy and hairy woodpeckers.

They are obviously feeding their young at this time of year so their visits are long, deliberate and quite often.

To encourage the cardinals and the blue jays a little closer, I usually throw a handful of peanuts and sunflower seeds on the workbench beside me. They usually make a couple of flighty attempts and then, realizing that I make no threat, they drop their hesitation and come again and again.

On one recent occasion, as I chatted with a longtime friend on the topic of ducklings, their care and feeding, a young blue jay lit on my arm as I leaned on the carport upright. I think she was a little surprised that they would do just that, but birds, for some unknown reason, seem to sense that there is no need to fear me. This has been long apparent, even when I was still a young child.

Later that same week, a pair of downy woodpeckers were visiting the suet often – first one then the other, and then all of a sudden they both showed up, and as one pounded away on the suet block, the other, having picked up several crumbs that were falling on the workbench, flipped bums up and hung from the peak of my visor. As his bright, beady eyes scrutinized me, I, almost cross-eyed from trying to focus at such a close range, scrutinized him in his topsy-turvy position.

Often, when I dig in the garden, I am accompanied by Eberhart, Lucy and Lacy, my free range trio of rare gold lace cochins, but it is not unusual for a robin to appear out of seemingly nowhere and snatch a big, juicy worm at the turn of my shovel before the bantams have a chance.

The mourning doves that have nested each year in the hidden thick cover of our blue spruce’s branches are back again and have fledged their second hatch of twins, and are now, once again, in the same nest, incubating their third clutch of two cream-coloured eggs.

Their incubation period is 18 days, and their young usually fledge, fully grown, at the tender age of only two weeks.

Amazing, isn’t it? They feed heavily on the newly sprouted seeds that have escaped from the tray of our feeder. I am going to miss their mournful coo as they perch on the roof-peak of our shed each morning.

Such is life in the competitive world of birds.

Take care, ‘cause we care.



Barrie Hopkins