Friday, March 17, 2017

Immigration Chaos by Betsy Ashton

Whites, browns, yellows, blacks
Screeching, shoving—
Gang warfare @ the bird feeder

It's that time of year again. My bird feeder is collapsing under the weight of all the birds migrating north and immigrating to summer ranges where I live.

Who knew the mixed flocks could eat through ten pounds of seed every day? And more, if I filled a second feeder, but I don't. One is enough right now. One is all my kitty can monitor. No, she doesn't eat birds, but they keep her mesmerized for hours, both when she's inside on her perch and outside on the deck under the feeder.

Who knew cardinals could be so grumpy early in the morning? Bright red and looking miserable with hunched shoulderc, the male glared at me this morning. He was sitting next to the feeder, which he and the missus had drained of food. He was not amused until I refilled, and he had his turn to get a bellyful.

Who knew the mixed flocks would arrive so early? I didn't. Is this a sign of global warming, or the result of a shared message on the bird underground—plenty of food at the log house in the woods by the big lake?  Could be either. 

Who knew smaller woodpeckers and nuthatches actually come to bird feeders? I've seen plenty of nuthatches over the years, but the small woodpeckers were a welcome addition. At least I welcomed them. Not too sure about the grumpy cardinal.

Who knew titmice (titmouses??) were bullies? I always thought the blue jays were the bullies, but they aren't here yet. I've watched titmice dive bomb the kitty when she was peacefully minding her business on the lower deck under the feeder. I've watched them beat the Carolina chickadees away, so that they had to snatch a beakful and head for a branch. No sitting on the feeder perch and eating his fill for the saucy male chickadee.

Thank goodness the pileated woodpeckers wait until the carpenter bees drill holes in our house. Then, they rat-a-tat their way into the nest. The bees leave perfectly round holes; the woodpeckers leave ugly gouges. This week has been too cold for the carpenter bees. Glad the woodpeckers have been hammering on trees further down the block. What a wonderful wake up call at dawn.

Who knew how much fun it could be watching the warring birds beat each other nearly silly over a beakful of seed? 

I'm so glad squirrels don't have prehensile tails, of the grumpy cardinal would be even grumpier.


Betsy Ashton is the author of Mad Max Unintended Consequences and Uncharted Territory, A Mad Max Mystery. She has a new short story in 50 Shades of Cabernet. Her works have appeared in several anthologies and on NPR.


Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

I resemble the cardinal, although not quite as grumpy, until I've had my morning coffee. Thanks for a tour around your birdfeeder, Betsy.

Diane Burton said...

What fun you (and your cat) must have watching the invasion. Like Vonnie, I'm grumpy without my coffee. I try not to jump down Hubs' throat when he's so cheery in the morning.

Jannine Gallant said...

We won't have birds for a while. They'd have 6 feet of snow on the sunny side of the house to peck through! Your immigration chaos sounds delightful.

Rolynn Anderson said...

You're right, Betsy, birds are a cantankerous bunch...every single species. (My bird feeders are out my writing window) At my bird bar, I serve only sunflower seeds, a treat for the birds and the rabbits (who get leftovers on the ground along with the quail, titmouse, the towhee, Oregon junco, and sparrow). Here in CA, we have most species all year long. Unusual (and maybe migratory?) are the thrasher, thrush and warbler. Finches of all colors make up my majority, with scrub jays monitoring all. The red-tailed hawk is God in my yard. It's quiet out there right now, which means the red-tail hovers. Thanks for the post!

Leah St. James said...

What a fun post! I don't have windows on the side of my house, only the front and back, and no feeders. I might have to consider springing for one, to give Hercules the Cat (kitten no more) something a bit more interesting to keep his attention!

Alicia Dean said...

Ha, fun and fascinating! I never knew birds had such distinct personalities. Lovely pics!

Brenda Whiteside said...

I love my bird feeder. Actually, I love the birds who use my birdfeeder. FDW minds the hummingbird feeders. They are the feisty ones. If he lets them go dry, they dive bomb him when he walks outside. They know who fills them. So funny.