I’m an admitted Orinthophile…. I’m active in my obsession.. constantly looking up , finding new species that I’ve never seen before, or have seen but didn’t realize what it was…. This affliction (I personally don’t consider it an affliction but some do) hit me long ago, as a child. I didn’t truly begin feeding the addiction until I’d traveled the world and “settled down” then with a telephoto lens I’d go birding… or twitching as they call it in the UK…. I’d set up feeders and blinds… I’d go through lots of 35mm film and freak out if I didn’t have an extra roll at all times… the “hobby” waned for a few years while raising kids and horses and dogs…. But it was always there…. I’d be out on a ride and see a red tail hawk doing lazy circles in the sky,
or a bald eagle soaring on the thermals, turkey vultures circling in on a dead deer in the woods… from the giant raptors to the smallest chickadee or hummingbirds I’m fascinated by, and love birds… maybe it’s a natural thing that started with Icarus… I believe the Wright brothers had it….. Da Vinci had it ….Audubon for sure had it 😉 …. I know a lot of fellow avian enthusiasts, even an Ornithologist or three… I’ve given up wondering, why I like them so much, and just enjoy them and help them when I am presented with the opportunity. I’ve learned a lot about different species and about birds in general, but I’m no expert! I couldn’t name all their anatomical parts or even their latin names… I don’t have the bandwidth or storage space in my brain to hold that information anymore… maybe when I’m older and need to exercise the grey matter more I’ll put that on my list of to do’s but until then I will just observer and enjoy and identify….. my latest part of birding is watching the natural pecking order of species in my yard this fall and through the winter… I’ll be watching come spring and next summer as well… .for now here’s a typical Autumn day in the yard:
Dawn is about to break , the sky is gradually becoming brighter, the darkness slowly receding… I hear the chirp chirp twitter and then the hmmmmmmm that is the Anna’s Hummingbird close by ready for her first sip of nectar after a night of slowing her metabolism down to rest.
She’s the first one at the feeder every morning, than it’s her mates turn, he tries to sneak in early but gets chased off until she is good and ready to share….once she’s had her fill he flits back in and drinks deeply the sweet water…while he is drinking the sun peeks above the horizon the first true rays start to shine through the trees. Steam rises from wherever they touch evaporating the heavy dew. The Junco’s come in to the feeders next , quickly to be chased away by the chattering and feisty Chestnut backed and Mountain Chickadees…. The chickadees grab their fill and the Juncos return with a few sparrows in tow to get the seeds on the ground…. Nuthatches fly in and walk upside down on the feeder to the openings and grab the best of the seeds and nuts one at a time and fly back to their feeding tree to enjoy the protein of their breakfast. Next up – Towhee time…. They are slightly larger birds and will hit the feeders to scatter seeds on the ground and then hop down and enjoy them while they can…the Junco’s and sparrows come back and are tolerated as long as they keep their distance…. After Momma Hummingbird has had her first fill up of the day, she also tolerates the other birds while she comes and goes along with her mate and offspring to grab sips throughout the day…the rotation of Juncos, Chickadees, Nuthatches on the feeders continue throughout the day. When it’s not their turn at the feeders the Juncos will wait on the rooftops on the edge of the gutters, tapping impatiently , letting the Chickadees know that their time is nearly up.
A loud SQWAK CAW CAW CCCCAW and a Stellar Jay comes in – Everyone flees the scene like it’s a major drug bust by the Feds… the bird is gorgeous but raucous ….. with it’s blue body and black head with a large crest it is easy to see how it could be the “fuzz” ..it helps itself to its fill and leaves as loudly as it arrived….
Things return to normalcy in the yard…. Hummers, juncos, sparrows, nuthatches, chickadees…. Another interruption – this time a Northern Flicker arrives… but most of the sparrows and juncos remain.. .the flicker does just that…. Hangs on the feeder and flicks away the things it doesn’t feel like and picks out his favorites….
The scattering seeds are gathered by the towhees and sparrows nothing is wasted…. It’s now time though for the Finch/Siskin invasion to begin! Nearing noon the American Goldfinches and Pine Siskins swarm the tube feeder, the ground, the hopper feeder…..there are probably 50 birds seeds flying , squabbles breaking out inter and intra-species ..the Juncos are up on the gutters tapping their beaks on the metal like an old roman coliseum they are there for the show!
The hummers fly in and out of the traffic of the finches and siskins to snag sips eventually something spooks the flock and off they go to the trees to chat up a storm and the cycle continues…. Nature is fascinating in it’s organization, even when it is intervened upon by my bird feeders…it is sorted out, shared in a specific way that they all instinctively know…. All co-existing and knowing their role, their place….. I haven’t seen any predation at my feeders this year surprisingly.. I used to have the occasional Coopers Hawk or Sharp-shin visit and grab a meal but not this year… I suspect the construction around , the so called “progress” or sprawl is destroying their habitat…. We’ll be moving soon back out to the deep woods/Mountains AKA – BFE … where some of the songbirds will become snacks for the raptors…some of the squirrels will be lunch for the hawks….but, until then I’ll just continue to watch and learn from the non-predatory birds – some reminders for me: know when it’s my turn, know when it’s time to let someone else go ahead, stand up to my peers when needed and occasionally even fight for what is mine…..and sometimes fly away as fast as possible in a zig zag fashion to avoid the hot pursuit of someone I’ve offended!
I have an album of bird photos on Facebook that is public for photos only my wife or I have taken of different species of birds if you’d like to see more photos click here: