Sunday, March 07, 2021

I am a Lazy Bird Watcher


We keep a frequently stocked bird feeder (and a less frequently stocked suet cage) in a crepe myrtle out front of the house. I enjoy watching the birds come to feed when I'm sitting on the front porch for a smoke or because I've taken the dogs out to do their business, but am somewhat lazy about identifying them. I have a phone app that's supposed to help with that (snap a picture and it runs through a database), but haven't bothered to use it.

We have at a couple of mating pairs of cardinals who stop by several times a day, as well as a single bird that I think is a male cardinal (it looks like one but is more brown/gray -- older and mateless, perhaps?) who also visits frequently.

Also a pair of pigeons who come by at least daily and feed on the seed that's been spilled from the feeder. And some mockingbirds. And a hairy (I think, it might be downy) woodpecker who investigated the feeder once, but now shows up every day or two and makes a little noise on the tree before moving on.

And hundreds of smaller birds of various types that I haven't identified yet. At any time of day, there are usually 10-20 birds hanging out around the tree and taking turns at the feeder or scrounging on the ground around it. At some point I guess I'll deploy that app and figure out what they all are.

We've got crows, owls, buzzards, etc. around here (and I'm pretty sure a bald eagle), but I guess they're too big to perch on the feeder, or just aren't interested.

Also, I seem to be developing a relationship with a squirrel. At least I think it's always the same squirrel. We have a couple of pairs of them who constantly chase each other across the yard.

I started interacting with this squirrel a couple of weeks ago. I came out on the porch and sat down while he was scrounging seed from the ground, and instead of running away as usual, he (or she, but I'll stick with "he") just kept scrounging, but more warily. I talked to him a bit. When I told him he was fat, he took off.

After that, he stopped automatically running off when I came outside. Then one day I came out just as he was launching his scheme to get at the feeder. He was in the tree. I sat down. He pretended to ignore me. He crept up the tree and out on the branch the feeder hangs from. I waited until he snaked down the line the feeder hangs on and got his paws on the top of the feeder before yelling "booga booga" at him. He ran to another tree and scolded me for several minutes, then ran off when I ran toward him.

The next day, I opened the door and there he was on the bottom step of the porch. He didn't run until I opened the outer door and stepped out. And then he just ran as far as the area beneath the feeder, where he proceeded to eat and watch me for several minutes before sauntering away in what seemed to me a rather surly manner.

On my to-do list is finding out what food squirrels like best, and trying to get the little bastard to eat out of my hand.

Yes, I am a boring person. But not a bored one.


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