At a glance outside this frigid morning, I can see:
- Northern Flicker
- Downy Woodpecker
- Steller's Jay
- Western Scrub-Jay
- Black-billed Magpie
- Black-capped Chickadee
- European Starling
- Spotted Towhee
- American Tree Sparrow
- White-crowned Sparrow
- Dark-eyed Junco: all flavors, and dozens
- Red-winged Blackbird, also numerous
- House Finch
- House Sparrow
Not bad. If I sat and watched, I'd probably do better. Oddly, only a single Starling puts its species on this list. When I fed the chickens, I found out why: All of them, an entire flock, were inside the coop. By propping the door open, ducking my head, and making for the most distant corner, I was able to shoo most of them out. In cold weather, this becomes part of the afternoon routine, but it seems like there were 200 or so this morning. I wouldn't mind them taking shelter so much (who can blame them?), but in those numbers, they intimidate the chickens, devour their food, and foul everything in range.
Today there were a few dozen who were unshooable, trying to wedge themselves in corners. This gives me the opportunity to move them by hand, and them a chance to fly directly into my face and thereby also ensure in the panic of their passing that my winter coat is ready for the laundry. Just delightful; memories of Alfred Hitchcock come to mind.
The puzzle is how did they discover this cozy spot and how did they get in there? I may never solve the first, but there's only one way in. My imagination is challenged by the thought of 200 starlings marching up a ramp and into a hatch less than a foot square!