Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Quick List: the Birds

After four days of cold and snow, the cats have tired of the bird channel and are getting antsy being "cooped up." Elder Cat ventured out for a few brief moments—it's all of 5 degrees F (and -15 C) out there—then was happy to return to the woodstove.

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
(The Rosy Finch of Sunday returned yesterday, but I haven't spotted her today.)

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!

1 comment:

Dave Coulter said...

I like that starling story!