Saturday, February 18, 2012

Back to birds

We're having unseasonably warm weather. Not that i mind, insofar as my heating bill goes, although i'm fearful as to what sort of spring we shall have, as we haven't really had a proper winter.

However that may be, i took advantage of sunny skies and above-freezing temperatures to hang some wash on the line. This is not something unusual for me, and i'm sure my next door neighbours are bemused by my efforts when it's well below freezing, and i'm out there hanging towels and sheets. I even laugh at myself as i try to pry the frozen items off before the early dusk, and to see dungarees frozen so hard that they don't bend as i lay them across the washbasket. I've found that if we don't have temperatures over 20°F (~-6°C), the items don't dry really at all before they freeze solid. I bring them indoors to let them thaw and air dry and for my pains, i'm rewarded with that wonderful outdoor smell, which is a balm on those short winter days.

The clothesline runs north to south, flanked by a row of very tall arbor vitae on the western side. The compost bin is at the corner of the far end of the arbor vitae, inside the fencing the previous owners installed, for they had dogs. Squirrels and chipmunks use the fence as a throughfare and lookout. I've seen kestrels use it as a perch. I put the bird and suet feeder east of the clothesline, again just inside the fencing, and i scatter seed on the ground for the ground feeders.

I check the feeder daily and hear the chickadees call to one another. At times, it sounds as if they're letting each other know that i'm there to replenish, and they make ready. A few of the really hungry or adventurous ones will fly to the top of the clothesline for a better view. One or two invariably fly to the suet feeder, i move, and they fly back to the arbor vitae. I return with the feeder now full of seed, scatter some on the ground, and as i trace my steps back to the barn to put the cup back in the seed bin, one or two chirp as i go past. I often say, "You're welcome!" for it seems as if they're chirping thanks.

It doesn't take long for the other birds to come around, either, so i have to wonder if the chickadees initial chirping is more like the start of the communication chain, like the twilight barking in 101 Dalmations. By the time i'm back in the house, i hear the blue jays calling, then the crows.

It seems whenever i hang wash on the line, the chickadees must investigate. They chirp then call "chickadee" as they watch me, and at least one bird flies very close by to alight on the bird feeder. I wonder if it's an avian game Dare, where they dare one another to see who can get closest to the human and back safely. Twice today, i nearly had one fly into my head, and i could feel the wind from their wings as they flew past. I've seen them land on the line, poised on the far end of the sheet i'm hanging, and watching with interest as i pin my end to the line. For all their flitting back and forth, there have been surprisingly few times that i've found bird poop on anything.

Photo copied from

This winter, they've discovered the suet that heretofore only the woodpeckers ate, and a few sparrows have feasted on the grubs that hatch from time to time on the compost bin's lid.

When i ran errands on Thursday, i saw three seagulls sitting on my rooftop, and in hanging out the wash this morning, i saw one soaring overhead, surveying for scraps.

A flock of wild turkeys find the back yard, outside the fence, a nice place to stop, rest, and peck. I'm amazed at how quiet they are, and how stately they walk single file when making their way from the back to side yard before crossing the street and disappearing in the woods.

The cats think this Bird TV just marvellous, although they rarely catch a bird. When they do, they keep it for themselves, and i only know when i see a pile of feathers on the ground. Just as well, as i'm not a good gift recipient.


  1. I saw a huge flock of wild turkeys on Friday in a field, never seen as many. If we see wild turkey's once a year around our place we're doing well.

    I love looking at the birds and so does Molly our doggie!!


  2. Gill, i did not see the turkeys very often in my yard when i first moved here, but i've noticed them more since this summer. I'd often see them farther up the road, or sometimes across the street in the woods.