Feeder Watch Update – Two for the Price of One!

by Lee Farnham

Apologies for not having sent these separately, but I never got around to sending in the 3/10-11 until today, so it’s the last two columns to look at.

Weekend of March 10-11

This was a pretty low key affair after the deluge that came with the snow the previous week…but the numbers show that most of the regulars were there except for the White-Breasted Nuthatch; this was its first miss since we began watching in early November.  My presumption is that it all has to do with when you’re watching, not just that you are watching because Nuttie (as we call him) stands out immediately.  We first see him on our Cherry tree, about 15 feet above the Sunflower Hearts, and a little to their east.  He wastes no time in getting to the feeder, for he swoops down and makes a three point landing on the Squirrel Buster’s Cardinal Ring, and from there grabs a seed or two and flies off to a close branch.  Then, like the Carolina Chickadee, he puts the seed on the branch, held by one foot, and pounds on it until it gets a little smaller, and then it’s gone and time for another feeding run, so he repeats the swoop and feed.

Meanwhile, we were thrilled to see a Northern Flicker, though briefly!  This time “Flicikie” zeroed in on the Peanut Butter Suet, a favorite of the Woodpeckers, Chickadees, Carolina Wren and Juncos.  He was first spotted as he hung onto our suet cage and banged away at the slab of suet.  Of course, some of it was staying on his beak, but some also fell to the ground where a Junco and Carolina Wren waited to dispatch it; it’s almost as If they knew he was going to be there.  After a couple of minutes on the suet the Flicker left, but we trust he’ll come back next week.

One more thing, about the Northern Junco.  You know that we spread Thistle Seed (Niger) on our deck rail and deck itself, in addition to putting it In two feeders.  The Juncos take it on the deck mostly, perhaps because they also seek cover in the vine that’s coming up from beneath the deck. Anyway, we can always count on seven or eight at first light, getting an early breakfast.

March 17 – 18

It was difficult to get as much time in this weekend because the Green Expo at Rider College was on, and the Ewing Environmental Commission and Green Team had separate, adjoining, exhibits which needed staffing.  Although there was no birding presentation (unlike in some years past) we had Feeder Watch brochures for one and all, so there was some birding emphasis at our table.  There was more emphasis on the damage tree volcanoes can do, and we had information on the Emerald Ash Borer seminar for the public on 3/20 at 6:30PM at the Ewing Senior Center.

That over, one thing interesting about the birds this past weekend was that the Northern Flicker was back, for the second week in a row!  This may be a harbinger of spring, as we’ve only seen a Flicker about 25% of the time this winter, but it’s now two weekends running!  If you want to contemplate beauty in bird design, with black, tan, red and white, then the Flicker is the one for you.  Something about its coloring, and design, really attracts me.

A surprise turned up on early Sunday afternoon, a bird that we had only seen nine times in the 240  we’ve reported for Feeder Watch over 13 years…a ratio of 3.375%;  it was a textbook example of a male Purple Finch,  and it was nibbling on the Safflower Seed we spread under our Safflower Feeder for birds which are more ground feeders.  I’ve always said that a Purple Finch looks like a Finch that’s been dipped in raspberry Juice, and it was a textbook example of that.  Even better, it was right next to a male House Finch, so you could compare the two side-by-side to see the marked difference.

The only disappointment this past weekend was that “Wrennie,” our beloved Carolina Wren(s) had a schedule different from ours so we didn’t see one.  This LOUD bird, for one so small, must’ve been travelling, so we’re looking forward to seeing it next weekend, the penultimate one in the Feeder Watch season, which ends on April 7 (since we’re supposed to report two consecutive days with a gap of five days between the last report, it doesn’t look like we’ll be reporting on the last weekend because we won’t be able to do two consecutive days.

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