Saturday Buffet Guests

I’ve spent the weekend nursing my second case of the flu since the holidays. So much for getting a flu shot – apparently mine didn’t take. I spent most of my time sleeping, but have worried that the bird feeders were empty. I drug my butt out of bed a little after noon yesterday and got everything filled just in time for a nap. After a short snooze I noticed that there was a lot of activity at the buffet so I bundled up, grabbed my camera, and took a seat inside the mud porch. I spent about 30 minutes shooting and decided it was time for another nap.

Later that evening I downloaded the shots – I have been setting up an Instagram account so I used a grid to compile shots rather than uploading a few dozen to my feed. If you’re on Instagram and would like to check out my gallery you can find me at @theeffstop

Since I was so worn out I decided to just use the grid images today to give you a view to the kinds of visitors I am seeing at the buffet in mid-February.

Titmice

20130216-224919.jpgOf course there are always plenty of titmice at the buffet, but I am seeing them become bolder and bolder. The sky shots were taken at about 4-5 feet away. These birds light even as I am filling the feeders. They have very little fear of me unless I move quickly.

White-breasted Nuthhatches

20130217-104456.jpgThese birds are becoming less afraid of me as the weather grows colder as well. They are not quite as bold as the titmice, but I have had one sit on the top of the suet log as I finish filling it for them. They make more eye contact than any other guests.

Red-bellied Woodpeckers

20130217-104754.jpgI think these are my favorite birds at the feeder. They have such a sweet disposition and a yearning call, I can tell they are nearby even from inside the house at this point. They are pretty easily frightened, but they keep coming back. These shots are of the male and female pair that dined with me yesterday, they come separately, but stay close by each other. While one feeds the other paces in the walnut tree above the buffet.

Northern Cardinal

20130217-105217.jpgI tried something new for the last couple of weeks, I put out a single plate of food on the top of a 6 foot ladder. The titmice love it, but so do the male cardinals. They don’t like to perch to feed, but they are also very skittish when they feed on the ground. This guy stayed at his perch for about 20 minutes, and then returned over and over. Who knew that cardinals just wanted a private table with a view, I guess they really are snobs after all.

Downy Woodpeckers

20130216-225035.jpgThe downies are getting pretty bold as well, they will feed even if I am sitting on the swing just a few feet away. They are pretty vigilant and take a look around between bites – it’s not at all uncommon for them to stare at you and then turn back to the food having determined that you are not much of a threat.

I am noticing a few new guests at the buffet. As it gets colder up north, we have more guests who are either wintering with us, or on their way to more temperate southern climes.

Red-breasted Nuthatch

20130216-225143.jpgThese guys have been at the buffet for about the last 3 weeks and seem to be pretty tame, like their southern cousins. They are shorter and have a flatter head with more prominent striping. The first time I saw one I thought it was just an odd looking native hatch, but some checking on my birding app made it clear that he is a winter visitor from Canada. Go ahead and chow down my friend, this is an all-you-can-eat joint.

Pine Warbler

20130216-225201.jpgThis guy should not be here at all this time of year, but perhaps our mild winter has made him stop for an extended visit. I have seen a female and confess that I thought she was just another goldfinch, at this time of year I think the beak is the only giveaway between the two.

I also hosted goldfinches, chickadees, and juncos yesterday, but they were unwilling to sign photo releases. I love seeing the changing clientele, i have lived here over a decade and had no idea that all of this was in my woods all along. I’m thrilled to have them as my guests anytime they choose to pop by.

Topsy-turvy Nuthatch

When I set up the buffet last spring, the nuthatches were my first regular customers. They were the first to decide I was unimportant to their dining experience, the first to try out each style of feeder, and the first to just hang out with me. They seem to prefer to do all of this upside down.

Upside down on the landing…

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Upside down as they eat…

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Upside down as they throw me a pose… (Seriously, they get style points from me for this – it’s acrobatic)

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And upside down as they check me out…

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Now, to be fair, they do fly right-side-up, mostly.