Friday, October 7, 2011

The Regulars of Café Geek

(originally posted May 26, 2011)

At my humble abode, I have three bird feeders: a large hanging tube feeder, a small feeder suction-cupped to my window, and a suet cage hanging from a hook also on my window. Between the suet and the sunflower I provide, I am able to host a small and regular gathering of avian visitors. My customers consist of locals such as mourning doves, downy woodpeckers, Carolina chickadees and tufted titmice, and less desirable out-of-towners like house sparrows and European starlings. I’ve come to notice since opening my bird café that much like individuals at a local diner, each species has distinct personalities when it comes to feeding styles. Allow me to introduce my seed aficionados:

House Finches
My problem with getting great bird pictures at my feeders is
1) Those pesky birds don't understand the command "Stay!" and
2) I don't have a really fancy and expensive camera that can do super high speed images.
(Hey Canon, wanna sponsor my blog? You'll be viewed by literally tens of people)
So, thanks to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for the images for this week's blog :)

Constantly having aerial dogfights, squeaking angrily at each other, and squeaking for no apparent reason whatsoever, these guys are like that boisterous group of teenagers sitting in the corner booth that insist on including everyone in their conversations and arguments. They may be loud, but they can also be pretty darned entertaining.

Mourning and Rock Doves
Ok, so I do have one picture that is mine this week.  
My mourning doves like to pass out after stuffing their crops.
Reminds me of some family members fall asleep after Thanksgiving dinner...

Mourning doves and rock doves (aka pigeons) are like those people who can wolf down an entire meal without coming up for air. Swallowing their seeds whole and in rapid succession, I always wonder if doves get any true enjoyment out of their meals; how can they enjoy a meal when all they taste is the seed’s shell?

House Sparrows
A male house sparrow no doubt messing up someone else's feeders.

The messiest eaters out of the bunch—I can hear them flinging seeds out of the window feeder from across the living room and know exactly who is on the feeder. They are like kids, who seem to get more food on the table and floor than in their mouths.

Carolina chickadees
Taking a meal to go!

Workaholics and Carolina chickadees have something in common: eating on the go. My chickadees never eat at the feeder. Instead they grab a seed (or two) at a time and bolt off to the nearest branch to crack it open. Even now, I just saw one member of my chickadee pair visit my suet feeder only briefly before disappearing in a gray blur.

White-breasted nuthatches
The white-breasted nuthatch in typical form: upside down

Know that person who will give you the evil eye of death if you so much as look at their plate? That’s my white-breasted nuthatch. It will take on any bird that gets too close to it, spreading its wings and gaping. I once saw the nuthatch on one side of my suet cage and my female downy woodpecker on the other side. The nuthatch inched down to the bottom of the cage—head first of course—and was visibly startled at the sight of the woodpecker’s tail. So what did the nuthatch do? Pulled it, of course!

You don't mess with this fluffy cuteness.

The birds at my seed and suet eatery are a pretty lively and diverse bunch and each day I anticipate their arrival and the antics they bring with them. The birds don’t mind me watching them from behind my counter, just so long as I keep the food coming and don’t get too close. Don’t worry guys, the last thing I would want is to be squeaked at in public.

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