A Little Sumpin’ Special

I’m someone who believes that I can pretty much accomplish whatever I set out to do. But, I’m also a realist who understands that learning how to stand on water skis isn’t going to happen with the body I have, so I don’t have that on my list of future goals. My recent “birding” ambition has been to capture the American Crows and the local hawk species with my handheld camera. To bring the birds to me, we put out a fresh meat lure (Butterball turkey) and a few other treats like a beef knuckle and frozen liver. I’ve chronicled that in my last few posts.

After some initial success, the trail cam has failed a few times for both known (left on the wrong setting, and battery failure) as well as unknown reasons. Additionally, the wind has rattled the camera to trigger repeatedly until the SD card was filled with dozens of 30 second clips of the lone turkey. I’m pretty certain a deer (that has been showing up every night) rubbed on the post which resulted in a serious tilt of the camera angle as one of the semi-failures as well (since I was able to rotate the video and still images for better viewing.) Still, we caught a few moments that continued to rev my engine and press me to achieve my pursuits. That meant sitting in the frigid weather for three plus hours at a time for a few days in a row. My hope was that a live bird would land withing filming distance and I would have the wherewithal to record a splendid image of these magnificent birds without too many failed frames of blurry images.

After enduring the elements for hours, I was offered…..Nothing. No crows. No hawks. I heard a few caws of the raven beauties in the distance, but I didn’t catch a glimpse of one crow in flight. I heard the Red-tailed hawk’s piercing call a few times, but it seemed very far away. On back-to-back days, as I sat waiting for its arrival, a hawk (I suspect it was the hawk that showed itself in previous trail cam videos) flew over the turkey lure and then my position around 4:00 PM. Perhaps it was a surveillance mission, perhaps it was just the easiest path to it’s intended objective, which wasn’t the turkey.

What’s truly disappointing with the failed Trail cam, is that it’s obvious something was working on the carcass. It’s picked nearly to the bones and it’s covered in grass, which suggests it was dragged or turned over by some creature(s.) That we failed to capture that incident saddens me a bit.

The lack of progress towards my mission has pushed my husband towards a somewhat frenzied state of mind as he curses the electronic devices, the SD card, and the time wasted without achieving the goal. He has always been my best supporter and sometimes I think he is more affected by my lack of progress on a project than I am. This morning I reminded him that it’s only a hobby. It mustn’t trump our daily commitments nor our treasured tranquillity. Then, I logged onto Amazon and purchased a new Trail Cam and a three pack of new SD cards! Merry Christmas, Honey. I’m still committed to my objective – don’t get me wrong. I’m just not willing to get upset over minor set-backs.

Yesterday, I put foot warmers in my shoes, donned a second pair of pants, plugged in the 12V heated lap blanket and drove out to the position, hoping to catch my target. Although I keep a distance from the turkey lure of about sixty feet (and behind the cover of a hedgerow), I parked the golf cart a mere twelve feet from the platform feeder where the “little birds” have become accustomed to receiving a bounty of snacks and tolerate my presence. To sit focused on the remains of a Butterball with nothing better to do would be terribly challenging for me. So, while waiting for the “special” birds to show up, I snapped photos of the reliable, “regular” ones as they came and flew off dozens of times throughout the day.

Here’s a replica of the text communications I had with Robert, yesterday:

It was a wash. Another day when the Crows and the Hawks (sounds like two sports teams) failed to show. Then, I sat down to my computer, plugged in the SD card from my camera, and downloaded 2032 files that I took of the “nothing special” birds. When I finished processing them, which is the act of tossing out the hundreds of images that are blurry, too dark, void of a bird because it flew away before I snapped – then cropping them so that the bird is large enough to make for a good picture – I realized something compelling. While they may be “common” or “everyday” or “regulars” at the feeder, there’s something equally special about these lovely creatures as a crow or a hawk – but, maybe not a Bald Eagle (that’s a joke…maybe.)

I would like to publicly apologize to these beautiful jewels of Nature for having categorized them as merely ordinary. Because, while they may be frequent visitors, they aren’t less valuable to the ecosystem or my personal joy when I see them.

Allow me to present some special birds for your viewing pleasure (taken 12/17/20):

NORTHERN CARDINAL

BLUE JAY This is actually the first time a Blue Jay was willing to land at the feeder while I was positioned so closely to it. Curiously, when I drive into the Pond Meadow (through the old, red gate which is about 300 feet from the feeder), I have often seen Blue Jays land on the platform and snatch up a peanut. I have filmed them from that distance. I have seen them in the trees around the feeder. But, I’ve not been able to film them landing on the feeder until yesterday.

CAROLINA WREN This little bird, or one of her compatriots, has made a habit of flitting under my golf cart. Then, moments later, I hear something scuffling around in the back of the golf cart, where I keep some bird seeds and packets of suet. The first time it happened, I thought a mouse had found its way into the golf cart back where I park it near the house, and it was making its presence known. Then, I saw the wren fly off in the rear view mirror! I don’t know if she is looking for food, or she’s just interested in rummaging through my things. But, I don’t hate her for it! It’s actually quite endearing.

BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE

DARK-EYED JUNCO

DOWNY WOODPECKER (Curiously, the female – which has no red nape – prefers eating from the south side of the suet feeder, and the male prefers the north side. The south side offers better light. Perhaps she is a Diva.

HOUSE FINCH – They are so cute when fully fluffed up for warmth.

NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD (if you have a strong gag reflex, you might want to pass this section)

Just to be clear, while I have seen Mockingbirds consume the half peanuts in one quick swallow, the above bird has plucked a peanut-suet nugget to consume. They are quite soft and pliable! Knowing that prevents my personal gag reflex.

NORTHERN FLICKER

This bird spends a lot of time on the ground hunting for insects. They are often together in groups of two or more. Yesterday I captured what it does with that long bill. Rather than plucking insects on the surface (which it might also do, and what I assumed it was doing on the ground), I saw it shoving its bill deep into the soil to nab its meal.

RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER Like the little Downy Woodpeckers, this bird relishes the suet we offer.

WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW

The new trail cam arrives next week… I hope we can re-charge the luring station at that time and draw in the crows and hawks, again. In the meantime, we’ve halted that activity after observing a “feral” (neighbor’s) cats enjoying the offerings. I also saw that same cat carrying a dead rodent past me and under the platform feeder when I was filming, yesterday. I have nothing against cats doing what cats do – except they should be doing it on their owner’s land. I’d rather share the rodents that live on my property and the turkey lure I set up to support my nature photography, with the wild birds that live in my area than my neighbor’s cat that doesn’t belong here. That’s a hard battle to have with rural neighbors, so we must be creative in circumventing the problem.

I hope you enjoyed that little gift of some special birds, that wile common are not ordinary. Merry Merry.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: