Finch Photo-Bomb!

I adore the Northern Cardinals that live in almost all corners of our property. They have a little, happy chirping sound to announce their arrival into an area, and of course the males’ brilliant red coloring is a sight to behold. Even though I am typically aware of where the birds are through their calls, I cannot always see them. Then, once they fly into my general zone, they are not easy to film. They remain hidden in the branches of the trees, and flit about often quite quickly.

This next photo is of a female Northern Cardinal. For me, it’s pretty good quality – but, there’s the shadow of a branch across her face.

When I was a kid, I remember Cardinals stopping by the basic bird feeder in our yard that contained the generic seed selections. But, the Cardinals on our farm are quite elusive. They are a rare visitor to the feeders off my office patio. And, while the new feeding platforms we put up in two locations out in the “wilds” of our property are stocked with Cardinal friendly food, I hadn’t seen one land to snatch a sunflower seed since we began feeding the birds this autumn.

That all changed a few days ago when, while sitting filming the “regulars” at the Pond Meadow feeder, I began to hear Cardinal chirps moving increasingly closer to my location. Now that the trees have shed their leaves, I have been able to get a few good shots of the Cardinals. Many times, however, a branch still obscures the complete beauty of the birds. I was hoping that one might actually land on the feeder so that I could get a complete bird in good light. It was a bright, sunny day and I was just about fifteen feet from the feeder.

Then, it happened. A male Cardinal flew into a tree, three trees down from the feeder. He made the short flight to the second closest tree, then the tree just next to the feeder. A moment later, as if he had been doing so for months, he hopped onto the platform feeder! I prefer taking photos of birds in their natural habitat, but the feeder allows for an un-obscured view of the bird.

Uncertain how long he might stick around, I focused on the lovely, red bird and snapped away. I hope I get that glint in his eye! I hope his feathers are in super-clear focus….

Happy that I had finally experienced the Cardinal on the platform feeder, a few hours later I sat down at the computer to review the pictures I had captured. I was so excited to view them!

How kind of this handsome guy to flip his position so that I could film both sides of the bird, I thought. But, the next image included a White-crowned sparrow that landed just behind the Cardinal.

The Sparrow quickly moved onto the platform where he began selecting his seed prize, but immediately a House Finch flew in and consumed the pristine image I was hoping for. She settled, staring at the large, crimson bird as if she questioning his purpose on “her” feeder.

Frame after frame, the finches took over the photo-shoot!

Even when there was a clear shot of the Cardinal – as long as I cropped out the bird at the end of the branch – a White-crowned sparrow’s shadow marred the possibility for a clear image. And, when the Cardinal had his fill, and turned to fly off, that dang little bird flew off with him. Seriously?

Hopefully after he had his fill of the seed offerings, the Cardinal flew into a nearby tree. Great! The chance for a clear image of the bird was still possible. But, alas. Look at the top of the photo. Mrs. Finch is zooming in!

I was able to crop this one shot to nice representation of a Northern Cardinal. But, after the finch found her branch, there would be no more single species image for me! Even a male House Finch flew into a shot! And, off flew the Cardinal.

I reminded myself there would be another day to film the Cardinal on the platform. And, the following day there was! But, it was a cloudy day (which mean much less clear images), and the Finches were still engaged in welcoming their larger cousin to their diner. I guess nobody wants to eat alone.

Are They A Couple?

On November seventeenth, I was thrilled to observe a Belted Kingfisher fly over the pond from the south, and land at the top of a tree on the northeast side of the water. I was able to take a few photos of it, then it flew across the pond to the west where I lost sight of it.

Not having ever expected to see this species at our farm pond, I knew almost nothing about it. Fortunately, there’s this place / thing / kingdom referred to as the Internet. There one can find a wealth of information – not always accurate – about nearly every topic imaginable. So, I did a little research on this curious blue and white bird.

What I learned is that there are about 90 species, worldwide, but only one popped up in AllAboutBirds. I suppose the site caters to North America. The Belted Kingfisher is the only species that is found in my area of the world. A few others are found in the USA, but in warmer climates.

I also learned that the species is sexually-dimorphic meaning that the two genders look different. In the Belted Kingfisher, the males have one blue band across the chest. The female have the same blue band, plus a chestnut colored band below that. Good to know. The bird that I filmed was a male.

The species was described as frequenting streams and shoreline. It maintains a breeding territory along those areas. We have a farm pond. There’s no running water. I wouldn’t consider it a “shoreline.” The “Backyard tips” section of the AllAboutBirds page said, “Belted Kingfishers sometimes come to backyards that contain ponds or goldfish pools, often to the dismay of the homeowners.” I don’t think that our farm pond has any goldfish, but it sure has ample frogs, Blue gills, Large mouth bass and catfish! If they hunt koi up near a house, they might enjoy something like a Crappie in a more private setting. Still, I thought, “I will probably never see this bird again.” I was so happy to have been present when it decided to land in the tree by our pond!

A couple of days ago, I saw a bird in a tree near the south end of the pond. It was big. Never shy about filming an unknown critter, I snapped a few shots. The images were poor quality, the dead leaves on the tree were concealing the bird’s image, the bird wasn’t in focus….but I was pretty certain it was a Kingfisher.

11/28/20 I think this is a Kingfisher

On November 29, I was positioned at the feeder by the lower pond clearing when I began to hear the chattering call of a Kingfisher. First, it was coming from quite far away, to the south. I clicked my camera setting to video record and captured this call:

Then, the calling got louder. About every few minutes I could tell the bird was moving closer. Finally, after hearing its raspy call for several minutes, the bird made it appearance – flying along the east side of the pond to the top of a tree. I can’t say exactly, but I think it was the same tree it had landed a couple weeks earlier. Click. Click. Click. My shutter worked quickly to catch the bird before it flew off. Here is a photo of the bird – original view from my position and cropped.

Once I enlarged the photo, I was quite amazed to see that this bird appears to have the chestnut colored band below the blue band on its chest. It’s a female! This isn’t the same bird that had visited on the seventeenth. It’s impossible to say, due to the poor image quality, whether it was the bird that showed up the day prior.

After sufficient time filming the birds at the lower pond feeder, I decided to travel to the Pond Overlook area that Robert recently mowed for my viewing pleasure. It’s south of the lower feeder and much higher. Here’s a view from that area. When located at the Lower Pond feeder, I had been positioned out of frame on the left. The bird had landed in a tree out of frame on the right, then crossed the pond to a stand of mature trees out of frame on the upper right. I hoped to see it fly from there, if it was still in the area.

It’s a lovely place to sit and reflect in the reflection of the pond (facing northeast.) The next photo faces south from the same spot.

I began hearing the Kingfisher’s vocalization after sitting for a few minutes. It was getting loud, and I thought it might be prudent to capture the call on video. That sets me up to be a few seconds away from re-initiating the camera setting. Since birds fly in and out of my range in less than that amount of time, I often hold back from clicking over to video. But, this time it was worth it.

When attempting to record an bird call, I’m only focused on catching the audio. So, I tend to just hold the camera towards the sound. I’m not actively trying to capture an image – but the camera still records audio and visual information. For that reason, this next video is exceedingly jumpy and lacking a point of view. Still, unwittingly, I caught the flight of the bird as it landed in a tree across the pond.

The bird, albeit very small in the frame, can be seen landing in the tree top about center of the image. The rattling call you hear throughout is the Kingfisher’s vocalization.

So, let’s remember that I didn’t know it was a female, and therefore a different bird than I saw two weeks earlier. I just assumed there was a single, male bird. However, once I came to know the gender through processing the photos, I was surprised – again – to find that the still shot images of this flying bird showed no chestnut coloring on the chest. The photos are not stellar, they bird was quite far away. But, I think it’s clear there is no copper color across the chest.

What that suggests to my novice birder brain is that a pair of Kingfishers stopped by on November 29. Were they checking out a possible place to have a brood come Spring? Oh how incredible that might be!

I wrote a post a while back regarding “If you look, you will see.” Here’s another example of that phenomenon.

I can assure you I will be looking for this pair of Kingfishers every time I go out near the pond, and even more so when it comes time for them to dig into the earth and make their nest. Yes, they burrow “along earthen banks and feed almost entirely on aquatic prey, diving to catch fish and crayfish with its heavy, straight bill.” AllAboutBirds reference. We have plenty of burrow-able space around our pond – I’m just sayin’ – and rent is very reasonable.

Birds

The weather hasn’t been as accommodating as it may have been. Rain, high winds and cold temperatures make it challenging to get out to see what’s happening with our avian friends. We were fortunate to get a couple of days of intermittent sun, and one truly sun shiny day in the past week, but I’ve been busy with other projects so I am late sharing some of the interesting and lovely images I captured during the sunshine.

Here, I present a few photos just to whet your appetite. I hope to create a couple of more substantial posts in the next day or two.

A Northern Mockingbird enjoys fresh grapes.

A Red-bellied Woodpecker hanging around!

Downy Woodpecker (1-3 female / 4-5 male)

A Black-capped Chickadee

Dark-eyed Junco

Tufted Titmouse

Northern Cardinal

Red – The Color To Welcome The Holidays

The Northern Cardinal remains here all year long. We are so fortunate to have the splash of vivid red through the dreary days of winter. The falling of the Fall foliage now permits us to see the bird in all his glory.

Cardinals announce their position with a single chirp which is repeated often. It seems to me, but it’s only my perceptions, that the female arrives to an area first. Once she clears it, the male may fly in, usually quite briefly, and make his presence known.

The next photos were taken a couple of days ago near the Lower Pond feeding station.

Yesterday, I decided to travel to the east side of the property via the Corridor. That space is very bird dense as it connects two areas, about an acre in size each, of complete overgrowth, some volunteer trees and several mature trees. I first saw the Blue Grosbeaks in the Corridor. It’s also the space that I filmed most of the migrating warblers. It’s also the place where the mature apple tree is, and where I hung apples to attract the fruit-eating species earlier this fall.

Before I even arrived at the entrance to the corridor, I spotted a Cardinal in a tree about twenty feet from the opening. Unlike the bird shown above, that was at the Lower Pond feeder (and about 800 feet away and across the pond from the Corridor), this bird sports a brilliant, deep red color. I think that the bird above is probably a juvenile male.

This pretty, adult male Cardinal flew in the direction of one of the overgrowth areas on the south side of the corridor. As I made my way into the entrance, I noticed quite a bit of bird movement from north to south across the corridor. I drove up about twenty feed and stopped. I knew that if I settled and was quiet, those birds might venture back to their activity before I startled them. That’s what happened. Although they were farther up the path than made for great photographs, first two, then three, then four and finally seven Cardinals (males and females) moved back to the mowed area. They were foraging for – well, I don’t know, but it was food, I suspect. It may have been insects or some sort of vegetation. Whatever it was, it maintained their attention for a good long while.

When reviewing the photos, if you are counting birds, keep in mind that the females are incredibly well camouflaged in the autumn lawn and leaves. The final photo shows six birds, but there were seven – one just didn’t make it into the frame. The final female is on the right side, near the taller grasses. If seven Cardinals congregating together wasn’t enough, there were a few othersthat were hanging out in the fringes that I could see, now and again, popping into the corridor opening, then flitting back to cover. I can only imagine what it would have been like with a light covering of pure, white snow. Spectacular. Perhaps I will get the opportunity to see that sometime in the future.

It was a splendid sight to see a couple of days before our Thanksgiving holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving!

What A Cutie!

Check out the hair-do on this Downy Woodpecker. OK. To be honest, there was a stiff breeze and the wind was causing his feathers to ruffle. But, regardless of cause, he’s quite captivating. Don’t you agree?

Even from a different position, and a more traditional cap, he’s a lovely creature. He even sports a red, heart shaped mark on the back of his head. Coming or going, he draws my attention.

He arrived at the Lower Pond feeder to sample the peanut-suet pellets. He consumed a few! I’m happy to have provided the nutrition in preparation for winter. He makes my heart sing.

These next shots were taken a few days earlier. There was more sunlight that day. I’m not sure if it’s the same bird, or another. in the final photo he is sharing the space with a House Finch.

Subdued

I’ve said this before – I am an amateur photographer and a newbie “birder.” Sometimes I evaluate my projects against a standard that I’m trying to reach, rather than for what I actually see before me.

Today, I headed out to see what was going on around the property, knowing that I probably wouldn’t get any “decent” photos. After enduring two days of nasty weather, I wasn’t concerned about snapping the perfect photo. I just knew it would be good for my soul.

Here I present images I captured today in very low light – late in the day with overcast skies.

I need to remind myself to see the natural, artistic expression of a photo that I’ve taken – regardless of whether it’s perfectly in focus, properly lit or the subject is well composed. Natural beauty is beautiful.

Dine-In or Carry-Out

Before I started to create this post, I had to find out where I stood in the greater scheme of things – wild bird related things, that is.

At Wikapedia I read that “Over 55 million Americans over the age of 16 feed wild birds and spend more than $3 billion a year on bird food, and $800 million a year on bird feeders, bird baths, bird houses and other bird feeding accessories.”

I’ve been able to determine that I’m not weird or abnormal regarding my love for the wildlife around me. Whew!

I buy stuff to feed the wild birds that come to visit or are permanent residents at our property. It’s a hobby and as such, I don’t need to explain it. My conservative, somewhat penny-pinching father told me that in my youth. As a person born in 1929, he had seen and experienced many struggles. Yet he wanted us kids to know that, as long as you are taking care of your required needs, you can have a hobby and you don’t need to justify it. I always thought that was a wee bit contradictory of my dad’s basic disposition, but I loved him for it.

So, I buy stuff for the birds. The question is, am I purchasing the right stuff for these lovely creatures? I wouldn’t want to provide something that isn’t safe for them, and I also want to give them what they need. For example, the Bluebirds completely snubbed the dried meal worms that we offered as they were getting close to fledging their brood last summer. They were working hard at bringing enough protein to feed their growing chicks, so we put out a small dish of the dehydrated fair. I guess they wanted to offer their young the highest quality nutrition regardless of how hard their toiled to achieve that goal. But, let’s face it, I wouldn’t have eaten those dried up worms, either.

Still, the Carolina Wren is seen here with a meal worm in her beak after performing her outrageously fast Drive-Thru behavior on the feeding station at the north end of Pond Meadow. Unlike when the Bluebirds were raising their chicks, it’s now colder and the selection of real-meat protein (insects) is dwindling to close to nothing. I’m glad Robert thought it wise to include the mealworms on the feeder platform.

This Carolina Wren also nabs the loose peanuts that are mixed in with sunflower and safflower seeds. She likes to (quickly!) hang on the tube feeder that contains suet-peanut pellets and take a few beaks worth of the high fat offering. And, I’ve seen her at the standard square suet-plus-cracked corn feeder, as well. I’ve even seen her pulling a piece of peanut out of a glob of chunky peanut butter that we smeared on the feeding station. As far as Dine-In or Carry-Out, she’s a Carry-out kind of gal.

I’ve also seen a Northern Mockingbird grab a mealworm or two, and he definitely likes peanuts. Perhaps a bit too much! Here’s a sequence of photos that ends in what might appear to be a self-imposed Heimlich maneuver – but I think it’s just an itch that needed to be scratched!

Mr. Mockingbird is definitely a Dine-In sort of customer. He rarely grabs and goes, rather choosing to methodically scrutinize his options, while scanning the doors to the Diner for any possible incoming threats. I suspect if he were human he’d order the standard “PB&J” (peanut butter and jelly) sandwich, since he likes to consume the fresh grapes and peanuts in one “sitting.”

I figured out a way to offer the grapes at an “outdoor seating” location a few feet from the platform feeder. I purchased a feeder that is designed to help woodpeckers feed on the suet via a tail-prop bottom portion. Apparently, woodpeckers use their tails to hang vertically on a tree truck during feeding, so this model supports their needs. I decided to break a standard suet square in half, put it in the bottom half of the feeder, and load the grapes above it. The solid fat suet prevents grape juice from penetrating the wooden frame. Yeah, I patted myself on the back for that one! The Mockingbird took to the new “seating section” of the diner quite quickly.

I transported the standard square suet feeder to our new feeding station down at the lower west end of the pond. Robert, who completely supports my hobby in any way that he can (because I have a wonderful husband!), cut through six foot tall weeds and thickets to create access to a part of the property we hadn’t been able to get to for years. We set up a small platform feeder on a tree in a clearing that Robert created. The second day, a Mockingbird showed up on a Trail Cam eating grapes out of the same “fruit on top” format.

While Mockingbirds are Dine-in customers, the Red-bellied woodpecker is very much a drive-thru sort of gal. She begins calling from across the meadow as if to announce she’s on her way. Then, she flies in and lands in a nearby tree. A half a minute later or less, she flits down, settles on the feeder and selects her goodie. It’s nearly always a peanut. Then, she does a peculiar behavior. She glances slightly upwards and due north (left in any of these images.) I watched this behavior repeat many times over one day and I felt as if she was looking at the cashier and asking for this new peanut to be added to her tab before she flew off.

The Tufted Titmouse is a species I just recently caught on film, but not with stellar photographic prowess. It is definitely a Drive-Thu specialist. Its approach to the feeder is methodical, and when it finally reaches the platform, it performs a quick grab and go behavior.

While the Titmouse, Carolina Wren and the Red-bellied Woodpecker are clearly Drive-Thru customers, the “little birds” as I refer to them, are more likely to Dine-In. The most common birds that spend minutes at a time on the platform feeders are White-crowned Sparrows, House Finches, Goldfinches and Pine Siskins. At least that is the case at this time. They stick around picking at the dining options which are black oiler sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, sunflower chips (hulled sunflowers) peanuts and fruit that I try to replenish a couple times a week. The dining room can be quite crowded during peak times, but the birds seem to be able to negotiate their landings and take-offs without trouble. On occasion I will observe a group of nearly all the same species eating together. I wonder if they booked the “conference room” for some sort of meeting!

These birds do like to “eat in.” But, they also do quite a bit of carry-out, as well. It’s not unusual that I film a bird on a nearby tree branch with a seed in its beak. It’s sort of like relaxing in front of the TV with a carton of Chinese Take-out.

When an unexpected guest arrives at the Diner, the outcome can be varied – from complete tolerance to a very fast exit. When it comes to the Red-bellied Woodpecker, it seems that a fly over is much more tolerated than a pop up from below. But some birds are simply more tolerant of unforeseen circumstances.

On occasion I have to simply tilt my head and wonder what the intention of a specific behavior might be. Do you think this House Finch is performing a massage, hitching a ride, or maybe helping the other bird dislodge a seed that is stuck in its throat?

I found this next photo very curious. It is a picture of our new feeding station at the lower west pond, which I’ve hardly been able to visit due to several days of over twenty MPH winds and overcast skies. My perception is a product of my environment – which at this time is associated with experiencing a pandemic for the past many months. Have you heard about it?

These birds look as if they are gaining access to the feeder one-at-a-time while practicing social distancing! So patient they appear.

I suppose one of the most common reason that people provide food to wild birds is to gain the opportunity to ask those exact questions (“What is that bird Doing?”) from the comfort of their kitchen table while sipping a nice, mellow tea or hearty cup of coffee. I’ve set up our feeding stations way out in our property so no comfy kitchen for me. Still, I can sit with a warm, winter jacket and a knit hat in the brisk, fresh air. With my camera in hand, balanced on the steering wheel of the golf cart, I find my time with nature incredibly restorative, even if I look a bit crazy. Nobody’s looking (except my husband who snuck this shot!)

New Species

Every time I see a new species of bird on our property, I get excited, and sometimes awestruck. Who knew that birds of all different types would find us? We live in a very rural area surrounded by thousands of acres of land that is mostly dedicated to crops like corn and soybeans. One can find mature trees in hedgerows and along streams that travel through these crop fields, but the majority of the acreage is dedicated to a uni-crop usage which doesn’t lend itself well to native wildlife. When we first moved here nearly two decades ago, we were scolded by neighbors simply for putting in pasture grasses where cash crops had once been the exclusive means of making a living off the land. When we moved here with seventy sheep and two llamas, I had a local farmer sow pasture grasses in our fields. “You ruined that land, you know?” a neighbor informed Robert when they first met.

Back then my intention was to provide grazing land for our sheep so that we could use them to train our herding-working Border Collies for competitive trials. I wasn’t thinking about birds, or raccoons, or white tailed deer. But, when our business aspirations moved in a different direction, we sold the sheep and simply left the land to “naturalize” with the caveat that we cut a hay crop in the larger fields to prevent the overgrowth of shrubby plants.

With the fall migration well under way, I have been able to add a number of new species to my “Birds In Our Backyard” list. Most recently, after filming more warbler species than I thought might ever visit in early Autumn, I’ve filmed a few more – or, I’ve been able to film species that I knew were around through their songs, but not their appearances.

Today, I filmed an American Tree Sparrow. I wasn’t sure if it was anything novel, but my standard practice is to shoot and ask questions later – with the camera, of course. I sort of skipped over the images because I wasn’t sure what it was. Then, I listed to an audio file of a song I hadn’t heard before. I recorded it this afternoon and played it into the eBird app this evening. The guess was “American Tree Sparrow” so I scanned “that sparrow that I couldn’t identify” files and the names matched. What a cutie!

Yesterday, to my absolute surprise and delight, a Belted Kingfisher flew in. I heard him first, with a rattling call. Then, he landed at the top of a tree near our pond. He looked about for a few minutes, flew to another tree, then dove down to the water’s surface and I assume nabbed a snack.

I was also happy to have captured a White-throated Sparrow – albeit the images quality isn’t the greatest. This handsome bird was one of dozens that were hanging out in the hedgerow/underbrush near the feeding station that we put up in the Pond Meadow. I haven’t seen it since, so perhaps it was just flying through.

On the same day that I filmed the White-throated Sparrow, I got a snapshot of a Cedar Waxwing. I have been aching to see one of these beauties, but alas the photo was so nondescript that I had to post it to a bird group at Facebook to get some clarity. I haven’t seen another since that day, even though I put out fresh fruits which the Mockingbirds seem to love, but which haven’t lured in more Cedar Waxwings.

After having heard it calls back in the Spring and again this fall, I filmed my first Tufted Titmouse, . I’m thrilled. It quickly stopped by the feeder, grabbed a seed and took it to a nearby tree to crack it open. This is a striking animal.

There are a couple of birds that I had either heard or filmed before, but I have been fortunate to get better images of quite recently.

The Dark-eyed Junco first appeared at top of a tree, and while the photo was clear, it wasn’t very crisp. Here’s a better shot of this stately bird.

I have gotten increasingly better shots of a Carolina Wren – a bird that eluded me all summer with it’s crystal clear calls, and no sightings.

I’m astonished and excited to add these bird species to my list of backyard birds. Of these recent visitors, I am most excited to have seen the Belted Kingfisher. We have a farm pond – not a stream, and we are several miles from a river. So, the fact that he stopped by for a little bite to eat was exciting. I hope he comes back often!

Serenity

Because I am usually trying to display a bird’s unique characteristics, I usually crop photos to present just the bird. In reality, the bird is a tiny bit of information in the middle of the photo because typically I have to maintain my distance to be privy to these beauties and my camera lens is only so powerful.

Today I present photos that I find quite pleasing, because they offer a glimpse of the world in which that bird actually exists. I like the serenity that most of these shots impart.

Oh, and yes! That is a Belted Kingfisher you see in the top of a tree. I was incredibly surprised to watch it fly in, hang out for a few minutes, nab a snack from our pond, and then fly off! It was exciting to witness.

Have a Little Suet With Your seed

I had never heard of a Pine Siskin until earlier this autumn when there was an “irruption” of the species. An irruptive migration is when the species travels further than normal. From what I read, the Pine Siskins came farther south this fall due to a possible food resource issue in Canada. I want to make a political joke, there, but I won’t. I’m just glad it happened because it allowed me to learn about these birds.

These are photos of Pine Siskins that I’ve taken over the past couple of weeks:

The next two photos are (1) Pine Siskin and (2) female House Finch. There were both taken today.

When observing them from afar, I’ve often struggled determining the difference between a Pine Siskin and a female House Finch. Here is a photo of the two species side-by-side. The Pine Siskin is on the left. It has a sleeker built beak and a yellow hue, as well as yellow markings (wing bars) that are not always obvious. I found it very considerate of these two birds to pose for this photo.

This next photo is of a Pine Siskin (front right) facing a Goldfinch (front left.) When the Siskin’s yellow is apparent, it can be difficult to keep these two species apart! The Pine Siskin has streaking on the head and more obvious streaking on the breast, but it’s not always easy to see depending upon which way the bird is facing. What makes everything more challenging is that the House Finches, Goldfinches and the Pine Siskins all seem to like to hang out together when there’s food offered! The bird at the far back right in the following photo is a female House Finch.

This next photo shows (from left to right) a White-crowned Sparrow, Goldfinch, Pine Siskin, Male House Finch, Goldfinch, female House Finch.

Today I filmed a Pine Siskin performing a somewhat peculiar behavior – or not. I’m no expert on wild bird behavior, and especially not Pine Siskin behavior. But, I found this bird’s goings-on quite interesting. The following sequence shows a Pine Siskin at a suet feeder that is hung on a tree. The tree is just about five feet away from the feeding platform that is shown in the above photo.

The bird has a sunflower seed in its mouth. That is not at all odd. I have dozens of photos of birds carrying seeds away from the feeder. I believe that some take the seed to a more solid branch where they can crack it open in privacy. The Black-capped chickadee (or, ours might be Carolina Chickadees – that’s another post) and Tufted Titmouse often carry their seeds to a cache that they create for winter consumption. But, this Pine Siskin appears to be adding a little suet to the seed. I’m not sure what its intention might be. Perhaps, it is using the seed as a suet scoop. What ever its intention, I found it interesting enough to post here.

I have to stop here – although the bird dipped into the suet several more times before flying off with the seed still in its beak! I’m sure you get the picture.

I’m going to leave it up to the experts to shed some light (or not) on this curious little moment in time. For me, it makes perfectly good sense. After all, most of the foods we use as “dips” are pretty high in fat (sour cream or mayonnaise based dips and guacamole for chips, butter for lobster – the list goes on and on.) Why wouldn’t a bit of beef tallow be the perfect accompaniment for sunflower seeds? I’m just happy to have been able to satisfy this little bird’s craving!