Monday, April 18, 2016

in the shade

It was a tad warmish today, even in the shade.
Even in the morning.
Half the herd couldn't be bothered coming up to the barn for their breakfast buckets! There's often one or two who dawdle, hoping for Room Service, but this was unprecedented.
So I fed the "energetic" group their buckets, then split a bale of hay into flakes and distributed it across the Upper West Side. I usually do this in late afternoon, but reasoned that the decision to skip breakfast might be regretted long before then. I didn't want anyone getting hungry. And cranky. And thuggish.

 Speaking of hungry...
 With only a little thistle seed left in the sack, these goldfinches were having a hard time remembering to share. I added more seed, and soon there were three of four finches all eating together.

Here's a newcomer, who was not interested in the feeders
but was very interested in the handfuls of mixed seed I scatter on the ground:
I think this is a dark-eyed junco.
But I'm open to suggestions!

Now, here's one I know!
(Because I looked it up.)
It's a (rather stunning) white-throated sparrow:

In the picture below, the white-throated sparrow is atop the stump, way over on the right side. Can you see it? (Left-click to embiggen.)

But, look again!
On the ground, way in back.
Peeping around the root of the stump.
Can you see it?

It's this little bird: 

 Which is a chipping sparrow.
(Looked that one up also.)

I apologize for the quality of these images; they were taken from 10 - 15 feet away, with two layers of not-very-clean glass midway between the camera and the birds. But I decided to post them anyway, so I'll have a record of which birds are appearing, and when, this year.

These birdfeeders are attracting a lot of high-quality entertainment and I'm going to enjoy it as long as I can.
It won't be much longer, because with this warmer weather, will come the black bears. They never seem to forget where they once - and only once! - found a jackpot of sunflower seeds. I think they have a database.

This is the print of a bear who visited years after I stopped keeping a birdfeeder up in summer:

In case you can't make it out, here's the same picture with arrows pointing to the claw marks and a line at the base of the paw pad, in line with my own paw pad:

It wasn't a very big bear. But a bear doesn't have to be very big to get into trouble, and I like bears. I don't want to be part of the problem of bears - or any other wildlife - interacting with humans.

So I'll continue to feed the birds after the feeders come down, but only by scattering seed that will be eaten up quickly. Not so much leisurely snacking for the birds, or leisurely viewing for me.

On the brighter side, it will soon be time to put up the hummingbird feeders! Those stay up til autumn.

Gosh, I'm talking about birds and bears.
Spring. Definitely. Spring.


  1. we had journaled 18 different birds that come through here. we too have the junco but have never seen the pretty little white throated sparrow. You can have your bears. do they not ever threaten the goats?

    1. Bears can certainly be a threat to goats. Coyotes also. I do my best to keep the goats safe, starting with a 6' high perimeter fence with 2x4" openings. I have goatcams in the barns, I get up and outside immediately to check anytime Piper (she's in the house) barks at night, and so on, but nothing is 100% safe. Still, I'd rather deal with any kind of wildlife threats than deal with human threats.

  2. Yes, that looks like a junco! We get lots of them here.

    The bear print is impressive!

    1. It's so funny, because I always associate juncos with winter! Then they look so puffy and chubby, and their coloring makes them look like they are wearing grey shawls! Are those different juncos? or do they just look slender and solid grey in Spring?

  3. Bears! No. They must stay away.
    Your photos look good to me.
    Bird feeders were many in this small area near the center of town. The new rules say none are to be up in the warm months because of bears. The closest I've heard of a bear citing is about 10 miles away. Close enough for no feeders.

    1. Very proactive on the part of your town!
      I asked my town to publicize a copy of the MA Fish & Wildlife advice about bears (and birdfeeders) last year. My neighbor complains if Piper barks at a bear on my property, but she also keeps a birdfeeder up.

  4. Glad to see that Spring as sprung. My college boy drove to Denver for a free outdoor concert over the weekend only to have it cancelled because of the winter storm that hit there. he's got lots of snow on the ground where he's at, too, several hours away from Denver. Yikes! Bears. Whenever we hike in Colorado, I'm always wary of whether one might be around somewhere. Sweet little birdies. I do enjoy watching the ones that come to visit my little balcony gardens. Have a great day.

    1. One of my readers got four feet in the Front Range!

  5. Yep, way too hot here too! I do believe that is a junco as you suggested. They've left here and headed north and that makes me happy because usually after they leave there's no more frost. Usually.

    1. It's looking like a fairly hot week here, so everything will be leafing out and greening up and there will be a LOT of big outdoor chores to tackle. Hoping to check a few things off a very long list!

  6. It's about time we got spring - hopefully it will manage to stay this time. Had a lovely picnic with our grandson on Sunday - perfect day for it. No humidity and no bugs!

    1. That does sound perfect! I wish I could say the same about the bugs here. Black flies have arrived in their relentless clouds of aggravation.

  7. Lovely bird pics! we get a lot of birds, many species, even though I quit feeding years ago because, well, squirrels..but we're in the middle of the Eastern Flyway, so we get all the migrations both ways.

    Saw a little spring warbler yesterday, the migrating kind, not the ones who stay year round. And once in a while if I look up at the right time, I catch flocks of snowgeese, way high up. The downside of all the species is that the Canada goose is very prolific..

    I live in a bird paradise!

  8. Definitely a dark-eyed Junco. They just arrived here too. They are ground feeders. When snow is falling, I scatter seed under our porch roof, and the juncos gather there to eat.

    I love your other photos - beautiful birds!!!! And I love bears too. You're right - it must be springtime!

  9. Love your bird shots, which turned out really well! I've been enjoying the tiny birds' visits too. The juncos are regulars here all through the winter. I'm surprised they're still hanging around, but they usually disappear in summer (to the woods). I didn't realize you were in bear country. Do they bother the goats? I've been scattering seeds all through the winter to keep the birds around without the squirrels vacuuming up an entire bird feeder full of seeds. Slows down the consumption a bit, and saves me some $$ :)

    1. I sometimes think the chipmunks do as much or even more birdseed vacuuming (from the seed on the ground) than the squirrels do (from the feeders). Oh well!
      Yes, I see bears every year, and if a hungry bear got to the goats there would likely be casualties.

  10. Sparrows, and finches, and BEARS...oh MY!


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