There are a zillion birds at our sunflower feeders these days, mostly fledgling Titmice, Chickadees, Downy Woodpeckers, Nuthatches and a trio of Blue Jays flailing about like the Three Stooges. The jays appeared with a parent a couple of weeks ago. The young ones hunkered down on a branch near the deck, watched their parent hop onto one of our cage feeders (the kind that is supposed to be squirrel-proof; however, the squirrels have discovered that if they throw themselves on the dome and roll it around, a few seeds tumble to the deck railing).
The parent Jay jabbed a seed from between the wire mesh of the feeder, then flew to the waiting fledglings, who immediately started bill-open crying and fluttering their stubby wings. After several days of this, they accompanied the parent onto the deck rail and were soon hopping on to the opposite side of the feeder, creating a counter-weight to the seed-digging parent. There they would hang, bewildered as to the next maneuver, which would be to hoist itself upright far enough to thrust its head through the bars and into the center silo where the seeds are.
The group is occasionally interrupted by an adult Red-bellied Woodpecker swooping in, as if to demonstrate how a professional gets the job done. The Woodpecker clamps its stiff tail against the outside of the feeder and lunges forward into the seed, then releases its grip and glides away to stick to the trunk of the white oak tree in the middle of the yard.
The Jays scattered at the superior “a-bill-ity” of the Woodpecker but quickly returned to the lesson at hand. Within a few days, the parent Jay was relieved of duty. The young birds now spend most of the mornings crawling all over the feeder. During their breaks, the feeder hosts the smaller birds, as well as a random grackle who has not yet seemed to master the seed-stealing routine of the jays.
This is a daily treasure of my Normal Day. It’s a great way to start one….