Welcome reader to my blog - a mixture of this and that. Now that we are living in a retirement community in downtown Columbia, MD my personal gardening activities are somewhat curtailed. I still enjoy visiting gardens, reading, watching wildlife on my walks, traveling, and occasional food commentary. Please leave a comment if you feel inspired to do so. I read every one of them.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Close Encounters of the Bird Kind (sans camera)

Sometimes you just have to be satisfied with seeing something and not sticking up a camera to capture the scene for all to see later.  That happened to me yesterday on four different occasions.

No. 1
At breakfast there was a thump at the window and I looked up just in time to see a bird fly back to the beech tree and sit there stunned.  Now I have decals on my south facing windows that are supposed to warn the birds of the clear barrier between them and me but they don't work as well as they should.  Last week it was a nuthatch but it didn't make it off the deck where it flopped after hitting the glass.  I had to toss it into the woods the next day.  For awhile I kept a tally of the birds that have hit the windows and it includes a falcon and a cedar wax wing.  But I digress.

Yesterday, the bird survived and I realized that no wonder it had hit the glass.  It was a new comer or should I say returning resident who spends its summers in cooler climates and only deigns to join us here in Maryland when the weather at its summer house gets too cool.  Yes, if you figured it out: the juncoes have returned.  The one in the beech tree sat there a bit and then was joined by another and together they flew off.  I didn't see them again yesterday so maybe they decided to move farther south but I know the ones that choose to stay here will be here soon because after all snow is on the way. Oh, wait not just on the way, on the ground.  We got a dusting this morning! 

No. 2
I had a pile of mulch leftover from some new beds that landscapers made for me.  I ordered the mulch and got too much.  I knew snow was on the way and I was bound and determined not to have that pile be there for that weather event (or I wouldn't hear the end of it from Dan!)  I managed to get several loads moved on Wednesday until it rained.  So yesterday was the afternoon to get the rest moved.

I heard them before I saw them.  They were in the woods to the east and it was quite a din even from a distance but I didn't know what they were.  I went back to spreading mulch, but the din of chirps and cheeps almost a clattering sound of silverware landing in the drawer grew louder still and I looked up to see the black shapes flitting from tree to tree then gathering into a cloud swirling around settling into another set of trees.  Individual birds didn't stay put for long and flitted from one branch to another.  They weren't eating.  Then they went silent and took to the air and settled again in a group of trees and the din would start softly and gain strength.

No camera, no binoculars but my guess is they were grackles.  They never crossed the pipeline easement which runs east and west on the north edge of our property and along our driveway at its steepest part, so I never saw them closely, but they had the shape and color of grackles.  I have seen those long masses of birds flying together so maybe this was the beginning of such a mass.  A gathering of the species as they moved through the woods. The strangest part of all this was the instantaneous silence. Who was the conductor cutting off their sound?

No. 3
Yesterday was also a day to put away hoses and pots and the shed is the repository for those things over the winter.  I pulled out the snow shovels while I was at it and brought them to the garage.  Best be prepared.  As I approached the shed there was a flash of blue.  Aww - the bluebirds.  And not just one, or two but three.  They did nest in one of my boxes this spring and summer, but they disappeared for a time and now every once in awhile I get to see them again.  They stayed on the top of the shed roof until almost the moment I reached the door.  They are so much braver than other birds on my approach.  I guess that's something to do with their comfort zone.

No. 4
Inside and ready to relax after a task done, I sat on the window seat in my bedroom with my feet up.  Something caught the corner of my eye and I turned to look at a chickadee on the stone window sill.  If it looked in the window it would have seen me a foot away but it was so intent on opening its sunflower seed and finding bits of other seeds on that stone that I could sit there and get such a close encounter.  What a tiny scrap of a bird and such a lot of work to open a sunflower seed.  It didn't stay long because it had to go back to the feeder for another.

Okay so maybe the last one was the only close encounter, but can you blame me?  It was such a catchy title!


Emily said...

Sounds like your ready for winter. We've got to do what we can today with the bit of snow on the ground before more comes tonight.

HolleyGarden said...

Wow - I can't believe you've got snow already! And here I am - only halfway done with the mulching! Gulp! I've been noticing a lot of bird sounds that I don't recognize. Even my husband asked me about them. I figured it was some bird migrating south, but could never see them, so have no idea what it was. Your sightings are much more exciting! Sorry to hear about the poor bird hitting the window. I hate when that happens.

Patricia said...

You may not have had a camera, but your words gave me a much fuller image...I could almost hear the sounds and get a sense of place. I grew up near woods and when you mention them I have a deep sense of nostalgia. I also must say, that even though I live in a paradise of so. California, I envy the manner in which you can prepare for and anticipate each season. I look forward to your posts that will share it with the rest of us.

Jean said...

The Title got me. Hoping you keep warm.

wilderness said...

Nice to be able to see the birds so close. Wish I had bluebirds. I did have a slate junco at the feeders yesterday but the birds seem slow to find the finders this year. I have juncos all winter here.

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