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January 17, 2013 / Rae Spencer

Feeder Photos for a Cold, Cold Day

Dove Jan 17

Today’s rain swirled on a bitterly cold wind. Given the conditions, I can’t blame the birds for seeking an easy source of food.

Sparrow Jan 17

(I would love a little help identifying the sparrow above. Is it a song sparrow?)

Flock Jan 17

I can’t blame the birds because I was seeking my own easy fare. The weather was simply too miserable for a walk, or even for a long stroll around the yard. So I stayed indoors and took photos through the kitchen window.

The doves and robins looked so cold that I wanted to invite them to join me.

Dove Jan 17

Robin Jan 17

The cardinals seemed less affected by the cold.

Cardinal Jan 17

They had more troublesome things on their minds. It started with a small flock of red-winged blackbirds.

Flock Jan 17

Flock Jan 17

Cowbirds appeared next, as if responding to an alert about freshly filled feeders.

Flock Jan 17

Flock Jan 17

Flock Jan 17

The cardinal female tried to claim her share of the seed, but the flock ignored her fretful complaints and fluttering attempts to land among them.

Cardinal Jan 17

Cardinal Jan 17

She even tried eating on the ground, where she was forced to dodge between and around a milling crowd of larger birds.

Cardinal Jan 17

After a few desperate mouthfuls, the cardinal gave up and moved on.

The flock stayed for another half-hour or so, growing more and more nervous as the feeder’s contents dwindled. They stampeded into flight over and over again, then returned for a few more minutes of ravenous feeding.

Flock Jan 17

Flock Jan 17

Flock Jan 17

Finally, there came a time when they burst into the air on a loud flurry of wings and did not return. I saw them twice more, passing overhead as they visited other yards, but they were finished in our yard for the day.

I was puzzled by their retreat, because the feeder wasn’t completely empty. I wondered if they might have seen a hawk or cat, but the only thing left in the yard was this squirrel.

Squirrel Jan 17

Is it possible that they left because of the squirrel?

Squirrel Jan 17

Perhaps they were simply bored, or the feeder ran too low to make their continued efforts worthwhile. Or maybe they tired of my lurking presence in the kitchen window and my clicking, whirring camera…

Flock Jan 17

4 Comments

  1. Vicki / Jan 17 2013 7:14 PM

    brave Cardinal lady to try for her share like that.. if the Sparrow has a dark spot on his chest where the lines come together, then he is a Song Sparrow.. but it could also be a Savannah Sparrow.. if the tail is notched.

    • Rae Spencer / Jan 17 2013 7:26 PM

      Thanks for the information! I’ll look back through my other frames, to see if I caught one with a good view of the sparrow’s chest or tail.

  2. Gillian / Jan 17 2013 8:53 PM

    Hi Rae,

    It’s a Song Sparrow. Song Sparrows have very messy streaking on the chest as well as the central spot; they also have thick, triangular malar stripes and lack the yellowish eyebrows of the Savannah Sparrow. Also, the Song Sparrow is a regular visitor to bird feeders while I can’t recall of hearing a Savannah Sparrow visiting one. (I’m not saying they don’t, just that I haven’t heard of one coming to a feeder in my personal experience).

    Love the photo of the blackbirds with their faces all down in the feeder and their tails sticking up!

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