When we first arrived in 1996 and saw these I expressed my fascination with this intelligent, aggressive, beautifully shaded bird and a few neighbors said, "Well, uh, just wait a while, and see if you still feel the same.........
." Twelve years later, I know what they were feeling.
They are here year round. Even more successfully than squirrels, these birds are known to found their stashed nuts/seeds at about a 75-80% recovery rate. Their vocabulary is quite remarkable....loud screeching to call in their family members, low caws to warn of a predator, hawk-call imitations sometimes known to clear out bird feeders so they have it to themselves when they arrive, and even MORE behaviors showing a smart animal is here. They can empty a feeder by getting jowls full before they leave, then storing the captured seed in nesting sites, and any other tree irregularity. So, yes, you have to LOVE the beauty and intelligence you're watching at work.
But I said Love/Hate relationship. Just by its behavior of emptying feeders, they can be annoying but really they have evolved enough to nest, get the young fledged just about the time the fabulous songbirds are arriving for summer nesting. By the time songbirds are laying eggs, the Jays are now a full flock family of 3-5 or more birds that predate on the songbird nests. They can eat the eggs OR the live young............. SO, involuntarily, I feel a little resentment when they are filling up out there on the deck, hauling food of to chicks just WAITING for my pals, the grosbreaks, finches, warblers, etc.
Whew! If you think nature is boring, you're not looking closely enough.
The birds I REALLY dislike are the cowbirds that fly up here from the pastures / fields below just long enough to lay their own eggs in other birds nests. They're entirely parasitic, so much so, that sometimes they'll return to the nest they laid the egg in, and if they find the poor bird they invaded has gotten rid of their egg, they may destroy the other eggs to this bird will lay again...and hopefully raise the cowbird young. You can read more here: "The Cowbird
When I see THESE guys coming to feed, I can't help but get up and get rid of them............
On a higher note: SONGBIRDS ARE still arriving. House finches are here in big numbers now filling morning air with melodious trilling, rolling, musical calls. American Goldfinches are arriving in breeding color:
I know we're not up to the numbers we will be in just 2-3 weeks yet, but we're getting there. So, all in all, our bird population consists of:
Cooper's Hawk -
**The last sighting was spectacular. He/She perched high in the cedar tree near the feeders instead of down at feeder level for the first time that WE noticed. A little junco got fooled, didn't see the hawk, and landed on the deck. That hawk so masterfully, silently, and quickly was diving at that bird, grabbed, and turned in flight to coast off into the forest. Whew!
Band-Tailed Pidgeons (two pair)
**These clumsy big birds land on the feeders that are too small for them....flailing wings and all, they'll feed a while. Our "local" gang count is now up to three.
Mourning Doves (two pair at least)
**Confirmed now: We do have some fledgling Anna's. Yeah!
**Feeding volume has grown from .1 quart daily to about .7 now, so they're still arriving (also, the cold temps encourage more feeding too)
American Goldfinches - Have had a few males showing up, but the first joined pair were together feeding just last night.
**latest: TWO of them argued at the suet feeder....these are simply gorgeous spectacularly colored birds.
Stellar Jays - Yep, sometimes in a gang of 5-6.
Ruby Crowned Kinglet
**Is it the cold that is making us see them longer than usual, or are we just seeing northern migrants passing through?
**A behavior we haven't seen is happening....A Robin has begun feeding underneath the feeders.... .he/she is acting completely indifferent to everyone feeding down there except the Mourning Doves. The robin is aggressively going after the doves when they're around. I gotta Google that behavior.
**They're so much bigger than all the other birds, it's startling when they're on the deck.
**As noted, gorgeous calling songs.
Yellow Rumped Warbler
**They're finishing up the first batch of young, and doing mating dance/flights again where the white sidebards under the wings look quite nice.
And we await:
Black Headed Grosbeaks * favorite....the most fabulous mate calling around
And I KNOW there will be others............................I haven't learned them all yet, especially all the sparrow types.