Tuesday, January 6, 2009

EATS IN THE SLEET

Last night's rain has turned to this morning's sleet. There's a thin coat of ice on everything, which is likely to increase dramatically if it continues sleeting throughout the morning. An ice overcoat might make for good photography, but it's already hazardous trying to walk across the graveled drive and deck. I filled both feeders with sunflower seeds soon after getting up, and scattered the usual ration of cracked corn plus a bit extra on the stump block, rocks, and ground. I always worry about the birds not having enough to eat when their usual wild tidbits are unavailable due to ice. Birds live on a thin margin during the winter; I wouldn't doubt the difference between surviving and dying often comes down to half a teaspoon of calorie-producing seed or grain. I don't want my carelessness to push even a single dooryard sparrow over the survival edge. Within moments of putting out the food, the birds were gathered round and busy breakfasting in numbers—juncos, titmice, chickadees, nuthatches, various sparrows, finches both red and gold, cardinals. The Carolina wren even favored me with a snatch of song. The wire cage suet feeders hadn't needed refilling, but the various woodpeckers seemed to increase their numbers right along with the rest of the gang—downeys, red-bellieds. Even the pair of pileateds I'd noticed working their way up and down a couple of sycamore snags on the island across from the cottage flapped over to see what all the fuss was about. I was, however, most pleased when a pair of hairys came to dine. Hairys are the least common of the common lot here in this riverine woodland setting. I see them even less often than I do flickers. I've never had a red-headed woodpecker come a'callin', nor a yellow-bellied sapsucker. I suspect, given where I live, that I actually have likelier hopes of seeing the latter one day than the former…though either would be a prize.

8 comments:

giggles said...

If I can spy a red-headed, can I trade it for a look at a piliated... Never seen one, but would love to before I die!!

I've seen red-headed (rarely) Lancaster (OH) way at my folks feeder....Here, too in eastern Pa....

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Would that make a piliated one of your "bucket list" birds?

Seriously, piliateds are spectacular. I'm trying to get a good shot of this one (two, actually—a pair of 'em live on the narrow-but-long island across from the cottage) and post it along with a little piece. Easier said than done. They're alert, easily-spooked, nervous, and always on the lookout. Seems like whenever I see one draped around my suet feeder like a caped Dracula (they look more bat-like than bird-like on a feeder) my Nikon is always somewhere else—or I can't sneak to a window without getting caught. Not to mention Moon the dog thinks it's fun when I go crawling through the great room and usually attacks, plays, bounces around and barks, etc.

But hey…we'll trade woodpecker sightings. Red heads aren't uncommon hereabouts, but seem to be in my specific stretch of river corridor woods and brush. I haven't seen one since I moved here a few years ago.

Sounds like you grew up in Ohio's lovely Amish country…

Anyway, thanks for writing.

giggles said...

Thanks....posting a good pic will suffice until I get a personal glimpse....

"Bucket list?" Absolutely!! (I saw my first peregrine this past September at Cape May...that was another one....Saw only my second bald eagles this summer, a pair perched atop power lines along busy Rt 30, in Lancaster, PA....would love to see them in a more "natural" habitat....)

Grew in in Cinti, right next to Winton Woods... Went to college at Kenyon, spent a year in Cleveland, probably one of the best of my life! And am now relocated to the Philly area...my folks have retired in Lancaster....was there for X-muss.... So even though I've lived easterly for half my life, I have proudly carried my midwestern values with me and still think of Ohio as "home." You and Nina remind me of all that is good....

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Ah-h-h…a wandering Buckeye. And one who knows Cleveland, for all its faults, is way more than the butt of media jokes.

Haven't seen the pileated yet this morning. It's gray and dim out, with snow predicted for the afternoon. I have a blue heron standing in the river, a pair of downy woodpeckers on the one suet block I can see, and a passing parade of birds working the feeder right at my work-room window. Often what tips me to the pileated's presence in the yard is their call…which I haven't heard this morning. But with the weather front and all, this might be a pretty good photo day; there is potential for a pix.

giggles said...

I'll hold my breath!! Your birding views sound wonderful!

And then your snow is headed our way.... My feeders are quiet today.... Frequently, the activity level of the birds at my feeders are good predicters of the severity of the weather blowing through, so either the front is coming in later than the weather people are saying ...or they're gonna be wrong again! We'll see tomorrow....Hope you get a nice complete perfect snowfall to enjoy and that you don't have to drive anywhere in it!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Giggles…

No snow here yet, either. I bet the weather oracles have jumped the gun by about 12-20 hours. Tomorrow is apt to be the real story.

Bring in an extra load of firewood, break out the long undies, and count on feeding your backyard birds early and extra. The storm is a'comin'!

giggles said...

Naw...it fizzled here....again.......much ado about nothing... It 's very frustrating when things get canceled or postponed by the threat of horrible stuff coming when it never comes..... The weather folks are getting it wrong more than right these days (but people are watching, and that, unfortunately is the ultimate prize....) My birds were right!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Giggles…

Break out your winter woolies! It is snowing here as I type. About an inch down already. Course, the TV weather wiz predicted half an inch, so he's wrong already.