Monday, January 11, 2010

Feeding the birds

 Last Thursday, while on our snowshoe hike into the wilderness, I fed one of the gray jays from my hand. These cheeky birds will land right next to you and even try to snatch food from your lunch, so this picture is really not all that unusual. You don't leave anything laying around or it will be carried off. Notice he's got one of my almonds in his beak (click to enlarge).

Nevertheless, it was an interesting feeling to have the bird use my hand as a perch. They are strong, you can feel it in those feet. One posed for me on a hiking pole. You can see the direction of the wind in his feathers. He is beautiful, isn't he? Or is it she?

At home I feed the birds and have a constant battle to keep the squirrels from the bird food. I've found that I can distract the squirrels for a few minutes, even an hour, by placing peanuts in strategic places outside near the big tree. They will spend their time burying them -- I guess you could say squirreling them away. I haven't seen any sign of the black squirrels lately, but maybe the gray ones told them to get out of town, this is OUR territory. Whatever, I prefer the black ones because they are much less common. In any event, they vie for the same food as my birds. These squirrels are not underfed; in fact, the oldest one actually waddles and (ooops! gotta go yell at him for a minute) is a preferred guest to some apartment residents.

I can spend hours looking out my front window watching them. One house sparrow had an injury and has a broken wing, but he flies just fine. He must have learned to adapt. I can spot him right away because he has a bunch of white feathers sticking out right at the base of the wing, and that wing hangs lower than the other. I can't see any problem when he flies away.

Don't tell the squirrels, but I even enjoy watching them. I thought they were eating the bird food on the porch and not letting the birds get any, but I just watched a whole batch of juncos, sparrows, and goldfinch put it all away with no help from the squirrels! Feeding the birds has become a very important part of my life. Just for fun, I took this picture and downloaded it a few minutes ago, taken through the front window. I leave some seed on the porch here because the juncos won't go up to the feeders, and there are a lot of them at this time of the year. In the picture you can see goldfinch and sparrows, and I'm looking out now at the juncos, even though there aren't any here.

Gotta go, the squirrels are calling! :-)


  1. So that's a gray jay? He is gorgeous! All of these pictures and stories make me want to get a feeder and see what sort of lovely personalities I can attract. I'm not sure though that Cody wouldn't spend all of his time barking at them and such...

  2. I couldn't believe my eyes when I first looked at this picture...
    As close as I've been to wild birds, I've never been fortunate enough as to have one choose to land on me, let alone feed out of my hand.
    I know what you mean about the squirrels, they cause havoc here around the feeders, I almost stopped putting out food for the birds because of the nuisance they have become.
    Last night I looked at my potting shed vent, the squirrels had eaten through a tin vent, and entered the potting shed, leaving behind a trail of destruction.

  3. The gray jay are so much fun to watch, I don't see them here but we had them in Alaska. I love watching the birds at a feeder but I don't dare put up a feeder in my yard. The backyard is the only place I have to put one but just beyond the yard behind the trees is a large field. The hawks use the trees as a perch to hunt in the field. Putting up a feeder would be like ringing the dinner bell for the hawks. I do enjoy watching those magnificent raptors fly.

    When we lived in Vancouver I had bird and squirrel feeders. For the squirrels I had one of those that you put ears of corn on. It kept them away from the bird feeders and they loved the corn.

    PS, I took the snow effect off my blog on Saturday.

  4. Haven't heard gray jays but now I know it! Never get tired of feeding birds huh, birdwoman! They liked you so much DJ. Hmm haven't tried feeding b irds yet even if we have a couple of them nesting in our mango tree. Missed you.


  5. Wow, I've never had wild birds get up that close and personal!

  6. I can't believe (yes, I can) that you were doing a snowshoe walk. What an adventure!

    Love the bird shots. I finally have one tree that is big, strong, and tall enough to place a bird feeder. Unfortunately, it is placed where I cannot see it well to watch birds. Your tales have inspired me, though, to see what I can figure out.

  7. I am so jealous. You can't imagine how many times I have sat still waiting and wanting a bird to land on my hand. I love to watch the birds. It is a relaxing part of my day. I don't have to worry about the squirrels. Piper does his part sending them on their way.

  8. Wonderful pictures of the grey jay and when I clicked to enlarge, I saw that you were wearing the hat you made underneath the cap! I bet you wonder how you did without it before? I keep feeding my wood pigeon, who comes every day and delights me with his presence. I think he has some friends too because there's never much left by the time I come home.
    Blessings, Star

  9. How adorable is THAT? Here, the Canada Jays are quite skiddish and we can't hardly even get close enough to them to photograph them..isn't that weird? I think they have the cutest faces! What an honor to have them fly right up into your hand to eat!

  10. I have fed a few birds that way in Florida. There is a park near my dad's that looks like a scene from the Hitchcock film. But once, I fed a bird from my hand that was sitting in my weeping cherry. He wanted the berries from my holly bushes, but the cats were guarding them. It took some coaxing, but it made my day!

  11. A moment to remember and I don't care if it's common to have the birds on your hand!

  12. Oh that first photo is fantastic..what a special treat! :)

  13. Thanks for posting these very beautiful pictures!! Brought back memories of my dad ...he loved to feed and watch the birds!!

  14. The only bird which perched on my fingers was a cockatiel I had bought him in San Francisco. His name was Dimitri and he could talk. He would fly to my hand and say “how are you?”. But I never had a wild bird on my fingers – that is quite something DJan.


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