Birds come a-visiting

Jays, nuthatches and juncos drop by occasionally to join the chickadees

John’s feeders for smaller birds aren’t seeing a lot of customers these days although jays, nuthatches and juncos drop by occasionally to join the chickadees. Conversely, the tree with the wire cage of suet attached has us peering out the kitchen window from daylight until dusk. Mr. and Mrs. pileated woodpecker usually come separately, but the smaller varieties are becoming brave enough to dine with their big “cousins”. One of those large red-headed beauties will be pecking on one side and a middle-sized hairy woodpecker, or even a small downy will be on the other – after hopping up and down the tree trunk as a confidence-builder! Brown creepers scurry above the scene, but we haven’t yet seen them feeding on the fat. Flecks of suet fall to the foot of the tree that is the favourite “table” for a pair of flickers. Other birds check out these leavings as well. But the real competition at this spot is much larger: the astute noses of doggie friends as we set out for our snowy walks.

When the temperature suddenly dropped in the -20 Celsius range, predictably, the suet was frozen solid. Watching the red-moustached Mr. pileated W. pecking at this concrete-hard potential meal caused us some amusement. That strong beak was definitely challenged in its efforts to loosen even a small amount. After that momentous feat, he moved up the tree a short distance, fluffed himself up to an even larger size, and snoozed, claws gripping the rough bark!

We’ve often had pairs of tiny brown creepers entertaining us with their unique way of scurrying/hopping up the bark of the conifers in front of the house as well. Sadly, they have a tendency to fly into our living room window; all too often, this is their final flight. In hopes of preventing a recurrence, I left snowflake cutouts adhering to that window after Christmas. Alas, despite this, one flew into the glass while I was chatting on the phone recently. Checking it immediately afterwards, I could see it was still alive. With the freezing temperatures, its breathing was slowing, so I picked it up. Weighing nothing, through fluffed up feathers, its heart beat against my hand, and tiny feet scrabbled weakly on my palm – but it made no effort to escape. Its eyes were closed.

“This doesn’t look good.” Eventually it stopped shivering, but seemed to be fading.

We got a hot water bottle and a box, lining it to make a nest-like haven. With a transparent covering balanced loosely over it, we watched, waiting for the inevitable. Or so we thought. Birdie suddenly started to flutter so John picked it up. Of course, I wanted it back, but in transferring it, it escaped, flying to the ceiling where it hung upside down. Uh-oh. No worries – it let me catch it unconcernedly. I put it outside on a wooden post where it clung to the side but made no effort to leave. We brought it in again to its nest, letting it warm up more before putting its “nest” outside, and removing the cover. A few minutes later it took to the air and disappeared into the nearest tree.


Later in the day, John saw a brown creeper at one of the feeders. The one we rescued? We do hope so. We certainly enjoy visits from our birdie neighbours – as long as they stay and play safe. Being serenaded is good too!