Trapeze artists … and other high wire performers

In spite of all the named storms and gusty weather sweeping across the country, our bird feeders have been exceptionally busy throughout February. In fact there is a correlation: The nastier the weather the more likely we are to see hoards birds on them. We’ve not seen anything out of the ordinary to report sadly, but birds are always entertaining to watch nevertheless.

The main thing is to have sunflower seeds. While there are sunflower seeds to be consumed, there are goldfinches (Carduelis carduelis)  and greenfinches (Chloris chloris).

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Synchronized swingers

Goldfinches like to partner with each other and typically stay for some time on the feeder. This pair braved high winds on swinging perches to eat in tandem.

There is always a baseline number of chaffinches present when the feeders are active. They used to be content hopping around on the ground collecting dropped pieces of seed, but over time the chaffinches have become more courageous and now jump around the wisteria overhead, watching for openings at the feeders.

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Mid-air docking manoeuvre

Often they don’t bother with the perch at all, just hover and snatch up a nut/seed,

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but in quieter periods they will also settle and gorge … until they are displaced.

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Counter balancing pairs

Actually, chaffinches are probably the most catholic and aggressive displacers themselves. Other birds tend to arrive in teams and tag each other at the feeders, but I’ve noticed that chaffinches don’t care who is there first. They will take on every other kind of bird. Literally throwing their weight around. Here it is a smaller blue tit, getting a quick snack, (but hasn’t noticed the looming chaffinch!)

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Aerial substitution

Ah, now he does!

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“Adios blue tit. Yes, I’m tagging you!”

Blue tits will use any of the feeders, wherever they can squeeze in, but in order of preference seem to choose those filled with peanuts, then fat balls, then sunflower seeds. Here are a couple squabbling over said fat balls:

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I was tempted to put speech bubbles on this one. What do you think they are saying/shouting to each other?

And here is a general shot along the front of the pergola where the bird feeders are hung. See how convenient the wisteria is for quick access to the nuts or for private retreat to chew on retrieved seed. Notice how the blue tits are everywhere … except for that one on the left filled with wild bird food! I bought that when I couldn’t get hold of sunflower seeds and it has not proved not popular. Hardly anything eats the mix from the dispenser, apart from occasional robins and dunnocks.

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When the mixture is spread on the ground or table it is a different matter though.  This fine pheasant is happy to clear up dropped wild bird mix any time.

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And then I noticed another visitor chowing down on the stuff that Steve had spilled on the table top.

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P.S. We don’t own a cat and I typically discourage this one so that the birds are safer.

It didn’t last long after that (the wild bird mixture, not the cat)!

I am joining with Tina @mygardenersays in celebrating Wildlife Wednesday. Check out her wonderful post on Butter Butts (I am not joking. Go look!) and check the comments section for further wildlife stories.

About Frogend_dweller

Living in the damp middle of nowhere
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10 Responses to Trapeze artists … and other high wire performers

  1. Tina says:

    Great shots! Your birds are so pretty–are they all year-rounders, or are some migratory, winter visitors? As for the two who look like they’re chatting, I thought maybe they’re going in for a nice kiss! 🙂

    • Yes, they are all all year-rounders. A lot of our normal winter visitors have been absent or scarce this year, as they have had no need to travel for food. We’ve not had the cold or snow :(. A kiss? What an optimist you are 🙂

  2. Eliza Waters says:

    Lots of activity! I love watching birds at our feeders. They cheer us no end in winter. My caption would be: “Back off! I got here first, so mind the queue.” 😉

  3. Great photos! I have a very odd greenfinch/ goldfinch at the moment who has the head of a greenfinch and the distinctive black and white tail of the goldfinch. I think it must be a hybrid!

  4. shoreacres says:

    I’m sitting here watching my house finches and chickadees having a last, late afternoon snack of sunflower seed and peanuts, with the squirrels supervising. The finches finally are starting to come to the tube feeder rather than the platform feeders. Part of that probably has to do with an increasing number of birds. I had only a few when the feeders went up a month or so ago, but the word is getting around.

    The thrill this week was the right-on-time arrival of the swallows. They like to hang out around the boats, and nest under the floating docks. Their twittering is so cheerful!

    • How wonderful to see the return of swallows already. It is usually the beginning of April here. Enjoy! I think that it is very interesting to figure out the subtle preferences of the local bird population in terms of feeder shape and form, their location and the food types favoured.

  5. susurrus says:

    It’s not easy to discourage cats. I thought that the blue tit on the right seems to be saying ‘Give me a kiss’ too, but the one on the left doesn’t seem keen.

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