A month ago — October — these birds were fledglings with bits of baby feathers sticking out of their almost grown up feathers. It’s just about a month later and the birds are all full grown and eating like crazy. From scrawny just-out-of-the-nestlings to big, fat, healthy birds. The Hairy and Downy woodpeckers are full-grown and even the red squirrels are full grown. Nature doesn’t give long childhoods to wild things. They have to get their adult legs under them fast. I think only humans and maybe whales and dolphins have a real childhood and a sustained period between being born and giving birth.
The birds do it in a lot less than a year and the squirrels in about the same brief period. With freezing temperatures at night nipping at them, they are eating as much as they can, putting on a protective layer of fat to keep them warm when the north wind blows. Of course, our local birds will always have food to eat because we feed them, but nature has designed their schedule. I’m always please to see well-rounded squirrels and birds. I feel like I’m doing my job.
I haven’t been taking a lot of bird pictures lately, but that doesn’t mean I’m not watching the birds and taking a few pictures. I’m always watching the birds and the other creatures. The first thing I do when I wake in the morning — even if I’m planning to go back to sleep — is look out the window to see if there’s enough food for everyone. Then I count to see how many of what are chowing down on the deck. This morning there was a mad flurry of squirrels and little birds. Nuthatches, Tufted Titmice, Downy Woodpeckers, Carolina Wrens who seem to have decided to not migrate. Food supply is pretty good around these parts — and it doesn’t get as cold as it used to.
The squirrels are storing goodies because they sort of hibernate. It’s not a full hibernation, not like bears, for example. But they do sleep through much of the winter and count on their stashes of provisions and if that doesn’t work out (“Where did I leave those nuts and seeds?”), they know where the feeders are.