SOME OF THE LAST OF THE BIRDS – Marilyn Armstrong

They are not the very last. We’ll put the feeder back up in November when the weather begins to get cold. And I have a lot of folders of birds with a fair number of unprocessed photographs. But now, it’s time for our cohort of squirrels to go back to the forest and rediscover the joy of squirreldom.

This morning I went out on the deck and there were half a dozen of them. Two in the feeders, another couple on the railing, and a few on the deck itself. I suppose they were all awaiting their turn. I finally went out onto the deck and physically ejected them. They apparently believe it’s their personal stash of goodies and are protecting it from humans and birds.

If I didn’t think Duke would jump the fence and break all his bones on the way down, I’d put him out there to guard the stash. Sadly, he is a jumper and Gibbs mostly wants lots of time spent napping on the sofa. Chasing squirrels is not high on his agenda.

And, I should add, with considerable determination.

Lady Cardinal in a tree
Rosefinch and Cowbird
Rosefinch on the rail
Possibly pregnant squirrel?

Now that I look at the pictures I realize I have more of them. Possibly a lot more of them. So you’ll see more. I have to process more of them too.

SOMETIMES, THE SQUIRRELS LET THE BIRDS EAT SOMETHING – Marilyn Armstrong

It seems that the more I try and discuss the eating all the food situation with the squirrels, the more squirrels show up. It used to be one at a time. Not the same squirrel each time, but it was a definite group. I could tell by the scars in their fur and the shape of their tails.

A cowbird a day keeps the finches away! And we have a lot more than one.

Now, we have two babies — about half the size of the bigger gray ones. I have to assume the big ones are their parents. Or maybe aunts and uncles. hard to tell.

This is young lady Cardinal, sprucing up her feathers because there are a couple of boys down in the bushes.
Still preening!

I’m pretty sure they’ve been told to come here, that this is where the good food is. And it seems that the more I talk to them, the less afraid they are. Maybe because I’m so polite?

Awaiting her beau

On the other hand, The Duke goes completely wacko when he sees two, three, four squirrels on the porch and when he gets to barking frantically, the squirrels tend to get a bit hinky and move elsewhere for a while.

The Mourning Dove just watches, but they are quite romantic these days, too.
Ah, romance …

But people? They just eyeball us. I swear this morning I looked on the deck and in the spot where we used to keep the stone frog (I moved it because the squirrels kept knocking it down), there was a little squirrel. Sun-bathing.

Waiting and watching in her tree …

Another was literally lounging on the deck. Relaxed, just lying there. He looked up when I said: “Good morning, young squirrel. How’s it going? Enjoying the sunshine?”

Wooing Cardinals on the deck!

He looked at me, stretched, yawned, jumped up on the railing, then grabbed the feeder and wrapped himself around it.

Meanwhile, there were a couple of Cardinals looking very lovey-dovey on the deck.

The young Cardinal

Lady Cardinal decided to go flying and right after her, flew a young red boy. Literally, right on her tail. I knew he was young because he didn’t have his full coloration. Immediately behind him flew an apparently eager, bigger, redder male.

All three birds headed into the woods at high speed. I couldn’t see them anymore, but I could hear squawking as the two males attacked each other. When those red males meet, they always fight. Very territorial — and there was a young lady involved.

Boys will be boys, even when they have bright red feathers.

Squirrely!

SQUIRREL DU JOUR – Marilyn Armstrong

The little squirrel that seems to live on our deck (I found him lying on the deck sunning himself yesterday) is not afraid of me. Or the dogs. Or Garry.

I know he’s a baby because he’s about half the size of a normal adult squirrel. I bet he’s one of the offspring of the other big feeders. As he was growing up, mom told him where to go to get his meals.

He hangs on the feeder or does a wild swing on the flat feeder. He’s too short to quite hop into the flat feeder like the bigger squirrels do, so he has to take a long leap. The wild swings of the feeder as he enters and exits make it really obvious who has been by.

He’s a very cute little thing. I’m often torn between letting him eat so I can get some more pictures, or asking him politely (I always say “Please” when I discuss his visits with him) to move on.

He doesn’t really leave. He just hangs around on the stairs, or right under the deck until he thinks I’m gone, then he is right back up.

Garry says they have a whole station set up right under the deck. This does not surprise me. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were using drones to check for fresh food.

COMMONALITY – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Common

“Common” is a work frequently used with birds, even though sometimes the bird for which they are using it aren’t all that common. Maybe back when they got their names, they were common. It’s used for all kind of animals, actually. And plants.

Only people use it to mean “rabble.”

A very commond squirrel!

“Common squirrel,” for example. Which means whatever kind of squirrel is common in the area in which you happen to live. Red in England and some parts of the U.S. (but it isn’t the same red squirrel). Gray around these parts.

Three common pigeons
A common Mourning Dove

Common pigeon (but some pigeons are more common than others). Common grackles, common Blue Jays, common Robins (but the British Robin is a different bird than American ones, but still common). Common herons except a little different, depending on where you live.

Common Goldfinches

I’m always amused when it’s used in some movies to mean “not royal or royal or upper-class.” All it means is “typical or frequently seen.”

A common Great Blue Heron

We are all typical and thus common. We have the same number of arms, legs, eyes, head, and general body type. Strip away the clothing and we are all common. Take away the castle and put that person in a standard suburban sub-division and they are just as common as everyone else except maybe they talk funny.

Common kids by a common river

Last night we were watching “Proven Innocent” and some “upper upper” lady looked at someone else and said, “Your people are common.” What did she think her people were? Did they have three legs and one eye in the middle of their forehead? THAT would be most uncommon.

Everyone and everything else is common.

THE CRASHING SQUIRREL – Marilyn Armstrong

I’ve been going eyeball to eyeball with our local squirrels. First, I thought we had just a few squirrels, but lately, I realize we have all of them. The entire woods full of squirrels are part of our world.

Our fearless deck squirrel

They all come, hang around, decide they need to wrap themselves around the feeder and suck the seeds out of it. Garry fills the feeder in the evening and by the following morning, more than half of it — about 3 pounds of seeds — are gone.

Another snack

They used to get spooked when I tapped on the window. Then they only got twitchy if I opened a window and yelled at them. Eventually, that didn’t work either. Now, I have to actually go out on the deck and they sit there, on the rail, staring me in the eye. I’m pretty sure that eventually, I’m going to have to physically remove them. By hand. I’m not looking forward to that. I have a feeling these little guys bite.

It isn’t that I mind them having a meal. I mind them eating everything and never stopping. How can such small furry creatures eat so much and so often? It seems to me that their appetites are never satiated. There’s no such thing as enough … or if there is, there’s another one waiting on the rail to take over.

I have come to recognize some of them by their scars, by the colors of their tails, by their size.

This morning, our midday squirrel was back. I know they are supposed to be crepuscular — feeding early in the morning and just before the sun sets. But this one likes noon. Just about as I’m setting up the coffee, he’s hanging on the feeder.

Squirrel on the rail

So I opened the top of the Dutch door and said: “We’ve had this discussion before. It’s time for you to go home to your trees. Eat acorns. Find plants to chew.” He looked at me. I’m pretty sure he smirked at me, too.

I reminded him that I was getting weary of this conversation. I could see him thinking. “Shall I buzz off or shall I jump into that flat feeder? Hmm.”

Taking that fatal leap!

Finally, he decided I was NOT a force to be reckoned with and he launched himself into the flat feeder. But this once, the flat feeder fought back and tipped sideways.

Tail end of the crashing squirrel

All the seeds spilled down to the ground below along with the squirrel. I nearly caught the shot on his way down, but all I got was the fuzzy tip of his tail as he fell to the ground. Which wasn’t so bad because he landed in the forsythia bush, then on the ground where there were pounds of seeds he was now free to eat.

You’d think that would be enough, wouldn’t you? Surely humiliation would stop him from further depredations.

You would be wrong. In fewer than five minutes, he was back on the rail.

I had to go out and forcefully explain that it was past feeding time and he was going to let the birds have a go at the feeder. They sit in the nearby tree limbs, waiting for the squirrels to move on and for some reason, they seem to know I’m yelling at the squirrel — not them. How they knew this, I have no idea.

The young Cardinal

I ultimately convinced him to go travel amongst the trees and give the birds time at the feeder. The first arrivals were a couple of Cowbirds, a few Goldfinches, and a big Red-Bellied Woodpecker plus a young Cardinal. I actually got some pictures.

Cowbirds

I’m sure he was back as soon as we left to go to my son’s birthday party because when we came home, the hanging feeder was nearly empty. We are running out of seeds and have run out of money, so everyone is just going to have to survive on their own for a while.

THE DAILY BIRDS – Marilyn Armstrong

The squirrels and I are quarreling. I am a believer that the hungry should be allowed to eat and I quite like our squirrels. I can actually recognize them, usually by the size and coloration of their tails.

The problem is, there seem to be a great many of them and we seem to be the only open buffet in the region … or maybe we just serve a better quality of seeds.

Every morning, when I first get up I open the shades and look at the feeders. There are always two squirrels wrapped around the hanging feeder and nestled happily inside the flat feeder. I leave them be. They are free to chow down until I get up for the day … about 4 or 5 hours later.

A crowd of cowbirds
More Cowbirds!
Very handsome Cowbird!

But that’s it. After 11 in the morning, when I’m having my coffee, I open my back door and tell them it’s time to get off the feeder and find food in the forest. They don’t even move. Apparently, I am no longer a threatening presence. Finally, after I talk to them for a while and they refuse to move, I open the door and walk towards the feeders and then they slowly detach and climb down the railing to the deck.

Goldfinch in the rain
Rain does not bother him
There were other Goldfinches on the other side of the feeder too

I can see them lurking just below the fence, so I go out again, look them in the eye and say: “I SEE you. You’ve had your time in the feeders. Now you have to let the birds eat too.”

I go back to the house and they are back on the feeders. I repeat the performance, only this time, I stand on the deck. Each time they peak over the edge of the deck I tell them: “I said it was time to go. Now, beat it buster.”

Sharing the feeder – Lady Cardinal and Downy Woodpecker

Each time one of them leaves, a dozen birds hit the feeder because they’ve been waiting in the trees. They aren’t afraid of me anymore. They seem to know I’m talking to the squirrels.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

How they know this, I have no idea, but they don’t skedaddle. I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to go and physically remove the squirrels one of these mornings. I really don’t mind them eating, but they can’t eat all the food I put out and that’s what they are doing. I can’t afford twenty pounds of seeds a week.

Carolina Wren

It’s like when you go for breakfast with a friend and you get to chatting. No one minds because it’s early, but as lunchtime rolls around, the waiters start giving you the eye. There are no more refills for your coffee.

He’s back!

I don’t think my squirrels have been eating out recently. They don’t have good restaurant manners.

THE CUTE FACTOR IN BLACK & WHITE – Marilyn Armstrong

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Cute Factor

I’ve got a lot of cute pictures recently. I have entire SD cards full of cuteness I haven’t had the time to process, so this was an interesting process. Two pictures I definitely wanted … but the rest? Squirrels being incredibly cute all the time and a variety of birds doing funny birdy stuff.

Anyway, this is what I decided on. Mostly because these had the best contrast or texture or something.

My favorite. This is the cutest little Tufted Titmouse I think I’ve ever seen
Two chubby Doves nesting in the seeds and not leaving until they feel well fed
This little squirrel has become really hard to convince he should leave. He moves in the middle of the day, shoos the birds off the feeder and hangs on for dear life

This little squirrel is not afraid of anything, although I think he really should be. I finally had to go outside and walk up to the feeder and explain to him that he’d been there for hours and it was time to let some of the other kids have a seed. He would just hop onto the nearest branch, wait for me to go back inside, they hop back on the feeder.

Same squirrel. Back again.
Two little birds, sitting on the feeder. The fuzzy one is molting.

I finally went and stood there and every time his/her little head popped up I would say — just like I talk to the dogs — “No. I said you have to leave now. I wasn’t kidding. No, get back down. You have to go find other food now.” He kept popping up, like a little furry jack-in-the-box. But cute? Absolutely. He really should be more careful, though. He is not careful and he doesn’t watch for the Hawks.