Scanning Bird Feeders Pays Off With Personal Rewar

Submitted by Art & Barb Straub

No, one cannot spend all of one’s time checking on who’s who at the bird feeding station, but peeking out from time to time can yield surprises. Perhaps the best time would be immediately after distributing the first vittles of the day? Hungry birds will swarm after the sunflower seeds, peanuts, meal worms, suet, etc. Recall the adage, “The early bird gets the unlucky worm!”

A faithful feeder, a Hendersonite, experienced a thrill of a birder’s life-time in mid-November. A bird which one doesn’t often observe popped down on the abundant peanuts and sunflower seeds in her bird feeder and proceeded to help itself. First glance would have called the bird a wee chickadee, as the creature exhibited quick acrobatic flights, but then the blue topnotch gave its nomenclature away. Smaller than a familiar blue jay, but exhibiting similar blue colors, the astute birder grabbed her ever-handy camera, and shot away at the semi-tame little bundle of feathers. One can’t imagine the excitement that surged through the observer’s body! Kazam! A Tufted titmouse had made its presence known. We won’t reveal to whom nor where this exciting event occurred, as we are concerned that other birders, anxious to glimpse the treasure, would wear a path to the front door, or cars full of strangers would beset the family, which lives a calm unassuming life in Henderson’s fair city.

A titmouse has black sparkling sharp eyes, the better to see one with, is able to hang upside down on small branches while pursuing insects and insect larva during spring and summer. Titmice have an interesting alarm call, “Peter, Peter, Peter,” a call that echoes through the woods. We’ve seen just one in our entire lifetime!

You can’t mistake the titmouse for the much larger blue jay, although both are busy at feeders these days. Blue jays have interesting habits, one is that of ‘caching’ their food; that is, returning again and again to pluck peanuts in the shell from the feeder, carrying many edibles at a time in their distensible esophagus, and hiding the treasures from squirrels and other birds. Once upon a time we disliked bluejays due to their rude and feisty behavior at feeders, pecking at other birds. Now we consider them to be saviors of many another bird, as they sound the alarm when sharp-shinned or Cooper hawks appear, scattering unsuspecting birds…sending woodpeckers to hiding behind tree limbs and other birds into the safety of bushes. Like other members of the corrida family, jays are highly intelligent, even weighing one peanut against another as to which has the larger nut enclosed.

Wild turkeys were feeding voraciously along East Henderson Station Road beneath oak trees Saturday afternoon. Thirty-one were counted in a single large flock, thus we wondered about the weather ahead. However, the day was spoiled by a scene at Bucks’ Lake.
One is used to small flocks of eagles migrating in the Bucks’ Lake area, but Friday, November 17th, found 21 perched on two large cottonwood trees on the East bank, 9:00 a.m. An unusual sight. What could be the attraction? We’d send a photo, but the bloody sight was too gory. Twenty-feet south of the Schneider landing at Bucks’s lies the semi-submerged body of a skinned-out deer. It appeared that someone/s had cut the rear quarters from the carcass, rolled the remains down the bank to the lake where passerby’s on Highway #93 would be oblivious to the carnage. We assume that this case of wanton waste attracted the regal eagles? Tough to think pleasant thoughts about humans sometimes, however, A GREAT TURKEY DAY TO ALL!! Congratulations to the titmouse tamer! P.S. The plural of ‘titmouse’ IS ‘titmice.’