With Tam having got herself into the hobby of bird-feeding, we are both in the habit of glancing out the kitchen window to see what's happening at the feeder
One of the better sights is a squirrel sliding down the feeder pole backwards from the anti-rodent device with a disappointed expression. It's the most effective stop I have seen: a large-diameter tube concentric with the feeder support pole, closed at the top and open at the bottom. Just large enough to fit a squirrel, too long to get around, too fat to climb, and far enough off the ground that they can't leap onto it. They're welcome to glean fallen seeds under the feeder, which they do, along with the shy and speedy chipmunks. Usually all I see of the latter is a flash of red-brown and an excited, "Chip!" when I open the back door.
We found some small holes dug under the fence, into the neighbor's yard and the pile of maple stump-grindings in the side yard. Tam thought they were chipmunk burrows; I thought they were a bit large, but we weren't sure until the morning last week when a common or Norway rat was seen to slide out of the bird feeder's squirrel-thwarter. We spotted at least two different individuals over the next few days and called an exterminator, who has already set out the usual solution. (We may lose a few chipmunks; since one of the rat sightings was one of the bastards eating a mostly-dead chipmunk, we're going to call it collateral damage. Chipmunks are widespread and they will repopulate.) It's a city; there are rats. They're usually not in back yards and it may be that the decline in dining out and the richly-filled dumpsters that result has driven some of them to look elsewhere.
A more attractive and interesting sight are the cardinals. We've had a lot of them this year, the bright-red males and drabber females. They have raised quite a crop of youngsters this summer, and they're starting to arrive at the feeder, too. They're a motley-looking lot, feathers coming in every which way, the boys in a kind of junior version of their adult plumage, bits of red and brown. Accompanied by an adult, they flutter clumsily to perch on the arms of our feeder stand, looking like sulky teenagers hauled out to a grown-up restaurant. The adults gather at the feeder, winkling out choice seeds -- and then they take the seeds over to their fledglings and feed them, beak-to-beak!
The young birds haven't fully mastered flight; landing on a swinging feeder has got to be tricky, and then digging out goodies from the seedcake, well, it's a lot to ask. So Mom and Pop chivvy 'em over the feeder and bring them tasty treats, probably hoping the kid will eventually take a hint and start to figure out how to feed themselves.
I can imagine the conversation:
Ma Cardinal: "C'mon, Junior, let's fly over to Tamara's feeder and we'll bring you your favorites. Just hold onto the crossbar, you'll be safe enough..."
Fledgling: "Aww, Mooom! It's soo far! Can't I just hang out in the nest?
Pa Cardinal: "Nothing doing! And don't argue with your mother. You don't want to be a student pilot forever, do you?
Fledgling: "Awwww. ...Well, okay...."
It sure looks like that's how it goes!
BUILDING A 1:1 BALUN
5 months ago