It’s been an interesting few days in the winter garden. We’ve had some respite from the falling snow, and even some lovely sunshine which made the snow sparkle and put a smile on my face.
Over the weekend we picked up some fresh finch food and a bag of pre-shelled sunflower and peanut mix. I had to dig a tunnel with my little red shovel to reach the hanging feeder (see “Snow on Snow” for image). It was partially filled with as yet untouched black oil sunflower seed. I dumped this out onto the icy birdbath that sits in the middle of my deck. The red feeder is now holding about 2 cups of the new mix, but nobody has shown any interest.
Conversely, the black oil seed on the birdbath has been a big hit. So much is this the case, that we now have some new regulars who have been giving the juncos a bit of competition. Mind you, the juncos know how to handle them. In fact, they’re not even that gracious with their own when it comes to getting food down their tiny gullets. It’s a bit like a bumper-car ride out there most of the time. They collide with each other in an effort to get the choice seeds and within seconds the bumped one hops back into the fray! The newcomers, who are a pair of lively little chipping sparrows, do not seem too disconcerted by this. Rather, they have adapted to the game almost instantly, often winning out.
It just keeps coming. We had a bit of a reprieve yesterday, but it snowed again overnight and a light powder is falling as I write this.
At 7:30 a.m., I dragged myself out of bed, put on my winter gear and went outside to shovel the deck. It was about a foot deep and my small red shovel was really no match for it.
Almost right away, the juncos started making noises as if from the ether. I could hear their cheeping in the distance and when I looked up, a trio of them were in the Ash and the Chokecherry trees.
I spoke to them in a hushed voice, yet they still hesitated to come any closer. They seemed quite perturbed that I was in their domain. Little do they know that I’m setting it up for them.
Yesterday, one of them discovered the silo feeder I had stashed in the corner of the deck by the wall. Though they are exclusively ground feeders, juncos will, apparently, eat from a feeder if it is placed on the ground. Who knew? A few of them were pretty happy to have this new food resource, while others jockeyed for position in and around the bunker.
Things are hopping around here! I counted seven of them yesterday.
(By the way, if I have a heart attack while shoveling, this blog may not get off the ground.:))
Weather-wise, yesterday was a brutal day. Winds were high, snow was blowing, but my junco buddies were undaunted. These tough little birds just kept coming back, to dig furiously with their little back feet until the snow gave way beneath them to reveal the tiny specks of seed.
I donned my parka, hat, scarf, gloves and winter boots, to slip out the sliding doors with my cup of bird-food, not once, but three times. I had shoveled the deck as much as I could first thing in the morning, but the storm forced me to keep clearing space for the juncos, so they could land and dig.
Today, I cleared the deck at 7:00 a.m. The whole time, I could hear the peeps from a neighbour’s tree where a bundle of them were patiently waiting for me to finish. As soon as I grabbed my shovel and went back inside, six or seven of them landed in the bare willows off the deck and began to alight on the snow to feed.
The sun has been out sporadically today which has been a delight and my friends have been coming and going on and off. I am gratified.