Ducks and more

>> Monday, April 2, 2007

We are visited regularly by Mallards coming to eat the sunflower seeds that drop from the bird feeders I have them hanging from our Apple and Cherry trees.

During Winter months I also spread cracked corn to feed the Dark-eyed Juncos and Mourning Doves.

There is a canal about 1/2 mile from here where the ducks hang out and I guess the ducks don't find their regular food source in Winter so they come here. It's pretty funny to watch them waddle down the street out front visiting each yard.

I see them mostly in pairs of one female and one male. Occasionally, another male will get the idea that he wants the female and he begins chasing them around. Or maybe he is just protecting a pile of cracked corn I left for them.

One thing I find really funny is watching them land. They are so graceful on water, but on land they have their feet stretched out in front as usual and when they hit the ground they almost topple over onto their beaks. They quickly recover and then stand there looking around as if to see if anyone caught them looking silly.

When we have gone to the canal to feed them with our grandkids they all come running expecting some treat. But when they are in the back yard they keep a wary eye on me and stay to the other side of the yard. If I get too close they just take off.

They say that the ducks are migratory and every Fall I see a lot of them in the sky heading South along with the Canadian Geese. There is a group that elect to stay here and I can't understand why they wouldn't go to a warmer climate with all the others.

Haven't seen the Juncos or Flickers recently. They have all been here all winter, maybe they found their natural food source has returned. Now that I think about, I don't see Black-capped chickadees much either.

The Finches and Starlings are always here. The Finches are the ones that eat so much sunflower seed and make the mess under the feeders. As long as the Ducks eat up the seed mess I don't mind at all. There are purple finches, goldfinches and house finches and are definitely the most common of all the visitors. And boy are they noisy. When the Starlings are on the suet feeders they get pretty rowdy too. It's nice to hear their songs and voices all through Winter though.

I saw a Coopers Hawk this morning sitting in the Apple tree, about three feet from the bird feeder on the same branch. And I didn't see one finch anywhere.

The hawk sat stone still in the Apple tree for about 30 minutes keeping an eye on the feeders in the Cherry tree about 60 feet away. Slowly finches were coming to the feeders in the Cherry tree and when there were about 10 or 12, the hawk shot out of the Apple tree towards the Cherry tree and snagged a finch from one of the lower branches.

The hawk then landed on a fence post about 10 feet past the Cherry tree and began plucking the feathers off of it and ate it. It was pretty thrilling to see the hawk in action, not many people get to see that. Unfortunately for the finch he didn't enjoy it as much as I did. But, it is part of the circle of life.


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