After a month of very little bird activity around the yard, things have picked up in a big way this week- especially around our new bird feeder that my son made at school last year. A definite “pecking” order is obvious- at the top are the Steller’s and Scrub Jays. When they show up, everyone else clears out.
Once the jays leave, the Red-breasted Nuthatches move in.
They grab their seeds and then fly away to a nearby tree. According to The Sibley Guide to Bird Life & Behavior, nuthatches sometimes jam the seeds into a crevice in a tree trunk and then open it by pounding on it with their beak. They also forage up and down trees looking for bugs hidden in the trunks. Sometimes when foraging down the tree they are actually upside down. Makes me dizzy thinking about it.
After the nuthatches, the chickadees had their turn. Interestingly, there were two different groups of chickadees and one was definitely dominant over the other. The group with more members was able to chase the smaller group away. But, in the end, there was plenty of food to go around and everyone had their share. Even a squirrel got some leftovers that fell to the ground, although it ran away when the Steller’s Jays came back.
Not all of the birds in the yard were using the feeder though.
This Brown Creeper was nearby, but it wasn’t interested in the seeds. It constantly walked up the tree trunks looking for insects. Once it reached a certain point, it flew back down to the bottom and started climbing again. Take a good look at the tree trunk. There are a lot of holes and crevices for insects to hide in. If I ate insects, I’d look for food there too!
The Smithsonian Field Guide to the Birds of North America by Ted Floyd says that these different birds- nuthatches, chickadees, and creepers- are often seen flocking together looking for food. I believe it since this group was in our yard on 3 different days this week.
One more bonus bird- the picture is fuzzy, but it is definitely a Golden-Crowned Kinglet. These birds are very small, but I saw a few of them together looking for food in our neighbor’s fir tree.
Tomorrow, I’m going to load up the bird feeder again and let the birds come to me.