[Tweeters] Hand Fed Birds

jeff gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Thu Sep 18 07:40:31 PDT 2008

Last August I was in southern Ontario on a family vacation and got to have a lot of 'nature time'. One of the places I visited was Hendrie Park in Burlington Ontario (about 45 min west of Toronto. The park is a very nice remnant of 'carolinian' forest - diverse plants, birds and bugs.

As soon as I entered the woods from the parking lot I was 'escorted' by several Black-capped Chickadees, soon joined by a pair of Blue Jays ( a bird I'd found to be fairly shy in the past). And then joined by an Eastern Chipmunk and several Eastern Grey Squirrels (most here were the all black variety). Soon I passed a large platform bird feeder which was empty so I figured my 'entourage' would fall off when I did'nt fill their feeder.

I was surprised when the birds stuck with me down the trail - for a quarter mile or so ! White Breasted Nuthatches also came and went but the chickadees especially stuck to me like glue - if I stopped for a moment they just about landed on my head. It was a wee bit creepy - being stalked by birds, even little chickadees. Eventually the chickadees fell off but several times later I was again closely escorted by chickadees out in the woods.

Of course all this tame behavior was because of the local culture of hand feeding birds there - I later met a woman along the trail doling out food from her bag. A few day later my wife and daughter had chickadees eating out of their hands.

As for Grey Jays - once atop Walker Mnt (a tall olympic foothill above Hood Canal) on a cold March day I was darn near mobbed by a small flock of Grey Jays when I walked up to the overlook. I happened to have some trail mix so I attemped to hand feed them and did get several to land on my hand. But what was really interesting was one individual jay - it was just 'different' than the others, very very aggressive , not shy about getting the food at all, in fact almost 'demanding' it. It had a strange gleam in its eye. Maybe it was starving more than the others, but seemed to have twice the energy as the others. A strange bird.

Jeff Gibson Everett Wa

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