[Tweeters] Thrush, Anna's and High country hairy.

BobnBernie bobnbernie at comcast.net
Thu Nov 25 13:14:54 PST 2010

John, All, we observed much the same actions as you. Our feeding area is only 12' from a glass slider. We could stand just behind and watch them.

We mentioned before the conditions we had seen them previously. Most of the time we didn't see them feed. They were perching on a branch or standing under a bush giving us a frontal view most of the time. They appeared to be a much bigger bird. The light colored breast with the pronounced darker V added to that illusion.

This was the first time we saw them with their feathers relaxed instead of fluffed up to stay warm. It looked different enough to add to our lifer list. LOL


----- Original Message -----
From: johntubbs at comcast.net
To: BobnBernie
Cc: tweeters tweeters
Sent: Thursday, November 25, 2010 11:40 AM
Subject: Re: [Tweeters] Thrush, Anna's and High country hairy.

Hi Bob and Bernie and all,

Interestingly, 'my' temporary population of Varied Thrushes has continued to grow. It has hit a high of 12 in the yard at one time, and I suspect there might be as many as half a dozen more, since one or our neighbors has feeders out - and our non-feeding next-door neighbors who have begun to get curious about birds called yesterday and said '...we have three of these birds with an orange breast and a black collar outside, what are they?'

Interestingly, these birds, which normally are pretty timid when I've seen them, have become pretty bold and tolerant of my movements inside the house, visible through the window. So I decided to take advantage of this, and covered the frozen birdbath (which is all of three feet from my work location by the kitchen nook window) with seed hoping to lure several of them to there. It worked, with as many as 3 chowing down on the seed, and ignoring me if I didn't make fast movements. This provided a phenomenal opportunity to really study the birds, and I spent some time sketching them as well. Now that the melt has started, it will be interesting to see how many hang around once the snow cover is gone.

One interesting thing I noticed with the thrushes during the coldest weather was their tendency to actively feed with only one leg extended while having the other one nestled inside the contour feathers of the belly. They were quite adept at hopping around and bending down to feed with just the single leg. I have not observed this behavior during active feeding with other species (but maybe only noticed it because I was focused on the thrushes). At least some (and if I recall correctly, all...?) birds have physiology that allows them to control blood flow to each leg independently, something that makes all kinds of sense to many species. I have had a couple non-thrushes (one junco and one House Finch that I specifically remember) who had apparently injured one leg and did not use it for standing. Those two birds struggled with balance and feeding whereas with the thrushes it wasn't noticeable at all in their movement. Of course many birds roost or perch on a single leg, but I hadn't seen this before while the birds were busily feeding.

A Fox Sparrow showed up yesterday to join the normal juncos, towhees, Golden-crowned and Song Sparrows as well. We have had quail off and on in the neighborhood most of the eight years we've been here.

One other note, triggered by Brien's recent post about California Quail. Three years ago, we had a covey of 14 that made regular appearances in the yard. The coyotes probably were responsible for that number slowly dwindling until we didn't see any for a few months, then gradually heard and saw a few. For the last three or four months, there has been a pair (male and female) showing up almost every day in the yard and so far they have managed to avoid becoming dinner to the coyotes or outside cats. We are keeping fingers crossed that they weather the winter and we have a nice group of quailettes (or is it quailings?) show up in the spring.

John Tubbs

Snoqualmie, WA

johntubbs at comcast.net



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