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

johntubbs at comcast.net johntubbs at comcast.net
Thu Nov 25 11:40:42 PST 2010

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


----- Original Message -----
From: "BobnBernie" <bobnbernie at comcast.net>
To: "tweeters tweeters" <tweeters at u.washington.edu>
Sent: Thursday, November 25, 2010 10:33:59 AM
Subject: [Tweeters] Thrush, Anna's and High country hairy.

We have been supplying food for over 25 years in a semi rural area with a mix of woods, fields and a small lake not far from the Cedar River. Some of the neighboring homes are over 50 years old with vegetation to match. We are just over 600 and far from any large body of water to buffer the cold.

We get a wide variety of birds but only see Varied Thrush at times like this. Several days of below freezing and/or the ground covered with snow. We assumed that condition made it harder for them to find their normal fair. Typically it is one or two at a time. As soon as the ground thaws or the snow melts, they leave.

Seven years ago we had a situation like John only we had between 15-20 at one time for a couple of days. What a treat that was. We had bought some small suet balls on closeout not thinking how we would use it. We put some on the ground along with seed and they readily accepted it.

As soon as the snow melted, they were gone, making us wonder where that many came from and where they normally inhabit that we don't see them for months at a time. 

We have seen none this year. Hopefully we will before the snow melts.

For a long time we didn't realize there is a difference between the coast Hairy and the ones in the east. Couldn't understand why our birds didn't looked as clean, bright white as pictures posted on national bird sites until someone on this list mentioned the color difference. We have at least 1 pair of whiter birds at this time. One of our downy seems whiter as well. Is that a possibility? Birds of the Puget Sound Region only mentions Hairy.

We have at least 3 Anna's. We use flat saucer type feeders as mentioned by Dennis. We are home to tend them so we haven't tried to warm them. Ours hang below the eves near the house where some warm air is trapped. One is on the ease side and one on the west. That almost eliminates the wind chill for birds and the liquid on one of the feeders if we have wind. One is almost always on the lee side in stiller air.

We decided on the saucer type feeders years ago just for the ease of cleaning. After the change we noticed they remained useable longer than the vertical bottle types in freezing weather. Especially the ones with the small, bottle type neck, which freezes first rendering the liquid above trapped. The saucer types have a dead air space across the top which serves as insulation. They have to freeze from the bottom up and the edge in leaving the area where the birds feed to freeze last. 

We change to a 3-1 mix when the temps drop below 30.    

Bob & Bernie Meyer
BobnBernie at comcast.net


Tweeters mailing list
Tweeters at u.washington.edu
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: http://mailman2.u.washington.edu/pipermail/tweeters/attachments/20101125/ae036f92/attachment.html

More information about the Tweeters mailing list