[Tweeters] greetings from norway! (somewhat longish)

Devorah the Ornithologist birdologist at gmail.com
Thu Jun 1 01:52:56 PDT 2017


hello everyone,

although some of you may still remember me from when i lived in seattle and
birded the montlake fill daily, i have since relocated to a number of
places. my latest (and probably last) major relocation has been to norway,
where i live halfway up the coast on the Norwegian Sea, on the fjords, and
my kitchen window faces north -- now if only the northern lights would
occur when the sky is clear!

i just thought you might enjoy reading about some of the birds i get at my
bird feeders, especially since many of them are quite different from those
that were regular visitors in seattle, where i lived near the WPZ.

after living on the 13th floor of the tallest building in frankfurt germany
for years (and before that, in manhattan) -- neither place was where birds
would venture -- i now live in a house with a garden and wide decks near a
small town. the house is located on the side of a rather steep wooded hill
with several creeks.

i have installed a bunch of bird feeders outside my windows on the railing
of my deck, where i always provide a large quantity of peanuts in a mesh
bag, black-striped sunflower seeds (in shell) in a tube feeder, and suet
balls coated with peanut hearts in a suet "cage" feeder. i put out dried
cat food on the top of the deck railing every morning for "my" Eurasian
magpies (Pica pica) -- at least one family group, and likely two, are
regular visitors -- and hooded crows (Corvus cornix). i also put out
leftover seeds from my flock of captive birds that i breed -- this is a mix
of four or five sorts of millet, niger, rapeseed, oats, popcorn, peanuts,
sunflower and safflower as well as small pellets. i feed this leftover seed
on the "floor" of my deck in a very large flat dish (a plant pot drain
tray), which attracts a large variety of birds.

i am contemplating what other food items i can offer "my" birds -- i have a
mealworm ranch that i cultivate to feed to my flock of captive songbirds,
and since mealworms are prolific after they become established, i am trying
to mastermind a method for feeding mealworms to my birds. suggestions, if
you have any, are welcome.

my most common visitors are Eurasian blue tits (Cyanistes caeruleus). these
tiny but incredibly curious and bold birds were the first to discover my
feeder, in fact, within hours of me placing it on my deck in front of my
windows. i also get great tits (Parus major), which are noticeably larger
than their blue cousins, but which have surprisingly different feeding
habits from them -- great tits tend to feed father down than blue tits,
which tend to feed high up in trees. in contrast, i often spy great tits
feeding on the ground or within a foot of the ground, especially inside my
hedges.

i also get house sparrows (Passer domesticus) and Eurasian tree sparrows
(Passer montanus). i still am not quite sure how to distinguish females of
these two species, especially at on a quick glance, but the tree sparrows
are much more cautious than house sparrows, so i assume, at this point,
that a flighty female is probably a tree sparrow.

recently, i have been getting European greenfinches (Chloris chloris),
Eurasian siskins (Spinus spinus), and on one particularly grey and snowy
morning roughly a month ago, a male yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella)
showed up. this gorgeous bird was as brilliantly coloured as any yellow
warbler, and, seen against the grey sky and white snow, he emblazoned an
especially singular memory into my mind's eye. unfortunately, he departed
after a meal about half an hour later, and i've never seen him again.

my magpies are absolutely a delight. i realise many people don't much like
them because they eat other birds' eggs and chicks, but i love watching
their "baggy white pants" swagger as they parade around on the deck in
their white-tie attire, searching for anything edible. they come for the
cat food, which they pack away in their throats and beaks to cache
elsewhere, but they return and eat anything else -- a variety of seeds and
peanuts -- and they also are unabashed in their desire for suet -- hanging
upside down by their feet and in a wide variety of other undignified poses
in their quest to bite off large chunks. something about magpies makes me
think they've got a sense of humour. and their size ... ! these guys dwarf
my congo grey parrots in size (my congo greys weight roughly 425 grams
each), and these parrots are substantially large birds in their own right.

and whilst i am writing this, a magpie was hanging by its beak from the bag
of peanuts. the bird's weight caused the bag to break and fall, scattering
roughly 2 cups' worth of peanuts all over the deck. i swear, the magpie,
who flew off into my willow tree to make sure the danger was over, sat in
the branches and laughed in triumph. now, a few minutes later, there's now
a huge bird feeding frenzy on my deck. guess it's time to buy more peanuts.

in contrast to the magpies, the crows have only recently started showing up
at my feeders. these crows are everywhere (reminiscent of seattle,
actually, although their markings are different) but they are far less
outgoing than their magpie cousins. i am hoping they'll gain confidence and
become frequent visitors to my humble abode.

last weekend, a great spotted woodpecker (or more than one at separate
times?) arrived at my feeder and -- surprisingly -- ignored the suet but
absolutely *pulverised* the peanut bag. this bird (or this bird and its
friends) ended up eating a huge amount of peanuts in the course of just a
couple days, before disappearing. i replaced the peanut bag with a new one
that's bulging with peanuts this morning, so i am hoping they'll return.

there also is a Eurasian kestrel (falco tinnunculus) that seems to live
around the side of a house across the street. i see it bomb-diving my birds
on occasion, but it disappears, always following the same route, before
anyone gets hurt.

i am still searching through boxes for my binoculars, and am hopeful that
i'll discover them in time for when "my" birds bring their children around
to visit my feeders.

cheers,

--
GrrlScientist | @GrrlScientist <https://twitter.com/GrrlScientist>
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