Posted by: atowhee | November 29, 2020


Here is report on happenings around the quiet, rural home of my friend Marieannette McCabe, near Ashland. Just over 2000′ in elevation.

It is totally frosty here today and cold, cold, cold………..What is all that traffic I hear racing around? Americans are such a rambunctious bunch! CANNOT sit still, the buggers! Sunday is usually very quiet, but not today – even with covid……Well, they are just nuts, except for Elizabeth who is going to Grants’ Pass this morning to pick up her new puppy, Alexander……..She is out there for a great reason!

I awoke late today and the quail were not happy about it as they have to hang out on the patio, in the cold, until I notice them. When I slowly open the door to toss their shelled sunflower seeds, they scurry to the end so as not to get hit on the head with it……. What? You are scared of “manna from heaven”? Quail are VERY, very cautious birds. When they are in the area, they show up at breakfast and dinner, but will all take off at once if just one senses danger. There are a dozen this year……….so far…I always count….cannot resist the habit and the hope that they are all still here. Here is a female full of seeds, but still stuck in the cold.

Then there is Johnny One-Note the California towhee who has MAM trained. He likes big, shelled peanuts. He gets her attention by walking around the top step near the patio door. When she approaches, he flies four feet to the edge of the patio (now getting hit with a peanut rather than a small sunflower seed can give one a headache), turns around to watch her and waits until the peanut comes flying toward him. A peanut can take strange hops, but he will follow it with the sharpest of eyes….. We do this several times a day. Other times I just toss food out for all during the day.

Another peanut and suet lover is this male flicker. All the birds scatter when he hits the peanut log, which is really reserved for the downy woodpecker couple, oak titmice and chickadees. Believe it or not, he is so long that getting into position to gobble the suet, his favorite, is difficult for him. But he is tenacious when it comes to delectable suet. (I just pound peanuts in a plastic bag and mix with peanut butter).

See how he uses his strong tail to keep him in position? It is a vital appendage for woodpeckers especially when they are beating the heck out  of their heads drumming. Just would not work without it……

I love all the birds, but it is somehow a super-special delight when a flock of bushtits come by. They have soft, sweet chirps and are all fluff – and politeness. They never fight over the food, yet, they only stay for less than a minute which is not nearly enough time for all to get their fill in a flock of over a dozen birds. I have not figured this out yet given all the delicious suet (store bought with peanuts, fruit, etc.) at their feet. Do they fear predators? Or maybe that is the limit of store-bought food and they fly back for more of the natural food and places they are used to? It is their secret so far……..Maybe you know…

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