Posted by: atowhee | January 16, 2022

GARDEN DAY, FROM GRAY TO SUN

JANUARY 16, 2022

735am  I hear the first crowing of the day, from far off.  Almost immediately the first wave of sparrow family members appear in the front garden.  Mostly juncos but also fox, song and two golden-crowns.  They feed on seed among the rose bushes.  Temp: 36, overcast.

745   Official time of sunrise, sky grows lighter, but remains gray.  Twenty or more juncos clutter the back garden on feeders and rocks where seed is scattered.

750  Sky is much lighter now, no visible birds, has accipiter arrived?

753  Small flocks of sparrow family in front, numerous juncos and the single White-throated Sparrow that is wintering here.

8   Put out peanuts and re-filled bird baths.  Corvids and sparrows fill the morning.  Crows and both jay species (only a lone Steller’s who must fly two blocks to get here from nearest conifers), plus five sparrow sp.  Junco, song, fox, golden-crowned (2), white-throat.  So far no towhee.  Zero finches, unusual.

804   Jays on suet in front and back.  Peanuts all gone already.  Juncos in back, five males first, then one female shows up.  Juncos in front joined, finally, by resident female towhee.  She scuts in, grabs seeds, vanishes back into dense shrubbery.

806  First squirrels seen.  They’ve left their leafy bower and begun the morning scratching.  Imagine how itchy to spend the night in dry leaf sac.  No linen, no cushion but lots of itch.

815  Squirrels all about.  One loves to hang from upper branches of fifteen-foot ash sapling.  Another prefers top of utility pole.

825  Whole garden given over to several squirrels and the two crows with resident ownership.  They  hardly fear me and certainly care little for accipiter or squirrel.

827   In front the Fox Sparrow races around beneath the roses.
828   Foxy is joined by two bold juncos.

830  In back Juncos, finally a quintet of finches—siskins all.  Chestnut-backed Chickadee zips on and off hanging tray.  The seedeaters can crush the sunflower chips,  while the chickadee’s beak, evolved for spider eggs and small caterpillars, cannot.  So this bird flies off with a single chip to a safe perch and holds it between toes, then uses his sharp beak to break off tinier chips to swallow.

833  While inside I hear a crow remonstrating about something it disapproves of.  They are fine journalists, facts observed, then vehemently described and a strong commentary appended to each report.  All the other birds subscribe to crow dispatches.

850   Pair of crows stride around the front garden.

920   I see a speeding dark form pass the front window.  I suspect Sharp-shinned Hawk.  That will later be confirmed.

950   I do some small tasks in front garden.  A towhee snarls at me from the dense English laurel hedge.  It makes an ideal hide-out, a thick coat of those leathery leaves surrounding a mostly open, hollow interior.

10  I  go into back yard for a chore,  alarming the sharpie who’s there and  it flies south deep into a neighbor’s suburban forest.  The present squirrels care nought for him but they chatter at me.  I am glad I cannot translate their comments.  I am proud of my tolerance, which they vociferously do not share.

10:10   I scatter peanuts in the shell on the drive again.  Four crows arrive almost simultaneously.  Each goes away with a pair of nuts to cache.  At the same time juncos move along the hedge edge, dropping down beneath the protective overhang to pick seeds.  Temp still 36.
Out the back window I spot a lone Yellow-rumped Warbler.  The bird is on and off the suet feeder, apparently confident it can out-fly the accipiter.

10:40  Dog takes me for walk at Deepwood Garden.  While there we see a hummer out In the cold, a flock of Tundra Swans (30) call as their V-formation flies eastward, a kinglet, a robin.

11:30  Back home I scatter more sunflower chips.  The temp is all the way up to 37, no sun, no break in the gray overcast.  A downy arrives on the back garden suet block, dines, departs.

1245PM   Feeders replenished.  No small birds.  One squirrel cleaning out hanging trays in back.  Out front one crow on the same pole top the squirrels use.  Crows calling off in the distance.  Could be a legislative debate,

110   A pair of bright yellow birds appear—male and female Lesser Goldfinch.  They signal a frenzy of bird activity in front of the house.  They are clearly a pair, staying close together.  He has an especially dark back with more than usual amount of black feathers there.  I believe he’s the same bird I noticed with a blackish back last autumn.  Our first House Finch of the day drives the goldfinches off the cylinder feeder. Juncos are around.  Now the warbler and the two chickadees are busy in front. The chickadees run back and forth: feeder to bush to feeder to bush, one kernel per beak per cycle.  The Fox Sparrow splashes down at the birdbath for a good wash.  Temp is now a balmy 43.  Bath time.

150   Sunshine!   Squirrels seem elated.

230   With no rain to protect me I am compelled to do some garden work.  Sun.  45
The juncos flit about, pretending to be out of sight.  Three Mourning Doves arrive and perch high in a neighbor’s bare walnut, waiting for me to go back inside.  They are legally hunted here in September and October so they have good reason to stay away from bipeds with big front paws and little fur.

3  Back inside I note four sparrows in the front garden birdbath.  There’s that bathing beauty, the Fox Sparrow, and three of his cousins, golden-crowns all.  A crow is atop our deodar, surveying all his surroundings.  Nearly all day there is some crowing within earshot.  More crowing than even leaf blowing.

Sharpie pics–these all taken yesterday, including the crow pursuit:

Deepwood Museum & Gardens, Marion, Oregon, US
Jan 16, 2022
6 species

Tundra Swan  30     fly over
Anna’s Hummingbird  1
Northern Flicker  1
American Crow  2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  1
American Robin  1

954 Ratcliff Drive SE, Marion, Oregon, US
Jan 16, 2022
17 species

Mourning Dove  5
Sharp-shinned Hawk  1
Downy Woodpecker  1
Steller’s Jay  1
California Scrub-Jay  5
American Crow  10
Chestnut-backed Chickadee  2
House Finch  1
Pine Siskin  5
Lesser Goldfinch  2
Fox Sparrow  1
Dark-eyed Junco  25
Golden-crowned Sparrow  3
White-throated Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  1
Spotted Towhee  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler  1     myrtle


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