How birdwatchers have fun in the summer doldrums
Photo by Cal Vornberger
This morning at about 8:30, the Wednesday walking group known as the Early Birders arrived at the Azalea Pond a bit dispirited. It was hot -- the 4th day of the latest heatwave. Very few birds had made themselves known, either by sight or sound. It was at least a month before the very earliest fall migrant [maybe the yellow warbler] would start the birdwatching juices flowing again.
Then a titmouse began to call nearby. The call came closer and closer -- and a bold grey, crested bird suddenly appeared on a fence just in front of us. Alice quickly took out her little bag of nuts [pecans this time, not peanuts] gave the rest of us a few, and the fun began. One by one we held out our hands, palm up, little bits of pecan on the palm, and the titmouse honored each of us in turn by gently landing on our hands, taking a tidbit into its bill and taking off again.
Another titmouse arrived, a fledgling, followed by another. Then a nuthatch joined the little mob of feeding birds, and then another. And then two more nuthatches. Three of them were clearly fledglings, a bit fuzzier and clumsier than the adult. It was the nuthatch family we had been following for the last few weeks, watching the parents go in and out of their nest-hole in a low stump near the Rustic Summerhouse.
A pair of bluejays joined the group of feeders. These did not come to our hands to feed. They'd land on a branch just above a bird that was about to eat its nut tidbit and grab it -- or make the bird drop it. Then the bluejay swooped down and made off with it, the bully.
A great time was had by all, the feeders and the fed alike and the miseries of a New York heat-wave were deferred for at least half an hour.