Words On Birds by Steve Grinley

Backyard Bird Feeders Provide Dramatic Moments
January 02, 2010
By Steve Grinley

     The snow and cold is bringing more bald eagles to the Merrimack River and Plum Island area. Snowy owls are finding their way to Plum Island. But you don’t have to venture out to enjoy the excitement of cool birds. The snow cover has brought birds flocking to feeders. You can sit in the comfort of your home and enjoy beautiful birds, and, often, some drama and excitement as well. I thought that I would share, again, some tales of backyard bird drama.

     Brian Cassie of Foxboro tells about some drama in his yard a couple of years ago:

     “There were two dramatic moments witnessed from my kitchen window this morning. No common redpolls, as usual, but under the feeders was a very plump song sparrow, feeding all by itself. As I watched, it was attacked, head-on, by a house sparrow, which flew in expressly for the purpose of being a bully. The scuffle lasted one second and when the snowflakes had settled our intrepid song sparrow was laid out on its back, unmoving. I walked out to it and just as I was leaning over it took one look at me and flipped itself over and flew slowly up and off to a nearby bush

     “The second event was an adult bald eagle flying directly southwest over my neighbor’s house. My wife, Sarah Jane, spotted it.”

     Martha Schwope of Concord was fascinated by the turkeys in her yard:

     “A male tom foiled my snapshot by seconds this morning, when he took his head out from deep beneath his feathers to prove that he hadn’t been decapitated. Until then there was no sign of a head anywhere. Those feathers are deep!

     “There are now twenty turkeys who mosey by our bird feeder every morning. Usually they’re in two flocks — the older ones and the younger ones (with a couple? of hens). But this morning they were all there.

     “Last year there was a total of twelve, which I know because I captioned one picture “TWELVE!” So it’s been a good year for turkeys!”

     Donna Marchant of Gloucester also shared her turkey experience:

     “Several years ago, I was ‘house-sitting’ for some friends in Newbury and they assured me, by leaving many pounds of cracked corn and an open account at Steve Grinley’s, that the turkeys would show.

     “Before the snow fell, however, they’d been nowhere in sight. I’d seen them gleaning from the corn fields in and around Newbury, Newburyport, etc. But none at the house or in the adjacent salt marsh.

     “Then! It finally snowed. Really hard. I awoke that morning to an awful banging on the huge picture window that looked out over the marsh. There was the Tom banging on the window (I was afraid he might even break it) with all his might. Whap! Whap!

     “When I looked around, there were females and immatures everywhere! On the roof, in the trees, near the bushes where the snow was shallowest.

     “He’d come to tell me that it was NOW time to put out that corn so he could feed his flock! I thought this was pretty cool.”

     At the store, our tree sparrows are back in good numbers and we are enjoying song sparrows, cardinals, chickadees, a downy woodpecker and, of course, loads of house sparrows. Even the pigeons can be exciting. Well, maybe not the pigeons themselves, but the large female Cooper’s hawk that comes by every once in a while and has one for lunch!

Steve Grinley
Bird Watcher’s Supply & Gift
Route 1 Traffic Circle
194 Route 1
Newburyport, MA 01950
Celebrating 2
4 years of service to the birding community! 
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