Meanwhile, some Friday random...
1. You might remember that we put up a suet feeder and a seed feeder in our terrace garden, right by the windows so that indoors, we have a ringside seat. To put the word out in the avian community, I began, as advised, by sprinkling seed on the ground. And far too quickly we attracted a bevy of opportunistic sparrows. Song sparrows would have been fine, but these were common sparrows, aka house sparrows, aka English sparrows. If you've ever had them hopping on your picnic table watching you eat a sandwich, you know these are probably not a bird to encourage. I worried I'd created a pest problem. Thankfully, the solution was surprisingly simple -- a bit of research revealed that these sparrows are only comfortable feeding on a fairly open, solid surface (the ground, a picnic table....), so I immediately stopped scattering the seed and instead waited for the right candidates to find the hanging dinner bell feeder whose two-inch sides would apparently deter the sparrows.
Meanwhile, the suet feeder had several visits from Common/Northern flickers, which was exciting because of their size and their colouring, and just because woodpeckers are always cool. We used to host many of them on the island, but I'd never expected to have them on an urban terrace garden.
And the seed feeder occasionally drew chickadees, which I was happy to see because I've been told other birds tend to watch chickadees, following them to food sources. If chickadees arrive at your feeder, apparently, word will get out and your bird lists will lengthen... Of course, chickadees are completely delightful in themselves (else why would they have been named so charmingly?!)
But so far, my favourite visitors are the bush tits that swarm in, a roiling bundle of tiny moving parts, constant activity, tails forking and wagging and tiny heads leaning in through the cage-grid of the feeder, their wee claws gripping them steady, their puffy breasts shifting to effect the best angle. Eight, nine, ten of them will vie for spots on the feeder's face, jostling each other as they push beaks into the block of seed-and-berry-stuffed fat. A few food grabs and then a dart over to play on a nearby wisteria vine, a fake tumble down from the maple nearby. I won't swear to cartwheels, but they've definitely mastered somersaults, and I'm sure I've seen the odd headstand. It's all motion, all the time, with these guys, and when they deign to drop by, we stop everything to watch. They rarely stay more than three, perhaps five, minutes before they take the show elsewhere -- like one of those magic rainbow moments when the sun shines briefly through a crazy rainstorm. although perhaps I should reverse that analogy, 'cause while they make us feel pretty rainbow-sunshine-happy, their antics get closer to the rainstorm's energy. . .
Interestingly, although we were told that the tits (pause to giggle) would only eat at the suet feeder (a major reason for buying that device and filling it with the (slightly pricey) block of fat for the avian gourmands), our little flock has at least four or five birds who are omnivorous enough to dabble in seed occasionally. Or perhaps they just love the acrobatic possibilities of the hanging tray's pendulum game...
Whichever, it's hard not to feel a bit sympathetic when the sparrows come by and try, yet again, to see if they can manage to eat from their wary perch on its apparently uncomfortably high sides. We hadn't paid much attention to the feeding habits of the common sparrow before, and given their ability to fly, to flit from branch to branch at will, we'd never considered they'd be rendered somehow vertiginous, incapable of leaning in to peck the food they desperately wanted, by a surrounding edge of half their body length. Why not simply hop down into the feeder? In fact, there is one among them who gets himself off the lip and onto the floor of the dish, even grabs a few seeds. But given how quickly he leaves, after such a meagre feed, I'm wondering if he enjoys those seeds about as much as I would like anything I tried to eat on a roller coaster. (You're right, I've never been on a roller coaster. I don't think that negates my point.)
And some days I swear we could add a new "call" to the bushtit's known repertoire: it goes something like "Nyah, nyah, nyah, nyah-nyah."
2. Having begun this with the intention of a Five Things Friday, I now see that Number One might perhaps stand on its own. What say you? I'm thinking I might conserve my returning energy and health by saving the other items for posts-to-come. And speaking of posts-to-come, yes, I'm still thinking about the post on the stage of life I find myself in as mother, grandmother, wife, and the way my/our friends' image of us can be a helpful complement to the way family
3. Oh, alright, just to move back to upbeat before we head off for the weekend. . . . one more Not-Quite-Five-on-Friday. For the francophiles and Paris-lovers among us, my sister-in-law texted the other day to ask if I'd been watching Call My Agent on Netflix. I hadn't even heard of it, but quickly checked it out. It's set in Paris in a talent agency -- so yes, beautiful people dressed in some pretty good clothes in amusing and dramatic situations against some pretty glamorous backdrops. We've been watching it with French audio and French subtitles (I use subtitles even in English shows, thanks to my hearing impairment -- having them available in French is a treat that really helps me develop aural comprehension) -- but there are English translations as well.
There you go. Three on Friday. Sans photos. Hoping to do better next week. Now off you go to get your weekend started. Leave me a comment first, though, if you can spare a minute -- I always appreciate them. Any weekend plans? And if there are any backyard birders out there, perhaps you can offer me some tips or anecdotes? Favourite birds? Birds to keep away?