Settling In

purple finch maleI moved at the end of last year. It was not a great distance (less than 100 yards as the finch flies), but I was anxious to see how long it would take the birds to find my feeders. When people ask me that question, I generally tell them between six minutes and six months. The Anna’s Hummingbirds found their feeders almost immediately. The seed feeder sat unnoticed for about a week.

The first birds I saw were a mixed flock of Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Black-capped Chickadees, and Red-breasted Nuthatches. Not too shabby. A few House Finches came by a few days later. Things remained pretty quiet for a few weeks, but activity has recently taken an upturn. A pair of Purple Finches, including the ridiculously beautiful male pictured above, have been regular visitors. Lesser Goldfinches and Pine Siskins have joined the House Finches, and Dark-eyed Juncos and Spotted Towhees are busy on the ground under the feeder.

The biggest surprise at the feeder has been a pair of White-breasted Nuthatches, a species I never saw at the old location. These birds have eluded my efforts to obtain a photo. I am looking forward to seeing what else will appear.

purple femalefemale Purple Finch

pine siskinPine Siskin

Red-breasted SSNot a feeder bird, but a Red-breasted Sapsucker spent a few days on the property.

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4 Responses to Settling In

  1. Eileen Kerry Kovac says:

    Hello, John. Thanks for another beautiful and interesting news bulletin. I thought I’d ask you a question that’s been nagging at me, and see if you had any comments.

    Naturally, climate change’s tolls on flora/fauna are worrisome, and, living on wetlands, I get to witness the drama of Canada geese that seem to be competing for resources, possibly due to migration pattern changes that bring too many together. I’ve seen, around various lakes in Washington County, HUGE flocks of geese that amaze when gathered (like unfurled carpet covering most of the landscape at times), some geese that look like they are ungroomed and starving, and, most disturbing, a strange nesting/egg laying behavior . . . laying eggs in unsafe spots, like close to my walking path, unsheltered save for some swirled grass around the eggs. I wonder . . . are there not enough protected nesting areas for the geese that live here now? This is the second year I’ve observed the egg-laying phenom . . . locally, in the same spot as last year, but last year there was one egg, this year two.

    BTW, last night at my hair salon, I met up with a pair of mallards, who visit the salon (right in the middle of Freddy’s parking lot on Walker) yearly. They come, hang out, are offered wheat bread and water by the hair stylists, and eventually fly off to wherever. The male was sitting on the roof of my car when I emerged; it’s my experience that mallards are particularly friendly to humans.

    That’s it; I’m certainly interested in what you have to say, and thanks in advance for your time.

    Eileen writeeileen@comcast.net

    • John Rakestraw says:

      Eileen,
      The very large flocks of geese you see are Cackling Geese. These birds spend the winter here in large numbers, then return to the arctic to nest. As for the eggs, some of the locally nesting Canada Geese will pick odd spots to nest on occasion, but I am not aware of any large-scale problems. Please do not feed bread to the ducks. It is not good for them, and can actually cause severe harm to young ducks that are still growing. Cracked corn or millet is fine.

  2. Susan says:

    We live near Commonwealth Lake and this year we have also had the White-Breasted Nuthatches. This has been a first for us also and such a nice treat. Has the Varied Thrush stopped by? We’ve had them all winter along with the Spotted Towhees and the others you mentioned.

    • John Rakestraw says:

      Susan, This has been a great winter for Varied Thrushes in the Beaverton area. I still hear them singing in the neighborhood, but I expect them to leave any time now.

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