Thursday, February 09, 2006

Birdwatching, Recovery and Coon Stories...

When I'm sick, a sure sign of recovery is when I'm back to watching the daily antics of my feathered friends. After 5 days in bed with this years' version of the flu, I'm finding solace in my buddies once again. Hope you enjoy them half as much as I do!
Here's a Chickadee and Titmouse on the suet/log feeder just outside my kitchen window. The white line down the middle is the window sashing - sorry about that!

And a White Throated Sparrow on the tray feeder attached to my deck railing.

My big buddy, Rose-Breasted Woodpecker, amply displaying his namesake as he surveys my deck from the rail.

And my little Downy buddy just outside the kitchen window - he's actually getting so I can stand right by the window (unmoving, of course) and gaze directly into his eye. He knows I'm there, but stays unless there's an abrupt movement. He's really quite a cute little guy, even up this close! Or maybe especially up this close...

But the real antics have been occuring at night on our deck when the friendly neighborhood racoon comes around for her and her family's share of the bird seed. I have one of those marvelous squirrel deterrent feeders that's supposed to swish anything too heavy right off the perch.
Here's a photo of said feeder taken awhile ago - still in perfect condition and serving two winter Goldfinch and one Nuthatch quite nicely.

Anyway, the spinning perch idea may work with squirrels, but it definitely does NOT work to deter racoons. Two nights ago, Momma Coon came around and simply knocked the feeder pole and all down to the deck floor with a nice resounding crash. Mind you, the support pole extends out of a standard patio umbrella stand - which she also managed to topple... The top of the feeder spilled open to allow some seeds for the hungry varmits and the bottom perch totally disengaged from the unit. Now humans can do that, but coons aren's supposed to do that... So yesterday, wrapped tightly in my flannel nightie with a wool scarf around my neck, I braved the cold weather to upright the stand, fix the feeder as best I could, and await another coon encounter.

At 12:35am, coon mama and company returned for an easy snack - this time, they were unable to topple my stand. I had tied it to the deck railing... which probably will only last a couple of nights, but it lasted last night. So Coon tried to mount the perch, and lo and behold, said perch simply disengaged, due to the rough treatment from the previous night! So several coons were scolding one another loudly as they waddled away from the easy food source last night. Turns out it wasn't such an easy food source after all.

This morning, the birds were only slightly confounded by the lacking of the perch - most had no trouble adapting themselves to clinging at the food ports and selecting their favorite seeds. Of course, Momma Cardinal can't manage that trick, but she's not supposed to sit on such feeders anyway, according to the books. Tell HER that, however, and you have a different story. But for now, she'll just have to settle with eating the fallen seeds like her mate, poor thing.

We'll see what happens tonight, however. The perch is gone. The pole secured - as well as a sick old lady can secure a pole when she really is too sick to care. And, one rarely wins when it comes to encounters with the coon population. They're bold, clever, dexterous, wiley, cunning, curious, funny and even a tad cute. Messy, too, of course. Noisy and nosey, when the occassion warrant it, as well. And the babies are totally adorable... which is something else altogether.


mary m. said...

I hope you feel better soon, Pat. You would have done well as a pioneer woman...I can see you battling bears and making peace with the Indians...

Micki said...

Sorry you aren't feeling well. I like the bird photos. We've had a racoon or two on occasion. They always went for the garbage cans until we learned to use a bungee cord stretched across from one handle of the can to the other. Get well soon!