I dug deep in my pockets (checkbook) today and paid $22 for a 50 pound bag of black oil sunflower seeds. Ouch. I know full well the birds don't need my charity this time of year, and my feeder is in constant danger of being torn apart by a hungry black bear, BUT...I have a pair of rose breasted grosbeaks who may be nesting nearby, and who greatly appreciate the fast food. And I'm still getting chickadees, red breasted nuthatches, goldfinches, and purple finches, so of course I can't let them down now! And if a bear tears down the feeder, well, it's showing its age and not going to be in service that much longer anyways, and maybe that will be a big hint to my brother-in-law, who built the first one, that it's time for a new one.
Last night I was watching the male rose breasted grosbeak at the feeder. He was apparently very defensive of his space while at the feeder, and would not let even the tiniest red breasted nuthatch land near him. But then I witnessed a moment of bird brilliance. A black capped chickadee was watching the action from a dead spruce branch near the feeder. The male grosbeak was there, chasing other birds away. He briefly went to the other side of the feeder; apparently the whole feeder was off limits. But while he was doing this, the brave chickadee swooped down to the unguarded side of the feeder, grabbed a seed, and flew back into the dead spruce. Hooray for chickadee ingenuity!
The phoebes decided to move their nest. I guess they were getting nervous about their entry ways to the new house being closed up one by one. Anyway, the new nest is...a few feet from where I'm writing this, under the eaves of the cabin porch. This is the site of an old nest that had been abandoned for years. Some kind of phoebe memory going on there?
I have also discovered a blue jay nest, about thirty feet from the cabin, hidden in a young spruce about ten feet off the ground. It's amazing how they nest so close, given the number of cats around here. I guess they can sense that the cats, for the most part, are lazy beings who know there are easier ways to get a meal than to climb a tree and be pecked nearly to death by parent blue jays. When I was little, I had a Siamese cat, Mittens, who learned the hard way not to mess with blue jays. She survived, but used up at least one of her nine lives in the process.
And then there's our "other" State Bird. The mosquito. They are thicker than I've seen in years! We're using an herbal repellent made of catnip, lemongrass, and a couple other essential oils. It seems to work, but then the cats follow me around acting all goofy. :)