Saturday, February 7, 2009


There are a lot of unpredictable factors about backyard birding: which birds will visit when, how much they'll eat, whether they'll prefer a new seed or treat, if predators will be lurking nearby, if they'll nest in the yard, how they'll behave with one another, and even if they'll react the same way to the dedicated birder who fills their feeders and scrubs their birdbath in the cold of winter, during a snowstorm, or when a soggy rain is lazily dripping from dingy clouds. This week has been a disappointing one in my backyard, as many of the birds vanished for several days during our poor weather. This weekend the flock of American goldfinches and pine siskins has returned as the sun peeked from behaind the clouds, however, and they are as starving as ever. If there's one thing I can predict about this hobby, it's that I'll be out to fill the feeders again, whether the birds seem to appreciate my efforts or not, because I always appreciate their companionship.

It is also amazing to me how you can begin to recognize specific birds if you observe them long enough. There are two American goldfinches that I can easily recognize at the moment -- one fat, fluffy bird I've christened Teresa (she looks like a Teresa, though it could as easily be a male bird), and another male named Scruffy. I know he's male, and his moniker is appropriate, because he's begun his spring molt and his bland plumage is interspersed with shockingly bold yellow patches that are but a prelude to his mating glory. Granted, in another week or two many of his companions will likely appear scruffy as well and I'll probably lose him in the flock, but for the moment he's an old friend I'm glad to see occasionally, even if his visits are unpredictable.

No comments: