Saturday, September 12, 2009

Corny Visitor

I haven't been birding much in the past couple of weeks, but the action locally has been exquisite. Not only have I continued to see Dart around our neighborhood, but during a drive near the Provo Airport this evening, I spotted a pair of lovely Swainson's hawks hanging out on power poles. The birds - new on my life list - are unmistakable with their white chins and brown bibs, and these were bold enough not to be afraid of me getting out of the car for a better look (I really do need to remember to bring my binoculars whenever I leave the house), though they got agitated enough for a grumpy screech before flying away. The flying is good, however, since it gave me a chance to check under their wings and be sure of their identity.

Even bigger is the backyard news, though it's not so birdy. I've heard many a tale of birders lamenting the visits from squirrels in their backyard - fuzzy, uninvited guests who clean out birdfeeders in a flash while preventing any birds from sharing a bite. Living in an urban area without mature trees, however, I've never been pestered by squirrels. This week, I was thrilled to see a fluffy, fuzzy tail scamper across my patio, and more thrilled still to see it attached to a squirrel with a fondness for cracked corn. I feed the corn in a shallow, wire mesh platform for the sparrows and doves, but this squirrel was even more entranced by the offering as his cheeks puffed out further and further as he munched. When he spotted me watching and snapping pictures, he flashed away, vanishing into my neighbor's woodshed where, I'm sure, he has a nice stash of corn. While I may change my mind if my yard becomes a squirrel sanctuary, for now I'm happy to have yet another guest at the feeders.

If you have problems with squirrels, check out this article about how to squirrel-proof a birdfeeder!

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