February 15, 2005 @ 12:37 pm | Filed under: Nature Study
There’s a redbellied woodpecker in the neighborhood who is very happy with my birthday present. Back in December, Scott bought me something I’d wanted for a long time: a heated deck-mounting bird bath. Because, yes, I am that big a geek.
He installed it on the back deck where I can see it from the family-room sofa. The suet feeder hangs from a hook nearby, and on the other side of the bird bath is the tube feeder with the fancy millet-sunflower-peanut mix that all the best birds go crazy for. At least, in theory they do. This year we’ve had mostly juncoes, mourning doves, and bluejays. A lone titmouse made several visits early in the season, and for a while two sociable cardinal couples dropped by every morning to gossip and munch on sunflower seeds, but I haven’t seen them since before Christmas. I’m hoping the bird bath will woo them back if the weather takes a downturn.
Mrs. Redbelly certainly displays an appreciation of the modern conveniences. Every morning, just about the time we’re finishing our breakfast, she arrives for hers. She dines on suet, refreshes with a few sips of water, and preens a while on the sun-drenched deck rail. It’s like her own personal spa.
The local mockingbird gets his kicks by harrassing her as she pops back to the suet feeder for another nibble, but Mrs. Redbelly isn’t easily cowed. She flaps at him and brandishes her rapier beak. He quickly retreats. Smugly, Mrs. Redbelly darts to the tube feeder for a peanut, showering a hail of millet seeds on the lawn below; then she returns to her sunny corner to watch the grateful juncoes feast in the grass.
Every year the kids and I count birds for Project Feederwatch. Mrs. Redbelly is the first woodpecker to visit our yard since we moved here three years ago, and it is with immense satisfaction that I click the “redbellied woodpecker” box when we enter our data each week. The official Feederwatching season lasts through April, but I hope Mrs. R. will continue her spa visits well into the spring. The mockingbird would be bored without her.
If you didn’t sign up for Project Feederwatch this year, you can still help count birds! The Great Backyard Bird Count is this weekend, February 18-21. Check it out at www.birdsource.org/gbbc.
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