Wings at the Window

female house finch
female house finch


I don’t know what it was, but all day yesterday my window feeder was like a Wendy’s drive-through at lunch time. In particular, a pair of house finches may as well have built their nest there. Every so often a pair of cardinals would come in for a bite, momentarily scaring the finches away. Once they even shared the feeder.  In the past I’ve seen the male cardinal stay for long stretches, picking up seed, skillfully cracking the shell and reaping the reward of the heart of it. The feeder is positioned in such a way that I’m actually able to stand within inches and watch this process. It is fascinating. Yesterday, however; both male and female cardinal were shy and apprehensive about coming to the feeder. I did have the shades up higher than usual, so perhaps they sensed my presence more.  


male house finch
male house finch


I was able to snap pictures of all the visitors, with the exception of a tufted titmouse who comes and goes quicker than a dragonfly. He did however; end up in my garage late this afternoon, and we had quite a time helping him out, but more about that tomorrow.  

male and female house finches on window feeder
male and female house finches



Two events at the feeder were so sweet, and I was disappointed that they happened too quickly to capture. At one point when the house finch pair were feeding, the male flew off. Upon returning about 30 seconds later, she stopped eating, he picked up some seed and fed her as if to say, “Hi, I’m back.” They then both returned to the business of eating.  


female cardinal on window feeder
female cardinal on window feeder


The same thing happened with the cardinal pair, only it was atop a deck chair. They love to perch there as they plan their ascent to the feeder. She landed there first, he flew up to her with a seed and gently put it in her mouth. I know with cardinals this is a courting activity, but not sure with finches. I just have to believe it’s a gesture of affection as well.  

male cardinal
male cardinal

Suet Snackers

Female Redbellied Woodpecker
Female Redbellied Woodpecker
Bluejay on a branch considering a snack from the suet cage
Bluejay near suet cage
Bluejay on branch near suet cage
Bluejay on a Branch
Female Harry Woodpecker on suet cage
Female Harry Woodpecker

Note: You can double-click on the images to zoom in and get a better view.

Walking outside to tend to the feeders and birdbath this morning, I was greeted by a flock of about eight bluejays. I’ve only ever seen them in pairs.

Moments after filling the suet feeder this morning, I was rewarded by several visitors. After neglecting the feeders for two days, I guess they were anxious to eat. A female red-bellied woodpecker was the first to investigate. She doesn’t look red-bellied, but the male red-bellied woodpecker has a wash of red on his belly. He also has a prominent red stripe beginning at the top of his beak, continuing around the top and sides of his head, down the back of it, and stopping at the bottom of his neck (the technical term is median crown stripe.) The red marking on her head is less vibrant and just covers the back of her head. Look closely and you can see a bit of suet on her beak.

Shortly after, one of the bluebird flock members ventured for a bite. In the first photo, he’s thinking about it, the next, he goes in for a taste. Female and male bluejays are indistinguishable.

Lastly, a female harry woodpecker arrived and stayed for a good long meal. The male harry woodpecker has has a bit of red on the back of its head (median crown stripe,) and a black spot of color below its eye (the technical term it post-ocular stripe), rather than directly behind its eye. It is also interesting to note that the harry woodpecker and the downy woodpecker are almost identical with the main distinguishing feature being their beak. The downy has a very short beak compared to the harry’s long one. The photo is obstructed a bit by the tie holding the cage to the branch. Several sparrows were waiting on the ground, but never got a turn.

I later had the privilege of seeing some beautiful birds at my window feeder, and snapped some great up close photos. Check back tomorrow to get a glimpse of them.

Another Nest, Another Egg

Sparrow nest in nest box
Sparrow Nest with Egg
Sparrow Nest with Egg

We mounted nest box number two last Thursday, and by Friday, we had a new resident constructing a nest. My son Mark thought he saw a Carolina chickadee coming in and out, but the nest and egg both resemble the one in the first nest box, which is hosting a sparrow.

Nest number one was built while we were camping at Devil’s Fork State Park in South Carolina, and we came home to the work of art. (see post below) This time, we are seeing the progress and appreciating how much effort it takes. An egg is already in the nest unlike the first one where the egg came a few days after completion as well as the top layer of fluff. It will be interesting to see how long construction takes and to compare the crowning layers.

Funny how each nest only has one egg. Most sparrow clutches are 3 -5 eggs, again most likely signifying a very young sparrow, perhaps in her first season of mating. The nest boxes are mounted approximately 30 yards from each other, with the initial intent of coaxing bluebirds. Last night at dusk, I heard bluebirds in my neighbor’s yard. I guess they didn’t see the prime and vacant real estate next door.

Egg in the Nest!

House Sparrow Nest with
House Sparrow Nest with egg

Several days ago, it arrived. The fact that the clutch (number of eggs in one laying) only has one egg is most likely related to the fact that the female is young. But it is one very loved little egg.  The nest is so deep that the egg is very well protected, especially with its top layer of fluff, which I’m now figuring serves three functions; warmth, protection and comfort. It is the male house sparrow that does all the work. He begins construction while simultaneously ‘displaying’ to females to attract them as a mate. House sparrows are monogamous, typically mating for life. Monogamous couples are actually able to identify each other away from the nest. A surprising fact considering how many there are, and how common they look.

Is took many shots to actually get a picture of the egg. The one you see here is the best I could manage considering the height of the birdhouse, depth of the nest and surrounding protection, not to mention the fact that I didn’t want to expose the nest and egg to the outside for too long. Even though I know it is a fallacy that a mother bird will abandon her eggs if the nest or egg is touched by human hands, I always feel like I’m invading their little world and privacy.

To view the nest or egg, it is best to lightly tap on the nest box prior to opening the door, causing the mother to fly away. Yesterday, my son Mark, forgot this part, and when he opened the viewing door, he was eye to eye with the mother! He said she froze for a moment and then flew away. He said they actually startled each other. I was glad to hear about the incident, as I rarely see her come and go, as the female sparrow does most of its incubating during the night.