Snow day!

I haven’t quite fallen off the face of the earth and I’ll try to do a substantive post soon, but today we are trying to clear out after a nor’easter targeted the Binghamton NY area with almost three feet (0.9 meters) of snow.

The squirrels will have an easy jump into the birdfeeders now, unless they sink in the snow. Photo of the birdfeeders before snow is here: https://topofjcsmind.wordpress.com/2020/11/28/socs-for-the-birds/
You can judge the snow depth from the almost buried chain link fence in the back of the yard.
Good things the feeders are pretty full, because getting the birdseed out of the shed is going to be a feat.
T’s car is under there somewhere!

SoCS: for the birds

We have been feeding the birds in our backyard for years. We also wind up feeding the squirrels, who eat the seeds that fall from the feeders.

We do our best to not have the squirrels eat the bulk of the seed we put out for the birds, so we have some safeguards in place. This year, though, some of our safeguards failed.

We store our bags of birdseed in our backyard shed. In the warm weather, we leave the louvers on the windows open so it doesn’t get too hot inside. This year, an enterprising squirrel chewed through the (metal) window screen to get into the shed, where it chewed through the plastic bags holding the seed and proceeded to eat a lot and make a mess!

We had a metal can inverted on the pole that holds our birdfeeders to act as a squirrel guard. It had worked well for years, but now at least one squirrel – not sure if it is the same one that breached the shed or not – has managed to learn to jump on the side of the can and quickly scramble to the top, whence it can get to all the feeders.

Our large hopper-style feeder is its favorite.

So, in order to keep feeding the birds, we needed new options to protect our seed from ravenous squirrels.

We closed the windows into the shed. The squirrel, remembering there was lots of food in there, then tried to chew its way through the wooden door. Fortunately, the door is too thick, although it does now sport edges that have had the green paint gnawed off.

For the feeders, we went to our local bird feeding store to look at options.

We tried to get an additional cone squirrel guard to put on top of our can one so the squirrel couldn’t get over it to the feeders, but our pole diameter was too large to attach it.

We moved onto option B – to buy a new pole system. (Our original one had been out there at least twenty years and was beginning to have some rust showing, so a new system with a smaller diameter pole seemed to make the most sense.) This also gave us an opportunity to relocate the feeders. When we had placed them initially, they were centered to be seen from the sliding glass doors in our dining room. Since then, we added an addition that houses our kitchen, which has large windows overlooking the backyard. B was able to place the new pole centered in those windows, so our view of the feeders is much better.

The birds are loving the new feeder placement! Some of the birds we see regularly are cardinals, blue jays, chickadees (my favorite), tufted titmouse, downy and hairy woodpeckers, nuthatches…

None of which you can see in the photo I just took, but at least the squirrel is on the ground.

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rescue mission

This afternoon, we noticed a downy woodpecker on the ground under our feeders. It was strange, as woodpeckers generally don’t like being on the ground. We watched it for a while, but it became obvious that it couldn’t fly back up to the relative safety of the trees.

My daughters researched what to do. They put air holes in a cardboard shoebox and cushioned it with a towel. Next, T gently picked up the woodpecker with a washcloth and put it in the box and brought it inside. It is very chilly and wet today, so a warm, dry box was important for the bird to have any chance of survival.

Then, we needed expert help. They looked online for wildlife rehabilitators. There are none in our county who do bird rescues and the nearest one in a neighboring county wasn’t at home. Next, they called one that is affiliated with Cornell, daughter T’s alma mater. They were able to assist, so E and T headed for Ithaca, about an hour’s drive. (I stayed at home with baby¬†toddler ABC.)

I’m happy to report that the woodpecker stayed cozy in the box until arrival. It looks as though he is having problem with one eye and his neck. They will treat him if they are able and humanely euthanize him if they can’t help him, much better than either freezing to death or being eaten by a cat. They are going to send a postcard with the outcome and I will update at that time.

not the way to start the day

Yesterday morning, our doorbell rang quite early. I had Baby ABC on my arm when I went to answer it. Our across-the-street neighbor was there, letting me know that there was a dead cat in our driveway.

We do not have a cat and, due to severe allergies in my family, I try not to even touch cats, because the dander and saliva that cause allergic reactions can be carried on my clothing. I am also not a fan of people letting their cats roam the neighborhood because they tend to stalk the birds and chipmunks with whom we share our yards.

From my neighbor’s description, I knew the cat was one I had seen frequently in our backyard. It always ran in the direction of the neighbor to our right, so I had assumed it was theirs, as their previous cats had often wandered in our yard.

I had to leave soon to head to church to facilitate a study group, so I grabbed a towel, wrapped the frozen cat in it, and carried it to their house. All the cars were gone, so I left the cat near the front walk, instructing T to write a note to them and bring it over to the house. By the time T arrived, the grandma of the household was there, but it turned out that the cat wasn’t theirs. She had the idea to contact one of our younger neighbors who is a volunteer firefighter and out and about more frequently in the neighborhood and who stood a better chance of knowing the real home of the cat. By the time I returned home, the cat was gone, so I am guessing that the family must have been located.

A plea: If you take a cat into your home, please keep it safe indoors; if you do choose to let it wander, please put on a collar with your address so people can find you if need be – and a bell to help save our endangered songbird population.
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Join us for Linda’s Just Jot It January! Find out how here:
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Songbird smarts

Thanks again to Steph of Partial Ellipsis of the Sun for another fascinating post! Here she writes and posts lovely and informative pictures on songbirds, their songs, and the brains behind it all:
https://wordwomanpartialellipsisofthesun.blogspot.com/2017/05/birdsong-and-creativity-songbirds-name.html
At the moment, we have a robin’s nest resting in the crook of the downspout near our back door. No eggs yet, but we’ll see.