Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Little Friends

Male Bushtit

"A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song." Chinese Proverb

Female Bushtit

I recently put up some bird feeders outside my studio window. The Bushtits were the first to discover this new bounty, (I have feeders in other locations in the garden) and entertained me as I was working, with their jumping around and tweeting.

The Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus) is a long tailed tit, and is the smallest of the passerines in North America. It is about 11 cm in length and weighs just over 5 grams.  Bushtits are a rather dull gray brown colour, with a large head and short stubby bill, short neck and long tail. The male has dark eyes and the adult female has yellow eyes.

They fly around in groups of 2 to 3 dozen (or more) and feed on insects and spiders but also eat the suet, seeds and nuts in my feeders. The flocks are quite comical to watch, they have an odd jumpy pattern of flying, when they are feeding in a tree or feeder they hop about in every direction. They constantly call out to to each other with a short "tsit" call.

I was watching as they went and grabbed nuts from the feeder in their beaks, flew to a perch and transferred the nut to their foot to eat it.

A female with piece of peanut


Male Bushtit (top) with dark eyes on the suet block

They crowd onto the suet feeder, I sometimes think they look like a pincushion with their tails sticking out in every direction.

The Bushtits share the feeder with Chickadees, Sparrows, Towhees, Juncos, Goldfinches, Starlings, Downy Woodpeckers and Red Shafted Flickers. The Crows and Squirrels (black and gray) also come by for a meal.

Staying with the bird theme here are some pictures of an albino hummingbird. I did not take them they were taken by Marlin Shank (but they were so beautiful I wanted to share them with you):

Fifteen-year-old photographer Marlin Shank was fortunate enough to capture 
several images of a rare albino ruby-throated hummingbird while in a park in 
Staunton , Va

You can click on any of the photographs to enlarge them, if you do so for the last one you will be able to see the ring of feathers surrounding the eye. They are amazing birds.

It has been a busy week for me and my sisters. My Mum is finally ready to leave hospital later this week after a fall causing a compression fracture in her lower back; she now needs more care than before so we have been struggling to find a safe but welcoming environment for her but one that offers her the support she now needs. I have my fingers crossed that we have found somewhere with a good balance.

One last bird shot in honour of Valentine's Day: a pair of Parrots happily sharing each others company.

"Birds on the Wires":

 Thank you for dropping by and Happy Whimsy Wednesday. Until next week......


  1. I'm sorry about what your mother is going through and will send out good thoughts for her and you. I love the shots of the birds gathering around the new feeders and also the ones the young person took of the albino hummer. Great valentine's day shot of the parrots. I always enjoy your posts.

  2. hope you have found a nice place for your mum !
    love the albino's one and all the images of the birds happy to have found food in your garden !

  3. I like your pincushion analogy for the birds feeding. So true! Looks like you created a haven in your garden for these warblers outside your window. Glad your mom is out of hospital and recovering. The albino hummingbirds are spectacular captures by Marlin who shows his wizardry through photography.

  4. I really enjoyed your bird photos, learning a bit more on them. I like the idea of the pincushion around the feeders.

    Wishing your mom a speedy recovery.

  5. the bushtit photos are so adorable!!! loved them!

    good luck to your mother! i'm so sorry for her pain and the stress on you and yours...

  6. Gillian, so sorry to hear about your mom's misfortune. I hope you are able to find a suitable place that can tend to her needs.

    I love all of you backyard photographs! Wow, I have never seen so many birds on a suet cake before. That is really quite something. Sweet images! The albino hummingbird is so unique. Quite a catch. Always a pleasure to stop by your wonderful blog!

  7. I'm holding you and your mother in my thoughts, Gillian, and sending my best for her recovery and well-being as she adapts to new surroundings. You did well to post on time, and as usual, with lots of interesting information and thoughtful observations. I, too, love the pincushion analogy. Just perfect. I like Bushtits with their bustling energy, enjoyed seeing the albino hummingbird, and also found the video at the end very interesting, with the crows on the lines resembling notes on a staff.

  8. Oh my, that albino hummingbird is awesome. How so very fortunate for him to capture it. Your little pin cushion birds give me a laugh!

  9. I hope your Mom settles in to her new place? and be well cared for.....

    I love the Birds on a Wire Video.. very clever!

    we had a bunch of bushtits on our Suet feeder the other day.... thank you for all the information about them

    see you Friday.....Marilyn

  10. A beautiful collection of bird photos. You're right about the bushtits around the suet block looking like pin in a pincushion!

    Marlin's photos of the albino hummingbird are wonderful.

  11. I love the Bushtits, they are a bit like our Long-tailed Tits. Lovely photos.

  12. Sweet photos of the birds and I love the proverb you quoted!

  13. Wonderful birds to see... i loved the build up on the feeder..

    Please accept my best wishes and I hope your Mum gets well soon.
    Take care.

  14. A wonderful set. Bird feeders are a constant source of interest and entertainment.

  15. You must get so much pleasure watching those dear little birds at the feeder. thanks for sharing the albino hummingbird photos. they're lovely!

  16. I really enjoyed your pictures of the birds around the feeder. We have one as well and those little bushtits are such a delight. Their chitter and chatter really picks you up on a slow day. Keep up the lovely shots.

  17. Gorgeous pictures...and great words. Thank you dear friend. Thank You!

  18. crowded. :) How do they get any food at all?

    The white one is gordeous.

  19. Have a good night sleep!

  20. What a lovely and delightful photos and words!! During winter, your feeders become oasis for birds and they please your eye.
    I have not seen an albino hummingbird!! Almost divine. Say hello to a young artist and "I love the photos and how lucky you are!!"

  21. I would love to see that many birds in our yard. For some reason there are none, and we don't let Boo out so it's not him....

    Another word verification free blog!! Whoot whoot!!

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

  22. Wow, I love all those bushtits, they would be a new bird for me. Looks like they love the suet. Wonderful photos of all your birdies. I send my prayers for your Mom and I hope she recovers quickly. Take care and have a great week!

  23. What a wonderful selection of birds. I am amazed by the white hummingbird, thanks for sharing, I wouldn't have seen it otherwise. Sorry to hear about your mother, I hope she does well in her new environment.

  24. I hope that your mother is feeling better, and that difficult times will pass soon. I really liked the photos in this post.

  25. Gillian, Seeing all those bushtits on your feeder is amazing! What a joy to see the hummer! Bizarre but beautiful!