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......