It was a cool, calm and overcast morning. I put out some bird seed when Rebekah came and joined Tupelo and I for our 10:00 am sit. We started things of with a brief intro of who we were, how we became involved with bird language, and how the sit was going to go. The Black-capped chickadees, Red-breasted nuthatches were already visiting the feeders just inches from our heads, while we could hear the Downy woodpecker across the street and the flocks of Goldfinches and Common Red polls flitted as they flitted high up in the sky.
We made our way to the backyard and started things off with a sense meditation to fully sink into our senses and our fullest awareness. The smells of fall were intoxicating while the sounds of the feeding frenzy enticed us.
Period 0= Our movement into the bush in the back of the house (North) and to the side lot which is well treed (East) didn't seem to make any of the ravenous chickadees or nuthatches nervous. The feeding frenzy continued undisturbed on the front porch of the house (South). A lot of crisscrossing, back and forth flight was observed by all, coming and going in all directions. The pattern was that of fly to feeder, feed briefly, and fly back to cover. Traffic on the road throughout the period. Tupelo noted he could physically sense the energy shift as the vehicles passed through. A zone of silence was detected to the West where construction on a house was taking place. Squirrels heard alarming in the west as well as a dog barking.
Period 1= Traffic continues. Dog barking and squirrels chattering continues too. A squirrel is heard in the North as well as another to the south. They seem to be communicating with each other. A woodpecker is heard calling in the west, could be a Downy or a Hairy. I need to listen to both calls so I can tell next time! The crazy feeding patterns continue. Tupelo notices that the nuthatches are caching the seeds or later. We all noticed that at one point mid-way through the period, the Red-breasted nuthatches in the NW were getting particularly loud and agitated. We did not feel it was quite an alarm, but something was going on. The dog barks in a different way in the west, followed by the southern squirrel to go nuts, pardon the pun. As this is taking place we also all noticed that the birds quieted down their calls and their flight. Tupelo and I were waiting to see what would come down the road, what all this was announcing! That's when 2 humans with a dog came walking and talking down the road. It was an interesting thing
for Rebekah to witness. The birds return to baseline even though the dog keeps barking. The squirrels are quiet. Bird sounds are quiet but flight and feeding pattern resumes. We hear a Blue jay a good distance away towards the west. Another Blue jay is spotted flying north to east. Bird sounds are increasing to prior levels. Squirrels resume communication and the Nuthatches start again in the NW.
Period 2= A Common raven in the west calls after my crow call to indicate period change. This gets the flock of Goldfinches in a tizzy up in the Yellow birch right behind me. Another raven is heard in flight going west to north. A seagull is seen gliding overhead heading NE. A huge flock of Common red polls lands briefly in a stand of maples just to take off when a diesel truck runs down the road. Construction begins at another neighbors in front of our place. That zone of silence is still present in the west at the other construction site. Now another interesting disturbance took place. We all noticed the nuthatches along with the chickadees getting really agitated and even alarmed just inside the bush in the north. this alarm moved in a slow progression towards the west. Whatever was in the bush (I think it was a cat) eventually makes its way close enough to the dog which starts barking again. things settle.
Period 3= Things are pretty quiet still, but flight to and from the feeders continues. Construction sounds increase at the front neighbors. A slight breeze is blowing. A White-breasted nuthatch makes an appearance in the stand of maples. Its pretty quiet and there isn't much flight, but the finches and red polls are at baseline? Curious. A large diesel truck passes. Could that have been the reason for the quiet feeders? We notice the chickadees come back to baseline before the nuthatches which is interesting to me since the nuthatches are the bullies around here. A downy woodpecker lands beside me in the yellow birch and flies off only to be replaced by a Hairy woodpecker, a beautiful male who calls once and comes closer before flying off.
Period 4= The Hairy woodpecker is now in the bare Tamarack tree just north of me. He is exhibiting baseline feeding/foraging behavior. The chickadees seem upset in the yellow birch. A downy woodpecker comes in. Blue jays spotted 2 doors down. Chickadees seem to relax.
Overall busy, active, and interesting sit!
We ended our mapping and debrief with discussing some of the questions and curiosities that developed during our sit :
1. Why are the Goldfinch and Common red polls so flighty and afraid? And in turn, why were they seen and heard at baseline while the usual feeding crew was almost silent in period 3?
2. Do the squirrels communicate their location as a common courtesy?
3. Do our domestic birds (chickens) influence the wild ones? Do they have a ripple effect?
4. Did feeding the birds this morning increase the activity?
5. How did our chosen sit spots affect the bird behavior?
It was great to meet Rebekah and share this sit with her. I hope to see her and many more next month. Our next Community Bird Sit is on Saturday December 12th at 10:00 am at our home in Jocko Point.
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