Filed under: Wildlife
They are stocky, with racing stripes–dark, white, dark and again across the tops of their heads, a bike helmet effect: the white-crowned sparrows are in town again. Didn’t see them coming. Last saw them in the spring. It’s nice living near the bi-cycles of a major flyway.
And yet. My children never had the overhead change of seasons I had growing up, where waves upon waves of wings would pass in wide dark-against-the-sky swaths overhead as the timing of the light changed. There is nothing to compare to that experience in northern California–but certainly, and happily, no absence of birds in the winters.
It turns out that these like the safflower seeds I’d changed to to ward off the squirrels. Not only that, but in the past, the white-crowneds have come to the yard to eat berries off the bushes but haven’t tended to venture up close all that much; now they’re up close. Who knew.
But the chickadees don’t love safflower, and I love chickadees.
The squirrels haven’t found out yet: I finally started putting just a little sunflower at the very bottom of the feeder before covering them over with safflower camouflage. The finches fight for the top perches while the chickadees dart in below and get what they like. I know their wily ways.
And I want all the fall and winter birds I can get.
(Edited to add: and I just found this. White-crowneds’ songs changed over time in San Francisco to be heard over the human noise, and when the old songs of earlier years were played back, the sparrows didn’t recognize them. And suddenly my head is singing Ricky Nelson, I went to a garden party… Or, wow, the late Ricky’s sons singing it.)
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