Filed under: Wildlife
Its head is turned away in this photo so you don’t really see that huge beak that looks like a straight-on continuation of that dark stripe across its face–I guess for this photo you could call it the vanishing point.
This is a Black-headed Grosbeak, a little bigger than a Towhee, and I only get to see them a few times a year. Today was definitely its day.
Some history: the scrub jays were eating all the suet in the large suet cage awhile back, dominating everything in the vicinity and chasing all the smaller birds away all day.
So I took the thing down and left only the small cage.
And that worked for awhile, till they found they could leap up from below at it, aiming just so between the metal grid and emptying the thing in a couple of days instead of weeks. And again not letting the other birds near. They’re pretty and funny like a cat and interesting, but a little variety, please.
You can never feed a jay enough to satisfy it. They are ceaseless hoarders, endlessly territorial, and they and the squirrels watch each other and steal from each other all year ’round.
I used a twistie to tie the (empty) big cage so that it covered three sides of the little one and the area below it. There. I figured it was only a matter of time before they remembered they could land on that one and clawed their way over to the food–but they never have.
The grosbeak showed up today to my delight, its orange chest to the sun, and after trying out the safflower seeds for awhile decided that that suet over there looked mighty tasty.
He landed on the big cage. It swung wildly at first and he wasn’t sure about that but he stayed put. The suet level was very low, which wasn’t a problem for the little chickadees, which can dance right through the squares in the grid–but it took some real acrobatics and stretching for him. He walked carefully slowly all over the thing till he found an entrance to where he could reach what was left–there you go!
And had himself a good meal. Talked with his mouth full from time to time. I would have loved to have known what he was calling out, how it sounded, to whom.
I wished I had my camera in hand.
One of the scrub jays, not happy with this sudden change of fortune, tried after awhile to assert ownership and strafed the area.
The grosbeak utterly ignored him. I imagine that big beak looked threateningly powerful, no matter how peaceful a bird he was. The finches over on the seed feeder to my surprise took their cue from him and they stayed put, too–I had never seen such a thing. (And I have seen a jay stab a house finch to death–they have reason to scatter at the sight.)
Then instead of taking its frustration out on one of the little ones, the scrub jay and its mate simply vanished for the day. Defeated.
Score one for the friendly birds.
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