Fall flew in
Saturday October 27th 2012, 11:28 pm
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.)

6 Comments so far
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Fascinating. I like the little chickadees too. Curious about the songs changing.

Comment by Channon 10.28.12 @ 3:51 am

You brought back memories with the “garden party”.I loved the Nelson Brothers version. The old pics of Ricky were great.

Comment by pat Flores 10.28.12 @ 4:44 am

“And I want all the fall and winter birds I can get.” Me, too, and I think the next door cat has them all scared off.

Comment by Sherry in Idaho 10.28.12 @ 6:55 am

I saw another blogger chatting about seasonal changes in the birds, yet I swear that yesterday I heard the conk-a-ree of a red winged blackbird in my backyard. Things are all mixed up!

Time to go fill the feeder…

Comment by twinsetellen 10.28.12 @ 8:47 am

when I lived in the Bay area I was so busy working a full time job, being a mom and trying to squeeze in other things that I never sat still long enough to notice the birds — I consider that an opportunity missed — and proof that we can’t do everything all at the same time!

now days I’m enjoying watching the changing parade — the magpies are back, and I know they’ll only be a here a week or so to annoy the dog

Comment by Bev 10.28.12 @ 9:10 am

San Francisco dialect — Ah, yi, ve haf spatzeel dyelek, dun yu?

Comment by Don Meyer 10.28.12 @ 9:42 am

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