Thursday, November 5, 2009

29 October 2009 - Robert Long and Kensington Metro Park

29 October 2009 - Robert Long and Kensington Metro Park

I learned this morning that I had not been selected for a job I thought was a perfect fit. Oh well... When life hands you bird seed, go feed some birds! There must be a reason for everything. I was pleased to discover that the answer would soon be in the palms of my hands once again!

Robert Long (12:00 - 1:00 pm):
Judy and I dropped by Robert Long Nature Park enroute to Kensington MP. It was cold, dreary and overcast. The heavy morning fog was still burning off. Not too interesting today.

Ring-billed gulls - a flock
Canada Geese
Killdeer (1)
Wood Ducks (2)
Mute Swans (5)
Great Egret (1)
Chickadee (H)
Downy Woodpecker

Kensington MP (1:30 - 4:30 pm):
This was our primary destination. Judy wanted to visit her "friends". The fog was still burning off. Overcast until about 4 pm when we were starting to leave. High 50's.

We had fun again hand-feeding the birds. Actually, we had the "big four" species that are likely to hand-feed here. The first encounter came as we walked back from the boardwalk over the lake. A female Downy Woodpecker landed on a branch near us. Almost immediately a male flew in to have a discussion with her. I figured that they might be "fighting over me" (yes, I know it is ego-centric) and reached in my pocket for some seeds. The male flew off, but the female immediately landed on my outstretched hand to feed. She spent a fairly long time there so Judy could get a few pics. Wow! I was impressed, and Judy was almost in tears! She caught the moment! What a gift!!!

On another trail, we were hand-feeding birds and taking pics. A couple respectfully paused (outdoors people are so cool!) and we waved them to come thru. The birds never lost interest. The woman said she had never seen or had done that, and was amazed that a Titmouse would come to a hand. OK. Here's a handful of seeds. "No, I couldn't". "Yes you can. We have lots of seeds". Out went her hand with seeds; up went this amazing smile as a Titmouse alighted! Another gift had been given to us by sharing!

Much later, after walking the trails, we found a bench where it was apparent that people had fed the birds before, and sat down. Immediately our feathered friends came to us. Another Downy fed from my hand - this hungry gal downed probably 12 seeds before flying off!

Yet, the most remarkable here was a White-breasted Nuthatch! A few times before we had seen them coming to branches near where we were hand-feeding chickadees and titmice, they appeared interested, but they would never come to our hands. They waited until we left, then would feed on the seeds the other birds had knocked out of our hands onto the ground. At the bench, the Nuthatch landed on the back of the bench. I slowly moved my hand closer and closer until my hand touched the bench directly under the Nuthatch, at which time he moved in for a seed. He never really alighted on my hand, but I am going to count this anyway! What a treat!

It set me to thinking about a new question. I know Nuthatches "walk upside down" on trees, and I think it must be because of that special back toe. It seems longer and with a sharper toenail than other birds. I think they are more comfortable picking seeds below them. I wondered if maybe a hand does not give the right "landing" for them. Then I started wondering if somehow the bird's "hind-toe" is analogous to the human thumb. (And so on ...). Questions - always questions! Another time ...

Anyway, enjoy the pics! We have been truly blessed! Walk (and move softly), and carry a bag of seeds (and maybe a big stick for Nuthatches to land on?). Extend your hands to others! They will come to you!

Species list:
Downy Woodpecker
Eastern Bluebirds (many) - I was surprised, but the naturalist said many over-winter there
Mute Swans
Great Egret (1)
Red-Bellied Woodpecker (H)
Bluejay (H)
American Crow (H)
Cardinal (2)
Red-winged Blackbirds (several)
White-breasted Nuthatch (6)

1 comment:

Stephen Baird said...

amazing dr. bob, love your photos and your obvious appeal with our feathered friends.
all the best, nikonsniper steve