Bright Sights

I admit to being fatigued; I’m even tired of being tired. The family cat doesn’t want to hear about it. She has her own remedies so I am reminded to turn to my own sure-fire ways of finding a little balance and respite in “these times.” I look out my kitchen window.

Ways of dealing with the daily barrage of Covid news, anxiety-inducing headlines and cold weather…

The local sparrows (Will I ever figure out which sparrows are which? It doesn’t matter today.) and glossy-headed juncos are taking turns pecking at the seeds I’ve scattered for them. Chickadees are swooping on the hanging feeder and choosing just the right sunflower seed before dashing away again. A buzz of bush tits erupts out of the bushes, congregate on the suet feeder and just as quickly head for cover. A brilliant red-eyed towhee with its smart black and rusty red outfit shows up for a snack. There is a lot going on outside!

These are my beloved “regulars.” Not quite as often, nuthatches show up for a meal, and there is always a commotion when a flicker arrives. For such a large bird it is shy and easily scatters at the slightest movement my side of the window, so if I want to watch it I need to freeze in place or slowly step back a bit to be less visible. It’s comical watching it contort itself to cling onto the small feeder. I haven’t seen much of the downy woodpecker lately; I hope it comes back soon. And of course, jays show up and starlings, always with a big clatter of wings and whistles.

But sometimes I am lucky and see something unusual. I have a secretive Bewick’s wren that slips in and out of the heavy cover of the Camilla bush to poke around and occasionally sample the suet in the feeder. The white blaze over its eye and perky tail draw my attention but it doesn’t stay for long. And one recent day there was…hey, what is that? An almost-pink raspberry colored bird showed up, pecked and looked about and stayed long enough for me to find my bird guide and confirm that it was a purple finch. A new bird for me! We used to get the red house finches all the time, although they have disappeared from our area for unknown reasons, but I had never had one of these. (I don’t know why they are called “purple” but they are clearly not red.) So far, that was my one sighting. Maybe it was only passing through the neighborhood. But it made my day!

Hard to spot but always a thrill, a Bewick’s wren
A real stand-out: a purple finch!

Another bright light has stayed now for a couple of weeks, and my birding friend who knows this sort of thing assures me it may well stay for the season: a Townsend’s warbler. You can’t miss that flash of lemon yellow and black. It’s a tiny bird with a dainty sharp beak and bright eyes but when you see that color, you have to stop and search for it in the leaves. It’s in and out, flashing like a light bulb, hiding and then daring to try the feeder. I stand as still as possible for my reward of a glimpse. And I keep the feeder topped up! It may be the beginning of winter, but all color has not drained from the world. Hang on, be well. Look out the window.

Like sunshine on a cloudy day, a Townsend’s warbler

13 thoughts on “Bright Sights

  1. Aye matey, I be readin’ yer blog with me faithful bird book by me side so’s I can look up all they birds. They sure be addin’ a touch of color to this here drab day. Plus, I love me that ball o’fur. The cats they do know how to take their ease. We should all be so lucky.

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  2. Good job identifying the Bewick’s wren! The rest of the bird is somewhat nondescript but the white stripe fits perfect with the picture in my bird book. I don’t think I’ve seen a Townsend warbler up here in Bothell, but maybe the flash of gold I’ve been seeing now and then is NOT a goldfinch but a Townsend. Binoculars next time! I love the picture you took of the top of his head. His coloring reminded me of the Murder Hornets so much in the news right now. That “don’t mess with me” kind of head dress.
    Yes, I will look out the window and will grab the binoculars!

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  3. Yes, you have a great bunch of birds! I love the little bush tits – they talk to each other all the time. I haven’t seen a Downy Woodpecker for a while, but I have seen a Pileated Woodpecker twice on my suet feeder! Not common in Bothell – quite a thrill.

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  4. Wow, a Pileated woodpecker! I love my little Downy…but a big red-headed creature on my feeder would be astounding. We have so many Flickers here that I almost–almost–take them for granted. Still, they are impressive birds even if they do look comical.

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  5. My Pileated Woodpecker visited again. After eating some of the suet (the little birds on the ground loved the mess he made), he hopped over to the tree next to it and wiped his beak off on the moss on the branches! Back and forth, back and forth, until his beak was clean. Animals are wonderfully clever!!

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  6. How tidy! The clean beak part, not the debris…which never goes to waste so not at all a problem. I have seen the wren do something like that against the fence post. Maybe I can encourage some moss to grow nearby for her needs.

    Today when I was refilling my feeder, I discovered the neighbor’s cat hiding under our wheelbarrow that was parked nearby. Oh oh! Luring birds to their death is not what I had in mind. After I chased it away and moved the wheelbarrow I concocted some barriers out of old tomato cages to make any mad dashes impossible. At least that’s the hope. I’ll no doubt trip over it myself trying to keep up with filling the feeders. Hungry crowds await!

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  7. Absolutely loved hearing about the birds – and got a chuckle about the neighbor cat – we have one of those and yet the birds still manage to outsmart him. I am with you – Covid fatigue is real!

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  8. Hi Tracy

    Hope you are keeping well….with naps as “needed.” Birds can keep us looking out rather than falling into the abyss.
    We have to find ways to take care of ourselves through this coming winter. I miss you.

    Anne

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