Thursday, January 28, 2010

Counting chickadees

Next time you need a change of pace on a wintry day, position yourself in view of a bird feeder containing sunflower seed and try to count chickadees.

Betcha can't!

I know, because I keep trying and fail. The way chickadees swoop back and forth to snatch a seed, the speed at which they do it, the multiple directions they come from at the same time, and the fact that they all look the same, combine to make a dizzying, zigzag, constantly changing pattern that forces you to look straight ahead, sideways, and out the corners of your eyes simultaneously in order to keep track of them.

It's frustratingly fun, because chickadees are about the cutest birds to flit across the planet. In wintertime, they hang out with all the other adorable gray-black-white birds -- titmice, nuthatches, downy and hairy woodpeckers, juncos.

All of these spread out in summer, but during the winter they concentrate around our feeders. I watch them through the window or from outside, feet or inches from the feeders. The chickadees are so bold they don't mind my presence, and make cheeps and beeps in response to my refilling their tube.

Some people get the birds to feed from their hands, but I've never succeeded in doing that. Just the other day, though, I got one to perch on the cup of seed I held out and pick one from it while looking me in the eye. Someday I'd like to configure a hat to hold seed in the crown and sit outside with a book to see if they go for it. Maybe this spring . . .

Many weeks to go before that opportunity. In the meantime, I think there are 10 chickadees in residence this year.

Or is that 8? . . . 12? . . . 6?

Carolyn Haley

Author: The Mobius Striptease (e-novel, Club Lighthouse Publishing)
Open Your Heart with Gardens
(nonfiction, DreamTime Publishing)
First-year blog archives at

No comments:

Post a Comment