BACKYARD BIRDS HELPED PASS THE TIME IN MIDST OF IRMA

      T his is my first blog since Irma bullied her way across the Peach State.  Although this once major hurricane was downgraded to a tropical storm by the time she reached my hometown, she still brought plenty of rain and wind.

       Like many of you, my wife and I lost our power soon after she arrived.  We were more fortunate than most as our electricity was restored only 29 hours later.  As I write this blog, many folks across the state still do not have power some four days after the storm departed.

       This left us with plenty of time on our hands since would could not tackle many of the tasks that occupy much of our time during a normal day.  As such, we spent more time than usual watching the birds in our backyards. Fortunately, for us, the wind never exceeded 29 mph; consequently, throughout the day birds remained active around our feeders all of the time except when wind gusts were strongest.

       With the rain pelting down and the wind tossing our feeders back and forth, the birds that came to our backyard cafe included house finches, cardinals, a brown-headed nuthatch, an American goldfinch, and lots of hummingbirds.

       The cardinals and house finches stayed the longest at the sunflower feeder and looked more bedraggled than the other seedeaters.

       As usual, the nuthatch would fly in, pluck a seed from the feeder, and fly to a nearby limb to crack it open.

       I expected a beautiful male American goldfinch, resplendent in his jet black and bright yellow breeding plumage to stay at the feeder and expertly remove a sunflower seed kernel from its tough seed coat; such was not the case, however.  The bird would remove a seed from the feeder, fly to the limb of a nearby weeping cherry, and extricate the oil-rich kernel before returning for another.  I had never witnessed this feeding behavior before.

       Throughout the storm, a dozen or more ruby-throated hummingbirds swarmed around our hummingbird feeders.  They seemed oblivious of the wind; regardless of its velocity, they performed aerial fetes that we typically see on a calm day.

       All of the birds displayed voracious appetites.  This necessitated the feeders to be replenished before day’s end.

       Watching the birds proved to be a blessing as it helped keep our minds off Mother Nature’s wrath.  The experience also left us with a new level of appreciation for our feathered neighbors.  These birds demonstrated they are much tougher than they appear.  In addition, their will to survive anything Mother Nature throws at them it truly remarkable.  In spite of the fact they exposed themselves to the wind and rain for hours on end, by the end of the day, they seemed no worse off than we were huddled in our dry house.

 

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