Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Very Odd Chickadee

Drink, little hummingbird
Drink your fill
If you don't do it
The chickadee will.

--JDR, 7/21-12

So, one day early last week, I think it was, I looked out to see a chickadee on the dowel from which hangs the hummingbird feeder, and a hummingbird buzzing about above, the chickadee clearly watching the even littler bird and trying to figure out what it was and what it was up to. Then the hummingbird, deciding the chickadee was probably not a threat, zoomed in, lapped up a little hummingbird juice, and was off.

What happened then surprised me: once the hummingbird was gone, the chickadee launched itself at the little tube-feeder, clinging to the cap at its base with its little passerine feet. I thought it was going to be in for a rude surprise when it found the tube was full not of sunflower seed chips, like the finch feeder at the opposite end of the porch, but sugar-water. It pecked at the opening a few times and flew off.

But then the next day it was back. No hummingbird around this time, but I saw the chickadee on the dowel, looking all round to see if the coast was clear, then v. deliberately perch on the tube again and take a few sips before once again flying off. A day or two later Janice saw it too, and it's been back regularly since then (we see it about every other day or so, and it no doubt makes trips we don't happen to see).

So, there's something new: a chickadee with a sweet tooth.* More things, Horatio, indeed.

--John R.

P.S.: As for the hummingbirds, saw two go at it twice yesterday, most unusually inside the railing of the deck rather than out over open space. There was much tsking, and some helicoptering, and enough posturing and positioning to do a musketeer proud, but no actual contact (such is not the hummingbird way).

*not that chickadee have teeth, but you know what I mean.

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