Waxing Gibbous Moon
Drawing inspiration from brother John's recent photo essay Birds of the Texas Snowpocalypse, I used a little of my stimmy to purchase a three-pound bag of wild bird seed this week. I wanted to see if the Steller's Jay that nests in one of the redwoods in my camp might be interested in a little government-sponsored food distribution. I did not, however, purchase any sort of bird feeder. I simply cut open a corner of the plastic bag holding the wild bird seed and shook out a few handfuls on the gravel pad next to my redneck deck. Then I went inside and observed.
To my surprise, said Steller's Jay did not show up to investigate right away. Instead, a flock of migratory Northern Shrikes, aggressive little warblers with stubby seed cracking beaks, moved right in like they knew in advance of my experiment. I had not seen a Northern Shrike around here since last winter, but apparently they were keeping tabs on me.
They were all over that wild bird seed, in groups of 3-10, hopping, scratching, pecking, and eating, sometimes messing with each other, then fooooop, instantly en masse retreating up into the trees at the first sign of an intruder. Then, when the coast was clear, they swiftly and silently reappeared on the gravel pad for further furtive feeding. They are fun to watch, even though they are nowhere near as personable as my Steller's Jay.
Today I tried to take pictures and videos of them through my window with my Smartyphone. The results were pretty dismal, but those nervous little shrikes would not stick around when I tried in vain to step outside to get a bit closer.