Wednesday, October 20, 2021

A Visit From Beyond

DooDah is a mess

Ever since Studley Windowson faded out of our lives, I have become a backyard nuisance. I am a pest. I need another personal bird. Every bird out there can sense it and most find it alarming.

The crows are coming along nicely. Dickens and DooDah, along with their occasional companions Auxiliary Dickens and Ancillary DooDah, are accustomed to us and, I'd like to think, well-disposed. They're still a little skittish, but they're no longer so skedaddlish. Without question they show up when we do and project thought-images of peanuts in our direction. That's not the same as landing on us with delicate chickadee teeny-feety perfection and a pure heart, but crows are larger and stabbier, so it's probably for the best. Anyway, we're working it out.

But I can hear a single chickadee chip-note from anywhere in the house. I'll pop right up and run outside with mealworms. My mealworms are getting senile. I've had them for well over a year in the refrigerator and the ones that are still alive might very well be stringy or tough or morose, but they still move around a little. The chickadees hang out in the hibiscus. I approach them like a total creeper. And they don't exactly fly away. They sit in the shrubbery as I approach, and until I get my hand all the way in there they'll stay put and look at me.

Out of pity.

They think about it for a minute, and the first one says to the other, You know, that's getting a little aggressive, and the second one goes Oh, that one's okay, she used to be friends with my dad, and the first one says Kind of stalkerish, though, and the second one is all What's the matter, you scairt? and they discuss it among themselves, and then the first one says Suit yourself, I'm outa here, and the second one, who has held out just a little longer than he really wanted to anyway, says Oh, okay, if you're going, I'll come with you and make sure you're all right.
 
I know at least one of them knows what I've got. I think he is one of Studley's more recent kids. Once last summer I was feeding Studley in the hibiscus and this kid kept getting a little closer and watching very carefully. When he got within a foot of my hand, Studley ran him the hell off. So I'm figuring now that he's not being supervised, he's going to go for it. Any day now.

After all, Studley took a little time at first too. It was breeding time, and he needed a boatload of grubs because of all the beaks to feed, and at first I put a few out on the windowsill. Once he spied them and started looking for them there, I put one on my hand and edged it out. He was wary and then finally went for it like the big brave buttonheaded beauty he was. After that, the clip was off the chip bag. He landed on me, he landed on Dave, and eventually he landed on everyone we knew. Any friend of ours was a friend of Studley's. The man was a total ambassador.

So what I'm thinking is if I can just get this one fellow to give it a whirl, I'll be in 'em. Or a nuthatch. I'd totally be fine with a nuthatch buddy. All of which means I am now spending an unconscionable amount of time standing under the seed feeder like a statue with a hand full of worms, waiting.

Studley was easy to tell from the others. I did get to where I could tell Studley and Marge apart from the back--one of them had a slightly wider white edge to the wings, but I could never remember which was what. Mainly, I knew Studley was the one that landed on me and had a bum foot, and that left Marge for the other.

So now I have at least two standard chickadees loitering around. They're identical. But now there's a new, third kid in town. A distinctive chickadee. It's almost all white on the back. Oh my god.

It's Ghost Studley!

25 comments:

  1. I can understand how yo could miss little Mr Studley. I hope Ghost Studley will develop a lose friendship sho you can feel the patter of little Studley feet on your hand again.

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    1. What if Ghost Studley lands on my hand and I can't feel it? Ooooo.

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    2. No worries, we lived in a Gen-u-wine ghost shared house and when the one fellow (a Cavalry officer no less) walked straight through me nothing felt different at all- the sound of his spurs was the giveaway. Did it get my attention though? You can bet big on that one!

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    3. That was way too short a story.

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  2. Should read "how you could miss little Mr. Studley." and also "will develop a close friendship so you can feel" I ate an oatmeal cookie today over my computer keyboard which accounts for two of the mistakes and "sho" instead of so was just a mistake. Biggest mistake, not proofreading!

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    Replies
    1. We don't judge here. We really don't. You're plenty readable!

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  3. I'm sure that you can lure them with mealworms, especially once it gets colder, or in the Spring when they are feeding young. You have a lot more patience than I do, but I'm sure that the birds sense your eagerness and don't know what to make of it. They may think that you are eager to catch them and eat them.

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  4. Fingers tightly crossed for you. The privilege of having a wild bird land on you is indescribable. And several of our visitors have us well trained. And happy to be so.

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    1. Just this morning I spied Slatey, our vagrant East-coast junco! I'm sure it's the same one every time, and further proof that migrating birds return to the same places. So when you have a resident bird in your yard, it really is a resident.

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    2. You don't normally get juncos there? Sometimes I spy a solitary bird that I don't recognize, look it up, and find it's a West-Coast bird. They are all over the place now. We used to have only turkey vultures. Now they are predominantly black vultures (which are from the south and like warmer climes.) I hardly see turkey vultures anymore.

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    3. I hadn't seen a junco until I started living in Oregon 2 months out of every 3 (since August 2020). I was thrilled to see them in my parents' yard, and looked them up as soon as they appeared! Such a nice variation from the usual LBJs.

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    4. We have scads of juncos here from fall through spring but I hardly ever see them in the summer. I thought they hove off north to breed or something, but last summer I kept hearing them, and spied one or two, although not in our yard. So maybe most of them go north and the ones here have come from further south and this IS their north. I have no idea.

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  5. Replies
    1. The crows are a LITTLE less scary and dilapidated now but DooDah never really quite cleans up.

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  6. I'm reading about your crow right after I finished taking photos of "my" crow through the screen door, taking a drink from my water dish then jumping in and splashing about. They are actually "Little Ravens" according to the bird book but we have always called them crows.
    I hope you get the chickadees eating from your hand again.

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    1. My crows like to take my peanuts and soak them in the birdbath. It's kind of a mess.

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  7. One day this summer I poured a little sugar water out of the hummingbird feeder into the palm of my hand, and sat there for a long time like a statue holding my hand out, to see if the hummer would come to it. She did. I was tickled pink.

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  8. I had a single chickadee land on my finger and eat p-nut butter from my palm in 1975 and I'm still talking about it. I can see how that kind of thing could be addictive. We've had a 'Spirit Cat' follow us for 30 years and six moves. It's our fault he doesn't know he's crossed over the rainbow bridge and we've no intention trying to get him to move on now. He can catch up when the 1st one of us goes. Maybe Studley is the same! Hold the mealworms high and see if he comes!

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    1. I hadn't seen Ghost Studley for a week or so and just now I saw him again. I'm going to try for a better photo.

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  9. "Der Vogelfänger bin ich ja,
    Stets lustig, heissa! hopsasa!" ♫

    Definitely you!

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    Replies
    1. rough translation: I'm the bird catcher, always funny, hey! hopsasa (happy words, dancing about) from the Magic Flute.

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    2. Thanks, I was stumbling on the "lustig!"

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