As winter approaches and fall migration begins to wane there is still excitement in the birding world. Feeders and birdbaths continue to bring our feathered friends into our lives. It is a perfect time to study the activities of those we come across at this time of year. Who feeds at the feeder? What birds prefer to feed on the ground? Do all birds take advantage of the birdbath? Do the birds enjoy the seed being used or is there a better choice for some birds?
Right now, not every species that is currently visiting the yard takes a turn in the bath, not even to take a sip of water. However, ruby-crowned and golden-crowned kinglets dominate the bath in the wee hours of the morning before the song sparrow is up and running. Otherwise the song sparrow challenges them every time one appears on the rim of the bath. There are no such challenges at 6 a.m. It pays to get to the bath early if you are a kinglet!
The fox sparrow is also challenged by the song sparrow, because the fox sparrow hasn’t learned the old adage that “the early bird gets the worm”! The two sparrows sit on opposite sides of the birdbath in fighting posture looking at one another. All for naught it seems because each will not give in. They eventually agree to disagree and share the bath, but most of the time they bathe solo. It is definitely their preference.
The golden-crowned sparrow visits now and again and so does the American robin. Robins are gathering in rather large flocks, eating their way through the fruit bearing bushes and shrubs they come across in their travels. Eventually, they need a both a drink and a bath. They splish and splash all over the place, displacing the water at an alarming rate, such that, I then have to venture out into the cold to refill it. Ahh, but it is worth it. Robins are very entertaining.
Another fall bathing beauty of late has been the Steller’s jay. It, like the robin, uses a lot of water when it bathes. Its black back, dark blue wings and tail with the paler blue on the rump is a sight for sore eyes, and its raucous call announcing that it is getting ready to invade the bath is warning to get my camera ready because now the real entertainment is about to begin. Once again, I get ready to venture forth into the cold to fill the bath for the next bathing beauty.
Every day brings a new adventure. I never know what species that I haven’t seen in the birdbath will decide to make use of it. It should be an easy decision for the birds. Bathing is free and drinks are on the house!