These Oregon juncos are probably wishing they were in Oregon, but they have been wintering on Vancouver Island, as usual. I felt very sorry for them when that last snowfall covered most of their natural food sources. Sitting beside a well filled bird feeder, they can’t be starving, but they must be feeling a bit chilly. Their feathers are fluffed out for more insulating power, and I suspect they are not expending any more energy than necessary.
Feeling the same shivery chill, the Captain said, “This is the perfect weather for smoking some salmon.”
It was a lot of work, but after hours of preparation, and timing the brining and smoking process, he brought in a wonderful treat for us. Smoked spring salmon, or as the Americans call it, king salmon. It is properly called a chinook salmon, or if you want to get technical, Oncorhynchus tshawytscha.
Here is what it looked like once upon a time. This is an old photo from MANY years ago. You can only guess how seasick I felt, but catching this big spring salmon made me happy. If I don’t look overjoyed, well, that’s as good as it got for me as long as the boat was moving.
Even birds need a bath now and then, but Mrs. Golden Crowned Sparrow is astounded that her privacy is being invaded.“Go away, you junkie from Oregon,” says Mrs. Golden Crown, “and stop staring while I have my bath.”
“Such rudeness!” says the Oregon Junco. “Calling me a junkie!”
“Oh good. He’s gone. Now to wash behind my ears….”“Oh, for heaven’s sake! How can I blend into the tub when you come along and attract attention with your black soldier’s helmet?”“I can see that I’ll have to ask Mr. Golden Crown to come over to stand guard.”
“Come on, Mrs. G.C. Will ya hurry up and get out of the tub? Can’t you see this guy needs a bath? His face is quite black. You come on down here with me. I’m sure you already smell as pretty as these flowers.”
When the cold weather hit us about ten days ago, I hurried out to make sure my birdfeeders were full, and added some suet blocks to the menu. One of the first to enjoy a meal of suet was this Oregon junco. My sister calls them her little soldiers because of their black helmets. (I took these pictures through a window and using the zoom lens so that accounts for the graininess, but it’s the only way I could get close to the birds.)
But a rather large dinner guest arrived. The steller’s jay muscled his way past the little soldier. He gobbled down a big dinner and then beat a hasty retreat when an even bigger diner flew in.
This woodpecker, a red-shafted northern flicker landed right on his dinner plate. He had his black bib on and came prepared for dining. He looks quite dapper with his polka-dot shirt and a slash of red lipstick on his moustache. No, it’s not Mrs. Flicker, according to my bird book. In bird families it’s the men who get all gussied up and the women who keep a low profile. So here we have Jack Flash and his red slash, holding on for dear life to his seat at the table.
“Is it okay to start eating?” he asks. (Polite young man, isn’t he?)
Oh, maybe I spoke too soon. He’s got food all over his mouth.
“Did you say something?”
I told him he had food on his face, but he didn’t seem to care. He just stuck his face right into his plate.
“This place is a bit too picky for me. Maybe I’ll try ‘Avery’s Restaurant’ next door. They don’t stand there watching you eat, taking pictures like private investigators. I suppose they’ll mail these photos to my wife. But go ahead. See if I care. She’s out to a ladies’ lunch date at the Treehouse Diner with her girlfriends having the Insect Borgasschmord. I’ll get whatever I can get wherever I can get it, and so what if I make a pig of myself? A man’s gotta eat.”