With a switch from southeast, the northwest wind brought that breeze that smells like polar bears. It breathed on the local hills and shocked the birds who had thought wind and rain were hard enough to endure.
(Bird pictures taken through my dirty windows. Sorry.)
Cold and hungry, they search out any source of food. Sure I have suet out, and the birdfeeders are always topped up, but something more is needed today.
Saskia, the pine siskin, catches a few rays of sunshine, out of the wind.
“Ahh! That feels so good on my feathers.”
She sits on a fir cone and decides that she likes the one next to her better.
“It’s a stretch,” she says, “but so worth it. Yikes! Nearly fell off.”
Orson (top left) mutters, “I don’t see anything.”
Saskia calls to him (bottom right), “Come on down here, Orson. Plenty of cones over here. Great bunches of them!”
Brother Sasha’s found a good one. “But whoah! The blood is all running to my head.”
What a showoff he is! “There’s plenty of cones down here,” Saskia calls to him, “and you don’t have to be an acrobat to get at them.”
“Ooh! Yum! Kind of like sticky caramel candies. I’ve got a good one here.”
The nights have suddenly gone cold,
If we don't eat, we won't get old,
With sunny rays, though they are rare,
The cold is easier to bear.
The fir trees shelter from the breeze,
And we can find the cones with ease,
Inside them is a sticky snack,
We eat them fast and then come back.
Our squirrel, Lincoln, loves them too,
But kindly he has left a few,
The polar wind is such a beast,
We hope it switches to southeast.
A few more days of icy toes,
And then we hope that winter goes,
Around the corner, spring awaits,
Take heart and let's hang in there, mates.
You’ve seen pictures of my woodshed before, but take a closer look at the wood. It is dotted with birds, most of them Oregon juncos and pine siskins all trying to find shelter and food to keep enough warmth in their little bodies to survive until the fury of the storm has passed.
The rain lashed out in torrents and blew into all shelters sideways. The feeder is blurry, in constant motion, blown by the howling wind. The Captain and I made up a hanging cage for yet another suet block and moved two birdfeeders farther into the woodshed under cover. As we worked in that screaming wind we noticed more than one tiny bedraggled siskin huddling under pieces of firewood, feathers soaked, desperate to get out of the piercing wind that slapped icy water onto their wee little bodies. I could have cried. But we did what we could and had to let “good ole Mother Nature” do what she does best – kill off the weak. Survival of the fittest is hard to watch sometimes.
I took two quick videos of the storm from the deck of our house. In the onslaught of the wind and rain, I kept pressing the wrong button to stop the video and as I lowered the camera I caught an ugly picture of my slippers and an empty flowerpot. Not Academy Award film quality, but you’ll get an idea of the force of the storm. What you won’t see are some of the gusts that were way more violent than what I captured here.
If you turn on the sound, you’ll hear only the music of nature.
Today the birdfeeders are empty again. I’m refilling them a lot but if it will help some birds survive, I will keep on filling them as often as needed.
These little birds make me happy all year, so I want to do what I can to help them out when they need it.
No poem today. I’m too unhappy about watching them suffering yesterday.
The pine siskins are whirring around in flocks of hundreds, landing here and there on the grass, in shrubs, in the garden, and wherever else they might find a bite to eat while staying in the safety of their numbers. Even the odd Oregon junco sits with them for safety from the hawks who will catch any loners or stragglers.
I feel guilty for living in a house with so many windows. I purposely don’t clean them often, so the birds will see that there’s a barrier of glass. (Good excuse for not cleaning them, right?)
But still, in their frenetic staging maneuvers, many of these little birds hit the glass. Many survive, but this little guy looked in bad shape. Broke my heart! You can see that his eyes are nearly closed, and in this morning’s chilly air, he looked to be in bad shape.
I wanted to pick him up to warm him so the cold cement walk wouldn’t sap the warmth from his tiny body, but it would have freaked him out even more and the last thing he needed was more stress.
I watched as he leaned to one side. If he had a broken foot or damaged wing he would die a slow death.
Some of his friends flew in to feed nearby and he perked up ever so slightly. He turned his head slowly back and forth as he watched them. I was glad to see he didn’t have a broken neck.
Then, as his friends chirped encouragement, he straightened so he was sitting up without leaning. He looked up at the sky, over to his friends on the ground, back and forth. He shuffled his wee legs to lift his body off the ground, and then a miracle happened. He decided he was not ready for bird heaven just yet.
Before I could get the camera turned on again, he hopped up into a nearby rhodo, and from there he flew away.
In desperate times, when we feel that all is lost, sometimes all we need is a little help from our friends.