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Bird lessons- are we taking note?

The Orioles have long left, and we haven’t see a Hummingbird for well over a week. Obviously they have all left for good reason.  Winter is coming! Their feeders have been taken down, cleaned and stored for the winter. 

 Yesterday, we got our winter bird feeders out, made sure they were all clean and in good condition and filled them with fresh seed and suet, and hung them from a pole just in front of our front window.  We normally do not feed birds during late summer and early fall.  We don’t want to encourage Grackles and Starlings to hang around  and eat sunflower seeds when they should be migrating.

We hadn’t seen a White-breasted Nuthatch around for some time, but within an hour of filling the feeders, we had two or three helping themselves to the peanuts in the feeder hanging from our front porch. Much to my amazement, one started depositing the peanuts into spaces between the ends of the cedar boards on our siding, only a few feet away from the feeder.  If only he had known that the feeder would be there for the winter and there was no need to put himself through such hard work.  Why not eat them and relax in the warm fall sun.

“Although caching food is a normal behaviour for birds, was that Nuthatch trying to tell us something …?”

That little Nuthatch taught me a lesson.  Hoarding is good!  Well, maybe not hoarding, but filling and maintaining a pantry is very wise.  In our part of the world, we have very few catastrophic events preventing us from getting food, water and medical supplies for more than a very few days, but we never know.  The recent hurricane season is still fresh in our minds.

Although caching food is a normal behaviour for birds, was that Nuthatch trying to tell us something this early in the fall? Having sufficient food, water, wood fuel and gasoline for a generator on hand to last at least a week is a good thing.

Birds can teach us much, are we taking note?

Now is the time to get those feeders out and filled ready for winter.  Having winter resident birds dine in your yard will provide you with much enjoyment over the long winter and they can be assured of constant food supply.

There is one bird lesson many of us have not learned very well.  It is a lesson they have been trying to teach us for hundreds of years in this part of the world.  That is, when the leaves begin to fall, it’s time to head south.

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David A. Homer is member of the Board of Directors and a volunteer at The Couchiching Conservancy, a non-profit land trust dedicated to protecting nature for future generations.