Sometimes when you lend a helping hand the unexpected rewards are great. Yesterday was one of those moments. We have been feeding the birds all winter long and recently we’ve had some record breaking cold snaps combined with snow storms here in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Every morning when we get up we have a morning ritual…feed our cats, feed the wild birds and lastly tend to our own needs with a cup of coffee or tea. Sometimes the cats have to wait for the birds to be fed since they are snug and warm in the house but the wild birds are all lined up in the tree waiting for us with anticipation looking in the window wondering when those magic bundles of food will be placed on the deck for their breakfast buffet.
Yesterday the snow was falling (9” total when it finished), it was cold and the birds were hungry! After the feeders had been hung for a while there was an enormous amount of birds at the feeders, more birds than we could ever recall seeing at once. Since we were snowed in again and cabin fever was beginning to set in an idea occurred to me to pass the time… why not try to hand feed the friendly little pine siskins. I had noticed that I could get just inches from these little birds and they showed virtually no fear of me when I would walk by the feeder. So I filled my two outstretched hands with sunflower seeds and patiently waited near the feeder. My hands were resting on the two bottom rungs our finch feeder. My husband was watching from inside the house but I didn’t know it at the time because I couldn’t turn around. To my surprise a siskin landed on my right hand and began to feed! Then another tried to land on the same hand and they had a little mini power struggle over my hand! The next thing I knew there was one on each of my hands and then there were two on one and one on the other! I remember thinking “I hope my husband is seeing this”. Well he must have been picking up on my ESP because he not only saw but he shot photos and a video as well (See below).
Today I decided to try it out again to see if maybe they were just desperate yesterday because of the snow or if they really did trust me. So under a clear blue sky with no snow falling today I was treated to the same joy of bonding with a little bird…actually two birds! I tried something new too. I gently put my hand under the feeder rung where a bird was already perched and it happily hopped onto it. At one point one was hovering trying to land on my hand from a nearby branch so I held my hand closer to the branch and then that one landed on my other hand. It’s always nice to make friends but it feels extra special when you make a friend who is of the feathered kind.
My husband got to witness some special bird behavior this morning too when he hung our feeders. A tufted titmouse watched from high above in a tree as he hung the feeders. Once he had hung them the titmouse called out to all the other roosting birds and they all flew out of the trees and came to the feeders. The little titmouse announcing that the breakfast buffet was open didn’t fly to the feeders right away…it was almost like he or she was the bird flock leader and was making sure its flock was OK before tending to its own needs.