Saturday, January 26, 2008

Brush Pile BC

The weather has been blistering cold this past week - for the Okanagan anyway. The overnight temps have been -15 to -17, and daytime highs in the -5 to -8 range. We are not amused!

It looks as if we have a beaver lodge in our front garden, but it's much more entertaining. James has been trimming the fruit trees despite the bitter weather. Yesterday the cherry trees in our site got their annual trim. He piled the cut branches next to one of the trees, right beneath one of the bird feeders. Yes!

The small birds view a brush pile as prime real estate, the equivalent of a gated community. Hawks are definitely the sparrow's idea of an undesirable neighbour.

We had such a good time watching the birds in the brush pile last year that I was going to ask James to please give us a brush pile again this year.

It's magic. 100 sparrows fly at a three by six pile of branches and vanish inside it. If nothing is making them nervous they perch on the top and outer edges of the pile. Otherwise they dive right in.

The quail are as happy as the small birds for the cover. I took pictures at about 2:00 this afternoon, when only a few quail were in attendance. You can see a couple of quail perched inside the brush pile now, along with a bunch of smaller birds.

Right now it's bird siesta time. The only ones left feeding are three or four natty little juncos. You can see one here on the larger feeder a few minutes ago with a house sparrow and a female red poll.

Not a good day for pictures, as it's overcast and the birds blend right in with the brown grass and shadows from the brush pile.

A quick consult with Birds of North America and I can say that this afternoon we have the following visitors:

House sparrow
Oregon Juncos
Western race fox (sooty) sparrow
Chipping sparrow
Song sparrow
Common redpoll
Gambrel Quail

I'm going through about 50 pounds of birdseed a month right now, and my little friends are definitely going to shopping in the "husky" section this spring when they put on their courtin' outfits.

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