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Birdchick Blog: The Joy Of A Messy Fallen Oak

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Joy Of A Messy Fallen Oak

I am so loving the dead oak in Mr. Neil's yard! This may look like a bunch of dead boring branches, but it is teeming with life. It was struck by lightening and had to be felled and when the tree was down, I asked if he would mind leaving it there to do its decomposition thing. He agreed and this fall it has been sparrow town! I've been scattering seeds for sparrows all along the edges to encourage them to pop out, mostly white millet, flax, canary seed, sunflower chips, cracked corn, canola, and Nyjer.

The juncos have just been lovin' it. They will even perch on some of the branches and chill out for a bit, allowing you to get cute photos of them doing their impersonation of a fluffy puffball.

Others juncos just give you the sass. It's a fun challenge getting photos of tiny birds not at a bird feeder.

This week, the migratory sparrows have shown up in earnest. Even around my neighborhood I've found some lurking white-crowned sparrows. So far in the fallen oak I have found white-throated sparrows like the one in the above photo. They seem a tad cagey compared to the juncos, preferring to stay within the tree branches. They must have just arrived, maybe after a few days of refueling they will stay out in the open more.

Speaking of cagey, there is at least one fox sparrow lurking in the oak. The above photo was the best that I could do for a photo. I swear, that is the back of a fox sparrow. Really, it is. It's different than the other brown birds featured in this post. Honest.

This bird popping out for the sparrow mix surprised me. I would have thought they would be outta the state by now. It looks a little different from we're used to. Can you guess it? If you said chipping sparrow, you'd be right. The tree sparrows should be here very soon after these guys go.

The song sparrow in this awkward position is hoping that if it sits still enough, I won't notice and will aim my scope else where and it can enjoy whatever morsel it just found in peace. It's not every day you see a bird with it's tail caught in a branch--how embarrassing. Someone call Mr. Blackwell.

Sparrows aren't the only birds enjoying the fallen oak. The titmice have been grabbing leaves and pecking the heck out of them, there must be some type of bug or larvae lurking in there.

And it's not just the fallen tree itself that has been fun. You may have noticed in previous that we've turned the stump into a tray feeder and everybody has been using it (well, maybe not the hummingbirds, hard to put nectar on a stump).

And it's not just the brown birds either. I put some mixed nuts on their for the chickadees, titmice and nuthatches, but it's never long before a blue jay wants in on some of that action. They love their nuts.

I love this photo. That chickadee looks like it's thinking, "Well, there goes the neighborhood." There's now attractive way to mammal proof a stump, but we have all the other feeder poles mammal proofed so I'm not too bothered if the squirrels and chipmunks want to hoover up the seeds. Since this stump doesn't have much in the way of drainage holes, it helps to have birds and critters move the seed faster.

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Blogger Chris said...

What a wonderful way to celebrate the past life of an oak!

10/12/2007 3:25 PM  
Anonymous Driver B said...

The juncos are so cute, and I also love the titmouse! Thanks again for posting so many great photos. I really enjoy your entries!

10/12/2007 3:34 PM  
Blogger spacedlaw said...

That junco looks like a plush toy!

10/13/2007 3:03 AM  
Anonymous lisa said...

Who knew how loved and busy and decaying tree could be. I loved this post. Thank you. :-)

10/13/2007 7:43 AM  
Anonymous Jacci said...

I love a good dead a sense there's nothing dead about it! I lived in Seattle many years ago and my husband and I used to trek out to the Ho Rain Forest every few years. Talk your living dead trees! Such an incredible sight to see luxurious mosses covering downed trees and ferns and plants that you could hide in. I wasn't a "birder" back then but the color and smell of so rich a place will always be with me; when I return I'll check out the birds!

Jacci in S.P.ME

10/13/2007 7:56 AM  
Anonymous sfmarty said...

How lovely to see Eastern birds. The jays that are around and about in San Francisco are quite different.

My stepmother, who lived in the Sierras, used to say that when you saw the juncos it was snowing up above. Meaning, I suppose, Reno and Tahoe.

10/13/2007 10:16 AM  
Blogger dguzman said...

What a great post! I'm a big sparrow fan. I can tell that's a fox sparrow--their brown is more reddish, I think. I do have a question about the second (sassy) junco; is that female? It seems more brownish than any junco I've seen. Or maybe it's some sort of brown morph?

Every time I see a tree felled by the wind or something, I always wanna drag it home and put it out in the yard, but that's kinda hard when you have a little Saturn Ion. But I do collect brush and branch cuttings and have a pretty good brush pile going. And the sparrows really love it, especially in the winter.

Cool post!

10/13/2007 7:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We have a marvelous felled oak on our property. We haven't put any seeds, etc., because we are in Western North Carolina where black bears are a problem. In fact, we have to bring in our bird feeders at night. However, I take some comfort in knowing that the tree will provide winter shelter for our year-long birds. Wonder if we can put something out after the bears begin hibernation?

10/13/2007 7:42 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

I love the juncos - we're anxiously awaiting their seasonal arrival in North Carolina.owjsinqy

10/13/2007 8:07 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

that's not some weird code at the end of my last comment - it was me trying to type in the word verification and apparently doing it in the wrong place - oops!

10/13/2007 8:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am new [well, farely] to the internet but just entered "junco love" for the fun of it; your "site" is what first came up. It is great. I plan to visit often. Thanks. W/WI.

11/02/2007 3:51 PM  

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