Fun and mystery under the feeders

Caught on camera: An eastern chipmunk does impressions of Alfred Hitchcock.

It was mammal central under the feeders today. Appearances were put in by eastern chipmunks, gray squirrels, a rabbit and our new resident woodchuck. Not that I don't enjoy the occasional mammal I was more interested in what migration was bringing our way. Earlier this week someone on the bird nets reported seeing white-throated sparrows and juncos at their feeders in Carlton County so I knew it was just a matter of time before we had them under our feeders. Sure enough, when I was setting up the camera this morning I heard the familiar "zeep" of white-throats. Denny was feeling like quite the cock of the walk because all these migrating sparrows arrived Thursday and all day today he kept announcing, "What did I say the last time I worked? That we would have white-throats and juncos by Thursday!"

I put down a tempting mixture of cracked corn, thistle, sunflower chips and white millet for the migrating sparrows. There were quite a few white-throats lurking in the brush. The new arrivals weren't as ready to pose for the camera but I did get a shot of lurking white-crowned sparrow (above right), I just love those guys. The orange bill and feet just compliment the gray of the chest and the brown wings and you're totally taken aback by the bold black and white stripes on the head. For a brown bird I think they are quite charismatic. Non Birding Bill thinks I'm nuts.

I had a flock of wierd goldfinches hanging around today. Two in particular were behaving very oddly. First, they preferred the mesh sunflower feeders over the thistle feeders. Second, they were feeding on the ground quite a bit. If that isn't strange enough...what's up with the photo on the left? It almost looks like the goldfinch is begging for food from the house sparrow. The more likely behavior is that the finch is agressing towards the sparrow to keep it away from the food source, but still goldfinches aren't known for their aggressive behavior. The sparrow looks ambivalent... perhaps it regards the finch as many of us regard yippy little purse puppies.

Added Note to this entry: I posted this and Non Birding Bill glanced at it. He saw the photo of the white-crowned sparrow and started to walk away. I told him to come back and see the interesting third photo. To which he forced the reply, "Oh look, you got a photo of the brown bird facing the other way."

"It's a completely different bird!" I shouted. "The first was a white-crowned sparrow and the other is a house sparrow. You were supposed to notice the goldfinch in the third photo."

All he could say for himself was, "Look, you knew going into this that I'm not a birder."

Ha-rumph, I say.