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From Bird to Borb

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

I like to look at the individual birds who come to my feeders, to tell them apart from each other. This is my oldest female red-bellied woodpecker. See how she has a brilliant red forecrown (nares) and a rather narrow gray forehead? 

She also has a red V poking down into the gray forehead over on the right. I wonder if she got old enough, if the bright red would spread up from her forecrown and meet the red coming from her hindcrown?
Older females have more testosterone which makes for brighter coloration. Think of red feathering as warpaint. Brighter birds do better in conflicts. Older females can hold their own against rivals better than younger females. 

Right after she left, another female redbelly came. This one is younger, with a limited amount of golden orange, not red, in the nares and a very wide gray crown band. Almost like she's got a really receding hairline, right? 

A starling plumped down on the hook over her head and she underwent a startling transformation.
The bird became...

a borb.

I am not one to use cute names for birds, but THIS is a BORB.

Only when the starling turned its pointy end away did she relax a bit into a birdier shape.

Maybe I can eat a little more, he's busy...

Better keep the blimp going in case he tries to come over here.

Just another gray morning, gazing out at the feeders. I eat my Cheerios first thing, take Curtis on a good hike, fill the feeders, and race into the studio to watch the first flurry of activity as everybody descends and the titmice and jays bear off the peanuts in the shell first.

Fourteen cardinals in a steady count; here are half of them.

The next day there were 26. Exponential cardinal proliferation.
I wonder how they all get the idea at the same time to come to my feeders. Snow smokes out the flame.

This is the time of year I can't do without my bird feeders. I buy six pounds 
of raw suet at a time, slice it up to the right thickness to fit in the Lifelong Suet Feeder, and store it in baggies in the freezer.



Cool to see. I've been disappointed this season, bird activity has been very low. Normal sparrow, junco & titmouse activity, few cardinals, but it's the woodpeckers that don't seem to be around. Just a few downys, nuthatches and the rare red-belly. Haven't seen a hairy or a flicker yet this season. We've had a ridiculously mild winter, hopefully there's just better eats elsewhere. No change in our feeders - one seed and one big suet feeder and an electric water bowl.
We do have a good population of hawks and owls, so maybe they're keeping the population in check. No shortage of squirrels though.

..."normal titmouse activity..." Sigh.

This is delightful!

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Herpetologists: Stop calling it snek!

Ornithologists: Let me explain the difference between a birb and a borb.

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