Saturday, March 30, 2013 Hand-feeding Pine Siskins and Redpolls

Seward Sporadic Bird Report

"When you can't be with the one you love, love the one you're with!"
Stephen Stills

Since I haven't been able to find Zorro, the SIBERIAN ACCENTOR, I've been enjoying the mobs of COMMON REDPOLLS and PINE SISKINS draining my feeders, chattering in the trees, and hopping on the snow.

It's a pleasure to share them with family and friends. I drape an old towel across laps to both protect clothing and provide another place to sprinkle birdseed. Then I place a small handful of mixed wild birdseed in each outstretched palm, and step back to enjoy and photograph the show.

At first, one wonders if any birds will come to the patient but unusual bird feeders. The birds sit quietly in a bare Mt Ash nearby, watching. Then first one, then another brave bird, usually a Pine Siskin, drops down and lands on a finger, and begins choosing and devouring the most desirable seeds. Then another flies in, and another and another, the din of bird calls increasing by the second. Soon they are landing on hats, sleeves, knees, boots, and scrounging between the boots. Several landed on me, my camera, and strap before dashing off to feed.

Smiles erupt as the tiny beaks tickle fingers and palms; they are amazed at how light and tame the birds are. Usually the Pine Siskins dominate the hands, chasing off all others, but occasionally one will share with up to 3 others. The Common Redpolls try to get on, but more often have to content themselves with the lap or deck offerings.

After a few minutes of intense activity, the birds lose interest, leaving nothing but the undesirable red millet. After a quick refill, the whole show repeats. It is a thrill to interact with these busy, beautiful birds!

Afterwards, just be sure to wash your hands.

Check out this recent video by Kris Peck of Common Redpolls, a few Pine Siskins, and a flash of Varied Thrushes mobbing a popular bird feeder in Seward:

Happy Birding!
Carol Griswold
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter

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