Hanging Out at the Bird Feeder

Backyard bird feeders are great. We have ours right outside of the breakfast nook so the birds are really close and easy to see. It’s quite useful for learning to identify various species by sight and sound. And what the heck, the birds get a free meal out of the deal. All I do is setup my camera and tripod inside the house, open a window and shoot. I use it to hone my photography skills and to try out new equipment.

This Brown-headed Cowbird is common in the US but, a new visitor to our feeder. It’s a small member of the blackbird family. What’s interesting about these birds is that they don’t build nests. The females just lay lots of eggs in several other birds’ nests and let the other birds raise the chicks. The strategy seems to work ok.

The tiny Carolina Chickadee is one of the regulars at our feeder. He more than makes up for his petite size with constant chatter and a busy nature. Mostly they zoom in, grab a seed and fly back to a tree limb to eat. Acrobatic flyers for sure. They’re fearless little guys and will come to the feeder even when we’re outside on the deck nearby.

The Tufted Titmouse is always a favorite. Who couldn’t love those big black eyes and that cute little crest? It’s amusing watching them grab a seed, hold it on a hard surface with both feet and then bang on it with their bill until the seed cracks open. Our wrought iron patio furniture seems to work great for that. They tend to constantly be in motion. Almost as much as the Chickadees.

The Carolina Wren is a regular in our yard and trees. Sometimes but, not often, we’ll see him at the feeder. He’s got a loud voice and won’t take any guff off of anyone. You often see him take a position on a limb, assume a firm posture and announce loudly to the world whose territory it is. They’re small but mighty.


Even though it’s called a “bird feeder”, some of the creatures of the woodlands don’t see it that way. They think it’s an open invitation to the all-you-can-eat buffet. Over the years many smart people have tried their best to outsmart these little guys. Squirrel proof feeder? Good luck with that!

“To call our possum an opossum, outside of a scientific treatise, is an affectation. Possum is his name wherever he is known and hunted, this country over. He is not good until you have freezing weather; nor is he to be served without sweet potatoes, except in desperate extremity.” 
– Horace Kephart 1917

When the sun goes down all the birdies have their beaks under their wings and are sleeping soundly. Even the squirrel goes to bed. But, that doesn’t mean all is quiet at the feeder. Earlier this year we had a new visitor for a few nights. Usually, you see these guys mashed flat on the highway but, they are interesting critters. They are the only marsupial found in the US.

Possum was once considered good eating. Especially in the Southeast US. They were even introduced and raised for food in the Western US during the Great Depression. Noted outdoorsman and co-father of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Horace Kephart, had strong feelings about Possum in his book “Camping and Woodcraft”:

“It is said that possum is not hard to digest even when eaten cold, but the general verdict seems to be that none is ever left over to get cold.” 
– Horace Kephart 1917

…I think that pretty well covers it.

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