Clark Hollow Ramblings: Pecking order 

The cold weather and ice has caused us to stay in more than we like. Perhaps you, too, are getting tired of crossword puzzles or reading “War and Peace” or whatever blows your shirttail up during the winter. I have decided to try to write down the pecking order (pun intended) at the bird feeder.

I will leave out the nearly-white skunk, the raccoon and the deer (several of them) who come only at night, and usually knock at least one of the feeders to the ground. I will also leave out the squirrels. Up until lately, there was only one, and we tolerated his bullying of the birds and let him sit there until he couldn’t hold one more sunflower seed. Now, he has been joined by a partner, and my bride says this is too much.

The squirrels seem to sense that they are not welcome, or maybe they are aware of the very real possibility that they might become the main ingredient in a delicious pot pie, and don’t stick around when they see us at the window. The birds just fly up in the tree, but the squirrels take off like old Lucifer himself was after them. And maybe he is. Or just maybe they know that the two main gifts my bride got for Christmas were a gun and a skillet.

And I’ll also leave out the crows. Just as an aside, do you know how hard it is to shoot a crow on a bird feeder without blowing the feeder to pieces? It’s not easy, but the co-op has more bird feeders.

The top bird is a red-breasted woodpecker. Yes, some would call him a red-headed woodpecker because he has a red head, but we are certain of the identification from two or three different bird books. As the little fellow used to say on the TV commercial that was hawking karate lessons a few years ago, “Nobody bothers me.” And that’s the way the other birds treat the woodpecker. They leave him alone.

The next fellows are the blue jays, and we have lots of them. They are pretty much in charge when the woodpecker is absent. After that it would have to be the red-winged blackbirds, and we have them all winter. They do not seem to be particularly aggressive, but the cardinals and juncos and chickadees and titmice and sparrows and finches all let them feed when they arrive.

After that it’s pretty much a free-for-all and time for me to make another trip to the co-op for more black oil sunflower seeds, if for no other reason than to fatten the squirrels up for whatever fate may befall them.

And we have already seen one big, fluffed up robin in the top of the dogwood tree. I hope that means something. Until next time, stay warm and watch out for the ice.

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Richard Brady
About Richard Brady 128 Articles
Richard Brady was born and raised within sight of Rappahannock Peak, as was his father, grandfather, great-grandfather, great-great-grandfather, etc. He graduated from George Mason University and was employed for 35 years with various agencies of the federal government. He retired in 2001, and he and his wife, Linda, live in Flint Hill, Va.