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For The Birders

By DALE GRAHAM

I’ve mentioned on more than 1 occasion that I love living in Paradise, (Ranchettes). I did when we  moved here in the 80’s, and I do just as much now. The picture below is just one of the reasons why. My husband has been sending me pictures lately of the turkeys that he sees on his way to work each day. I’m always happy to see them. Last week, I was leaving out one morning, this I came across an enormous (to me anyway) flock of turkeys crossing the road. They were mostly little chicks but they were all beautiful, and made my day as I sat there until each and every one was safely across the road. I love having a phone in my camera for moments just like these.

This column is from October 3rd, 1992. I hope you enjoy.

The migrating instincts of birds vary from species to species, as it does with most creatures. Some birds in our area are only here for the spring and summer. Some only come for the fall and winter. Thanks in part to the abundance of forest in our area, we have many different birds that stay here year round.

The goldfinch stays, although its color changes so much that many people don’t recognize it as a goldfinch.

Another year round bird which is quite abundant in my neighborhood is the busy little White Breasted Nuthatch. I have several at my feeders throughout the day, and I am quite fond of them.

The nuthatch is a funny little bird, short-legged and long bodies, wearing what looks like a blue tuxedo and a black cap. Their flight to the feeders is jerky, with several wing flaps and a glide. Then they grab a seed and take it to a tree branch for cracking and eating. They love to land on the side of the tree where my feeders hang, and will hop head first down the side until they are near the feeder. They make a short, nasal “honking” kind of chatter, which sounds like something you might hear in a kid’s video game.

I use black oil sunflower seeds in the feeders that they frequent, and it seems to be a favorite. There have been a couple of times when, for one reason or another, my feeders have gotten empty. When I have gone out to refill them, these precious little birds come right down the sides of the trees.

For the novice birder, they are sometimes hard to distinguish from chickadees because of the similar color and busy habits of both. To further complicate matters, nuthatches and chickadees seem to travel together. The nuthatch is slightly larger with a longer body type and a longer beak. Its wings extend to the end of its tail. Their acrobatic hopping up and down around trees makes them easier to distinguish also. This behavior is not typical of a chickadee. The female and male are very similar in appearance. In fact, the differences are so slight that I can’t tell them apart.

Nuthatches usually travel in groups, so if you see one, you will probably see more. They are very special little birds that you will grow quite fond of it you get the chance, and I’m sure you will.

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