[midvalleybirds] Logsdon Ridge

Carma Sue Henry cshenry at bywordofmind.com
Sat Jan 11 18:45:56 PST 2020

I think I've got a Vesper Sparrow coming into the bowls of seed we put out under dry spots on the patio.  Do they mix in with the Junco/Sparrow flocks at times?  I'm having a hard time deciding if it's not just a lighter morph of a Song Sparrow (which do come in), but the white swoop under the auricle makes me wonder.  This would be my first Vesper, so if you have any opinions...I'd like to respond to 'Susie in NW Corvallis' 's comment: "Have seen both the flicker and a downy woodpecker feeding off a tube feeder surrounded by a cage holding sunflower chip. Was surprised by the downy." One of our suet feeders hangs adjacent to a long, round nyjer thistle feeder made of small gauge metal mesh.  Another hangs adjacent to a black sunflower feeder that has a  'squirrel excluder' feature that's made with a tube of screening on a spring loaded mechanism.  The Flicker, Downy and Hairy WPs who come in usually land on these first and scout the area by making circles around them before deciding it's safe to go to the suet.  If some thing nearby seems a little threatening, they hide on the backside of the longer feeders as if they were uprights of a tree of shrub.  They're a nice circumference for 'hide and peek' and the mesh makes for good footing.  Also, after they're done with the suet, the go back to the mesh covered feeders and wipe their beaks clean.  At first glance, it looks as if they're trying to get the seed, but it's just beak cleaning.  Our suet feeders in Seattle hung in the midst of a very large old Indian Plum bush and the Flickers and Downys (no Hairys) used the thicker uprights for the same purpose.  Indian plum bark also does some lateral peeling as it matures, making for excellent paper-towel-like beak wiping.  Lots of other suet eaters (Chickadees, Brewer's Wren, Townsend's Warbler, Stellar's Jays, Bush Tits) used the uprights of that Indian plum to keep their beaks wiped off as well and I'm sure they will appreciate any soft, rough surface they can cling to for that purpose.  However, the Goldfinches don't appreciate getting chased off their nyjer seed feeders by Woodpecker bullys.  So I've been trying to think of some alternatives.  I think hanging a 2-3 in diam by 10-12" long branch of Western Juniper would work really well as they have nice rough bark that doesn't slough off.  All around Malheur area, Juniper is being taken out (see:  https://oregonexplorer.info/content/getting-the-root-the-problem-juniper-removal-and-upland-restoration-oregon?topic=203&ptopic=179  for an excellent expalanation) and a lot is just lying on the ground.  Next time we're on the other side of the mountains (though, it may be a while as my hubby's folks are 94 & 97, and most of our travel of late is quick trips between here and Hillsboro - lots of opportunities to stop at Basket Slough) I'm going to look for a few chunks. Good for 'hide and peek' and good for hygiene.Carma Henry

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