Hand-feeding the Birds

This outing is so local, it’s right in your own backyard!

watch the full-length video here

All summer long, the birds are busy…Much too busy to be bothered about coming down to eat out of your hand! In fact, the chickadees and nuthatches are largely relegated to the background for the summer, drowned out by sweet little visitors who spend a few short months singing and mating and raising families, gathering in all the many-and-varied bounties of the Maine countryside in warm weather. The treetops are full of their activities, and they are such a joy to watch, their songs such a joy to hear, their bright lives such a joy to observe. But as the nights turn cool, and that hint of chill returns to the Maine breeze, these little visitors take warning of all that the Maine winter promises and wing away to warmer winter lands. 

But the chickadees and nuthatches return to center stage in this season, and they are ready to get ready for winter!

a Black-capped Chickadee waits on a branch for hand-feeding
a Black-capped Chickadee waits on a branch for hand-feeding

This drive that makes them so busy to collect as many stores as they can also makes them willing to investigate every outstretched hand for signs of sunflower seeds, an absolutely favorite staple for their months ahead.

And so we wait, with outstretched hands…

a pair of outstretched hands, holding sunflower seeds, waiting to feed the birds

And the chickadees visit in cheerful family groups, whirling about in great flutters of wings, socializing and chatting, perching momentarily on fingertips, cocking one endearing, bright-eyed glance at these slightly-suspicious creatures offering irresistible gifts, and quickly winging away with their prizes. 

a Black-capped Chickadee takes sunflower seeds by hand
a Black-capped Chickadee takes sunflower seeds by hand

And the nuthatches visit, one at a time, feisty and self-assured, settling lightly into a palm, scolding away approaching chickadees, gazing searchingly into these funny human faces, slowly testing and discarding seed after seed before settling on the perfect morsel, and then launching off to secret storehouses.

a Red-breasted Nuthatch takes sunflower seeds by hand
a Red-breasted Nuthatch takes sunflower seeds by hand

(And while we were all distracted with the birds, one funny little Red Squirrel took the opportunity to wash his face in the drinking water. “No one saw that!”)

a Red Squirrel washes his face in a small pool
a Red Squirrel washes his face in a small pool

Confused about these days-and-times? Do something simple! Maybe buy a little birdseed…Maybe just sit for a quiet moment in nature…And see what comes to hand! Amidst all the storms and chaos of the world today, feeding the birds is time well-spent.

a Red-breasted Nuthatch takes sunflower seeds by hand
a Red-breasted Nuthatch takes sunflower seeds by hand

To read more about our treasured little Black-capped Chickadees and Red-breasted Nuthatches, visit these Audubon pages:

https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/black-capped-chickadee

https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/red-breasted-nuthatch

by Sydney Michalski

Leave a Reply

search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close