Over the summer months, I don’t get much excitement at my feeder. I still do put out seed, but at a much slower rate. Plus, most of the really colorful birds, like cardinals and red-bellied woodpeckers, only come around in winter. In summer I get mostly grackles, starlings, mourning doves, and sparrows, although this year I was lucky to have blue jays and northern orioles nest nearby. That added a welcome touch of color and song.
With even the brownest, drabbest birds, it’s fun to watch each new generation, virtually identical in size to their parents, still begging to be fed. Some adults get seed from the feeder and return to the big babies waiting below; other’s gather up bugs from the lawn and rush over to feed their hungry offspring. Then after a few days, the parent birds start to wean the juveniles from their constant full service lifestyle. They don’t seem to be in such a hurry to stuff bugs down those gaping gullets The youngsters find their wheezy cry and helpless wing-flutter combo just isn’t working like it used to, either, so they make a few tentative jabs at the grass for themselves.
By now, the juvvies and the adults have been indistinguishable for quite a while. Even the blue jay babies, at first so awkward and patchy looking as their adult plumage grew in, now look sleek and bossy. They still make daily patrols of the feeder. I hear their loud “jay” calls, and also the one that I call the “squeaky pulley” but in general, there’s just less bird action of every species. I kind of miss having those cute noisy young ones around. Their antics were great fun to watch. I don’t know about the bird parents, but I think I have empty nest syndrome.
Blue jay and grackle photo from Wikimedia Commons