‘Peter, Peter’ Peanut Eater

The weather has been that perfect mix of Fall here in Kansas- cool nights, warm days, dense rich color.  Combined with a slight Kansas breeze we have watched the vibrant hued leaves drift down slowly, expansively- carpeting walkways, lawn and pond’s edge.  These are halcyon days for the song birds frequenting the feeders and with the mostly leafless branches these little birds are on full display.

It is also a opportune time for Dan and I to assess our feeding set-ups and change things up a bit for the birds.  We have our constant “Squirrel Buster”  hanging feeder (best squirrel denier ever!!).  A flat feeder made by a friend and much loved by the usual ground feeders.  The flat feeder though is almost worn out from the occasional freeloading raccoon and possum scaling it for a midnight sunflower seed snack.  We also put out a carefully monitored suet feeder (raccoon again) and lastly a specific squirrel corn feeder…don’t ask…

What would be a change up for this year?   Thanks to the current Birds and Blooms magazine article on attracting fall birds we decided to try Peanuts.  Sounds simple doesn’t it?  Except I have always thought raw peanuts in the shell would guarantee big birds arriving and shooing little birds off the feeding areas and what tiny bird could fly away with a shelled peanut- let alone get it in its bill.  I was wrong.

cropped titmouse
Tufted Titmouse picking out a peanut.

We don’t even have a peanut feeder (yet), we just set an array of peanuts out on our deck’s small bistro table and watch the antics and ingenuity of particularly the Blue Jay and one of my all time favorite birds- the gregarious Tufted Titmouse.  Now the Blue Jay noisily announces its arrival and with its considerable bill it can hoist a peanut shell up and disappear in a flash.  The “Peter, Peter, Peter” call of the Tufted is silenced as it approaches the deck.  Instead the Tufted Titmouse uses stealth and strategy to pick up the peanut.  I watched as one opened wide, pushed and maneuvered a peanut in its bill.  Another poked a hole in the flimsy shell and with a skewered peanut almost obstructing its view, it hovered like a small helicopter gaining momentum and then off flew.

Sammy Jay and peanut.jpg
We call this Blue Jay “Sammy Jay” in honor of Thornton W. Burgess and his book The Adventures of Sammy Jay, 1915.

Were these birds possibly hiding some of the peanuts as they would disappear and return momentarily ready for another?  Dan began to find peanuts hidden in some prairie grass plantings around the deck and garage… I watched as the Blue Jay would pick up any peanut shell dropped in flight by the smaller birds…  would these birds even remember where their tasty treasure was hidden?

All I know is they or some other little creature will enjoy finding these peanuts on a cold day under cover of dead leaves, maybe snow or feasting now as they bulk up for Winter weather.  Why we could have a small peanut crop next summer…who knows…  So grab yourself a handful of Planters and a fistful of unsalted raw in the shell peanuts for some  of your bird friends.  Just some Fall fun at Green Heron Pond!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Autumn Falls Softly at the Pond

After a poignant end to Summer- the loss of one of my beloved Green Back Herons and the small cygnet from the pond across the way, I was ready for a change of “scenery” to dull the harshness and sense of loss here at the pond.  The summer seasonal shore birds had moved on and had yet to be replaced by our migrant visitors going South with the exception of a Widgeon hen I found eating corn chops on the lawn with the Mallards. Some Orioles and Hummingbirds stopping through for jelly and/or sugar water- bulking up for their long journey Southward to Central America or farther!  And yesterday the tiny Ruby Crowned Kinglet was seen flitting in and around the giant fronds of our Blue Spruce. This little bird and the others are always such welcome visitors here!

Autumn on dock
Early Fall morning @ Green Heron Pond

 

This subtle start to Autumn along with coolness and the misty intermittent rain has caused me to sit on the dock just looking and listening.  The Cottonwoods- ever a favorite except when”raining” cotton fuzz down on us- now a golden yellow and their thick waxy leaves soft.  Breezes lend a quiet sound to their movement on the branches- a soft applause for a season well lived, now over.  The leaves fall unheard into the pond water forming small vessels that swirl, dip and then disappear.   I could stay on the dock for hours just soaking in all the pond’s offerings on these Autumn days.

Ev and Ilya
Evan and Ilya enjoying the dock!

Last week the visitors to the pond were dear to my heart little people and their parents.  I always try to not forget how special it is to wake and view this reverie out the window or catch a reflection in the night off the water’s glassy surface.  But seeing the expressions of wonder and joy on the faces of our grandkids and their parents as they viewed the pond reminded me how incredible this small slice of Nature is and how grateful we are to experience it daily…Autumn on Green Heron Pond.