Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Bucket List Project #1: Progress Reports


It happened! A chickadee accepted seeds from my hand today! Twice!

I just wrote in the previous post that I was temporarily postponing this project due to illness. However, I could see from the window that so many birds were visiting today that the morning seed ration was nearly gone already.

I went out to refill the feeder and thought, What the hey. I'll give it one quick go. And that was all it took.

I rested my arm outstretched on the rail under the feeder, as usual, with sunflower seeds and shelled peanuts in my palm. Within seconds, I had visitors. Both nuthatches and chickadees landed on the rail and began hopping toward me from both directions. At first, they darted to the feeder and sped away.

Unable to move a muscle, and keeping my eyes nearly closed, I heard and felt the experience more than seeing it. "Chick-a-deee-deee-deee!" sounded practically in my ear, and the flutter of wings overhead. Furtive hopping on the deck rail ... aaaand ... the quick tickle of a seed being seized from my hand! And again, only a minute later.

This may not have helped my asthma much, but it did wonders for my spirit. Things can only get better from here.

 Day Whatever. I've Lost Track.  

This project is on temporary hold while I recover from a bad cold that started the day after Thanksgiving and has since turned into an ongoing, major asthma episode.

I have been hanging around the feeder for a minute or two after filling it in the mornings, just to keep the critters used to seeing me. But now is not the time to be standing out in the freezing air.

I'm not giving up; in fact I am hopeful that once snow covers up all the other food sources my chances will improve.

I'll keep ya posted as things progress, OK? But daily ... not so much.

Day Six: Happy Thanksgiving!

I don't know why I didn't think of this before: Since the chickadees don't have a problem with going to the feeder with my face practically in the thing, why not try just holding the feeder? 

I don't think there's going to be time to try it today, but first thing tomorrow I'm on it.

My new daughter in law is doing Thanksgiving at their house today - a first! I'm bringing pie and snacks, and that's it. It feels weird, not doing it all myself, but what a relief.

Hope you all have a fabulous meal and a day filled with laughter!


Day Five: Wednesday, November 21

It was seriously foggy this morning, and again there were few birds. I kept an eye on the feeder while making pie crust for tomorrow's big do. When a couple of chickadees showed up, I went out and assumed my post beside the feeder, arm outstretched on the railing, palm filled with seeds and nuts.

Strange as it may sound, I am beginning to enjoy the discipline of standing perfectly still, waiting for whatever nature will bring. It is like a meditation of sorts, an end in itself.

My reward was a chickadee nearly landing on my head! I actually felt the brush of its wingtip on my cheek. It perched on the rail, about ten inches from my face, and looked into my eyes before hopping onto the feeder and choosing a seed.

The little birds continued to come and go as I set up my camera to photograph this milkweed seed, caught in the remains of a hanging basket and bejeweled with dew. It's progress, don't you think?

Day Four: Tuesday, November 20

No birds are visiting the feeder this morning. And it's raining. I could go stand out there as an exercise in optimism, I suppose, but I'm just not that dedicated.  I did leave a seed pile on the spot where my hand would be, hoping they'll become accustomed to looking there.

This is not going nearly as well as I expected. Have any of you tamed wild birds? Any tips or tricks?

Day Three: Monday, November 19

Epic fail. Without the bait pile of seed on the railing, the chickadees landed on the far end of the rail and on the feeder right next to my head, but nowhere near my hand. Surprisingly, a nuthatch seemed very interested in me, though. Maybe I'll have better luck with those.

It's a work day, so my time was limited for standing perfectly still with a fist full of birdseed. Tomorrow: Maybe if I put my hand out the other way, near the feeder?


 Day Two: Sunday, November 18 
Yesterday I started working on a modest, but long-postponed goal: Taming wild chickadees. Specifically, to train them to eat from my hand. They were so fearless and friendly yesterday when I put up the feeder that I figured I had this one in the bag.

I was so eager to try it this morning that I got up at dawn. I donned my winter coat, filled the feeder, and took up my chilly post right next to it. (They had ignored me there yesterday.) I put a little pile of seeds on the deck rail about three feet away from me. (They came to one placed there yesterday.) Then I filled my palm with choice morsels and laid my arm on the rail, my hand about six inches from the pile, and waited. And waited. And waited. No birds. NO birds at all.

Arm fell asleep. Went back inside for coffee. Came back out and tried again when birds began to show up. Succeeded in scaring away all but the chickadees, which made a few exploratory circles around my head and left. 

Went back inside for breakfast with the hubby and discovered he had set up a camera on a tripod at the kitchen window, just in case. I'm never happy about having my picture taken. But my annoyance was short lived, as he had also made bacon. It's hard to stay peeved with someone who is giving you bacon.

Back outside again. Assumed the position. This time, two chickadees landed on the railing and considered me for a minute or so. I held very still and didn't make eye contact. One then flew to the feeder, about a foot from my head. The other went for the pile of seeds - just six inches from my hand! So close, so close.

Tomorrow - no seed pile. Just seeds in my hand. I'll update this post to let you know how it goes.


Linda Myers said...

They'll be back. Tell your husband to keep the bacon coming!

Daryl said...

love that your husband set up the camera .. hey if a bird had decided to sit in your hand you'd have photographic proof .. and you got BACON!!!!!!!!

MyMaracas said...

Linda - he'd be only too happy to do that, if I'd let him.

Daryl - you're right, of course. I would have wanted a photo, bed-hair and all. And there was the bacon. So he can stay.

Rambling Woods said...

I've never tried to hand feed any of my yard visitors, but I guess the dees would be the natural place to start. I just love them... Happy Thanksgiving Vicki....