Black Capped Chickadee Joie de vivre

After recently adding more permanent quarters to my trout camp holdings, I hung a couple of suet cakes for the year long bird residents in northern Michigan such as the Black Capped Chickadees, the White and Red Breasted Nuthatches, and the various woodpeckers which are about.

For the first couple of weeks the suet cakes hung ignored and unmolested, at least during the times I was able to be up at my trout camp and monitor them. About three weeks after the suet was hung, the Black Capped Chickdees noted their presence, and would peck away at them multiple times a day. It’s a lovely activity to watch.

At first, it was just a few chickadees, but those few must have been out spreading the word, because in a few days there were over a dozen of them vying to peck at the suet, mostly politely, but there always seemed to be one or two of the chickadees who, when they swooped in, would scatter those already taking turns at peck, peck, pecking the suet cake.

It was a real treat to sit on the deck and watch the chickadees feed on those cakes, especially the suet cake which hung not six feet from me as I sat in a chair smoking a cigar. First one would swoop in and take a few pecks, then another, and another, paying me no mind whatsoever. My wife said, watching from inside the cabin, that it looked like I was some kind of Dr. Doolittle or something with six to eight chickadees flying around me as I sat in my chair.

Having to do some traveling, I was unable to keep watch over the suet cakes for about four weeks, and when I came back up to trout camp the other day, not only were the suet cakes gone, but the cages which held the cakes also were missing in action. I know the chickadees did not make off with them, so I’m suspecting a raccoon, or other intrepid four-footed critter, of which we have many wandering around.

On Monday night, shortly after 6 p.m., I stepped out to the deck to sit for my evening bourbon and cigar, and within 15 minutes I had a few chickadees flitting around me, wondering, I guess, why, if this human was sitting on the deck again, there wasn’t any fresh suet to peck. Not wanting to disappoint them, I went and grabbed some dry roasted peanuts, and scattered a number of them on the deck railing, thinking that the peanuts would certainly interest them. I was surprised, spying the chickadees in the trees, that they did not fly in and investigate, so I just sat patiently, thinking any minute one of the chickadees would lead the way for the rest.

Fifteen minutes went by, and no chickadees came to the railing, though I could see them, and hear them, clearly in the trees. A change of tactics of enticement was called for, so I picked up seven or eight of the nuts and put them in the palm of my left hand, and stood by the railing, arm extended, with the offering of peanuts. I did not stand for more than 5 minutes before one brave chickadee swooped in, perched on my thumb, and plucked a peanut from my palm and flew off to the trees. Then another, and another, dived in, perched on my hand, grabbed a peanut, and flew to the trees.

After those first brave chickadees came and took a peanut from my hand, the peanuts on the deck railing grabbed their attention, and pretty soon I had a dozen plus chickadees swooping in, lightning fast, grabbing a peanut, and then flying off to the trees with a furiously soft fluttering of wings, and happy chattering. I think it was the happy chattering which drew in the nuthatches, though they lack the boldness of the chickadees.

Now, whenever I move to the deck to sit, the chickadees spot me, first one, then a few, and pretty soon about a dozen, and if I do not set any peanuts on the railing, they chatter at me rather reprovingly.

I take as much joie de vivre sitting and soaking this all in, as the chickadees seem to possess in their lives in the pines. It’s quite wonderful!

Comments |4|

In category: Uncategorized