Bird-Brained Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Stupid


Yesterday was Thanksgiving. Since we spent much of the day in the kitchen preparing the meal that we would enjoy with my family and Jody’s Mom, I got to keep an eye on the visitors to the bird feeders.

By about mid-day the suet block was gone. The house sparrows and starlings have had more than their share of the suet block this fall, leaving less for the downy woodpeckers that I want to attract to the feeder. I would not be able to get out to the store to buy another suet block until some time today (Friday) and so it remained empty for some time.

Not to be undone, the woodpecker seems to have figured out a way to deal with the sunflower seeds from the tube feeder, which he does not seem to be able to handle normally. He appears to take a seed and carry it back to the pussy willow tree where a good size branch was cut of at a 45-degree angle. He then appears to anchor the seed on that surface and peck at it until he can get at the meat.

Yesterday’s (Thursday 28th November) Herald News included a letter to the editor from Michele S. Byers, executive director of the New Jersey Conservation Foundation ( The letter is also posted on their Web site. It corrects a long-held believe of mine that robins migrate away from this area in the fall and return in the spring. It turns out that robins live in New Jersey all year long. When they are no longer able to pick up worms and insects they move to areas where berries such as hollies are found and feed on them instead. Then, in the spring when worms and insects become available again, robins move back to our neighborhood (and others like it) to mate and build their nests.

That still doesn’t explain why the mockingbird is still around this week, but that answer will have to wait for another day.

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