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Floral Notes: The birds and the bees [and other bugs]

Community Columnist

Indian corn in its various autumn colors is irresistible to me, and something else also found it so. I heard persistent knocking on my front porch, but never found anything or anyone there. After a few days, I noticed half the corn hanging on the wall was only cobs, no kernels. The culprit was discovered, with a bit of spying from a secret vantage point, to be Blue Jays. This year, the corn is displayed indoors.

In late spring, my feeder stocked with hulled sunflower chips becomes overrun by grackles and other blackbird relatives. Also, a giant raccoon was eating a very expensive meal every night despite greasing the pole every day. Finally, I ran out of feed, which is purchased in 50-pound bags at Buyea’s, so switched to safflower seeds. This is slightly more expensive, but lasts longer because the Blackbirds don’t like it. Turns out raccoons don’t either; whew!

There is a painful learning period while the Grackles dump food on the ground in their search for what they remember was in the feeder. The cardinals and mourning doves [chipmunks and squirrels, too] will clean up after them.

I feed the birds through the summer for the sight of baby birds, now fledged and as big as their parents, begging for food with flapping wings and open beaks. Birds surprised me many times with what else attracted them.

A Northern Oriole, flashing his orange and black plumage was spotted by a friend and me while we picked flowers one morning in June. We followed his progress through the trees and watched him land on the hummingbird feeder and sip the sugar water as he precariously balanced.

While feeding my goldfish, the geese jumped in the water, losing a few wing feathers, which floated on the pond. Barn swallows were feeding when suddenly one swept down to scoop the large feather from the surface. As he rose into the air with his prize, a rival attacked, trying to steal the feather.

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