A Moment of Bliss: Hand-feeding Wild Finches (a short video)

Their hard little feet feel cool on one’s fingers, and despite sharp bills they are gentle feeders. The large red bird is a male Pine Grosbeak. The golden-yellow one is a female. The smaller birds are Pine Siskins. Both species are finches and at times are abundant in the village of Chignik Lake.

This past summer we placed skepticism aside and purchased a couple of clear plastic window feeders – the kind that attach to a window by means of suction cups. We didn’t know whether our resident seed-eating passerines would take to the feeders. Our main source of reservation, though, was doubt that they’d stay up. We get some fierce winds here at The Lake as well as hard freezes, and UV rays can make short work of plastic that is constantly exposed to the sun.

plastic window bird feeder

The feeders drew customers within a few days of installation.

But here it is, the New Year on a windy, snowy, freezing January afternoon and our two feeders remain firmly in place. With occasional soap and water cleanings, they’re as good as new. As many as 60 or so finches come around at a time, impatiently waiting for a turn at the feeders. This has prompted us to order a third.

Thus far, the feeders have attracted 12 species of birds. In the feeders:

  • Pine Siskins
  • Common Redpolls
  • Pine Grosbeaks
  • Black-capped Chickadees
  • Golden-crowned Sparrows
  • Black-billed Magpies (which we generally shoo away)
  • A lone European Starling (the first – and last – of this species to be documented this far down the Alaska Peninsula)
  • Downy Woodpeckers

Taking advantage of seeds on the ground below:

  • Dark-eyed Juncos (both Slate-colored and Oregon races)
  • One or two White-crowned Sparrows
  • a Tree Sparrow
  • and one lonely Snow Bunting

Oh! And Red-backed Voles and a lemming!

red-backed vole chignik lake

Shy little fellow, we often find voles – or signs of voles – where birds are being fed.

Window box bird feeders

That’s my computer on the left side of this photo. While writing and editing photographs, I now not only have a view of Chignik Lake, I sit a mere three feet from constant avian activity. It has been fascinating to have such an up close and personal view of the birds and to witness behaviors and characteristics I’d never before noticed. For example, one could make a study of the various hues of Redpoll caps and beak shapes.

Our dining table – a three-foot tall, window-heigh pub table – sits just to the right of the photo. It’s been a pleasant part of our day, dining along with the birds and the birds dining along with us.

Notice the translucent maple leaf affixed to the window. All of our windows are adorned with similar leaves and bird silhouettes in order to help birds be aware of the panes of glass, thereby avoiding deadly collisions. We encourage everyone to install similar decals on any clear window – home, school and place of business.

7 thoughts on “A Moment of Bliss: Hand-feeding Wild Finches (a short video)

    • The voles tend to be nocturnal feeders, but early in the morning we sometimes get a glimpse of these secretive little beings. Very occasionally foxes, too, come around to lap up seeds. Hope your year is off to a good start!

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