by Rob Ulp
Brighton, NY August 2016 Piliated
We have had a large male visit our suet feeders over the past 16 months or so. Often he visits several times daily. In July 2015 he showed up with a son we named Junior and we enjoyed the feeding and flight lessons until it was just Dad again in early August.
This year he surprised us with a son and daughter we call The Kids. Their activity around being fed by Dad and the transition to claiming the feeders themselves was fun to watch for us. The female was sometimes bullied by her brother when competing for suet from Dad, being chased around the large Basswood trunk near the feeders.
The young female accidentally discovered the birdbath but quickly drank and in time plopped right in. She soon developed the classic bathing antics. Her first attempt to fly off as a very wet bird did not go well due to the added weight. She quickly learned the shake, fluff and preen routine after subsequent baths and would spend some bit of time at this on the trunk of a nearby Hickory. The males would have none of this, not even to drink. Dad seems to be alone again this early August.
In two years Dad has showed up with only 3 young. We have never in 16 months seen an adult female. Hawks? How sad if true. At dusk this evening we discovered 2 nocturnal Southern Flying Squirrels busy at the feeders and while remarkably semi-tame and beautiful, I fear the end of suet feeders is upon us. The flavored blocks with seed that nearly all birds here enjoy will be wiped out by these bold little guys at night. We have never seen these before and easily approached to within 5 feet. Well, we shall see what this brings to us.