Orioles, catbirds, robins line up for grape jelly

August 29. 2014 7:32PM

IN RECENT columns we have written about Hazel, the fledgling crow that was picked up a year ago by a long-time reader.

The young crow was soaked with rain and standing on a state highway in northern New Hampshire. Last fall Hazel joined a flock of migrating crows and left with them. In recent columns I reported of her return this year. Our reader’s recent letter records her latest adventures as follows:

“Just a little about Hazel. She has been coming in every day. She comes in the house and most of the time she pays us a visit. After I feed her some burger she flies across the field to some pine trees.

May 31, there was a lot of racket on the back side of the corn field. The crows were really after something on that morning. Hazel never came to us that day nor that week when called. I told my daughter I thought that something had got her that Saturday morning and it may have been a hawk or owl who had enjoyed a nice crow dinner.

“On June 6, she did return to a burger feed and used the bird bath. Someone told me she might be on a nest, but I didn’t think so. She stayed all that day. While reading my paper she sat on the back of my chair or on my shoulder. Her toenails are some sharp!

“Another crow sat in a tree down the driveway calling. Hazel flew to another tree and the other crow followed her. Hopefully in the fall, when food gets scarce, she will come back. I call her every morning and do get a crow to talk back to me, but she has not returned.”

It sounds to me that now Hazel has really become a mature, wild crow.

Bluebirds in Colorado

Bluebirds were on the mind of longtime reader and correspondent, Karen Metz. Her latest letter from Franktown, Colo., read:

“I wanted to let you know that I found Eastern bluebirds nesting here in Franktown. I volunteer at Castlewood Canyon State Park. I was on a breeding bird survey and twice saw the male. I went back in the afternoon and saw the female try to fly to him. She had a permanent brood hatch patch, so I waited and watched. I saw a tree cavity in a dead ponderosa pine. Apparently the Eastern bluebirds were taking anthropoids and insects to their young.

“This was the first nesting bluebirds in that park. I wish them well and I wish you well.”

We thank Karen for this report. Because Eastern bluebirds rarely nest as far west as Colorado, I found Karen’s experience was interesting to learn about.

Grape jelly gathering

A Derry reader wrote: “We have enjoyed reading your weekly column for several years and have learned quite a bit from you.“I wrote to you a couple of years ago about hummingbirds and orioles. We have enjoyed feeding the hummingbirds for a few years. This year something new has occurred. We have two feeders up and a female Downy woodpecker will come and drink from the hummingbird feeder several times a day. She will stay for several minutes and really seems to enjoy drinking the sugar water mixture.

“Also we have placed a dish of grape jam on the railing of our deck. Every year we seem to attract more birds. We now have several pair of orioles that come along with their offspring. Also catbirds and occasionally robins. There is a line-up of birds waiting in our oak tree for their turn at the grape jelly. One day I observed three female orioles at one time around the dish sharing the treat. At other times there is a squabbling. The dish is quite a draw for so many birds. We get up in the morning and they are all waiting for a new supply to be put out. These orioles, too, like the female Downy woodpecker, are frequently at the hummingbird feeders as well as chickadees.

“Also this year we have a hummingbird that greets us with a couple of soft tweets. She hovers at the back door and gazes in. Also I have seen her looking in the kitchen window by the sink and she has also hovered by the picture window in the living room saying, ‘Hi, how are you?’

“We wish you good health and we thank you for your love of nature and all you teach us.”

Since there are so few orchard orioles reported in our area, I assume our reader is referring to Baltimore orioles. Why the name Baltimore? Mrs. Mable Osgood Wright wrote in her book, “Birdcraft,” published by The Macmillan Company in 1936:

“There is a bit of history as well as tradition connected with the naming of this splendid bird. George Calvert, the first Baron of Baltimore, who penned the charter of settlement in 1632 of the country which now comprises the states of Delaware and Maryland is the subject of the tradition which still lingers in Maryland, and has sufficient facts for a foundation to be credible.”

Stacey Cole’s address is 529 W. Swanzey Road, Swanzey, NH 03446. “Stacey Cole’s New Hampshire: A Lyrical Landscape” is available at Amazon.com/books.

OutdoorsNature TalksNew HampshireSwanzey

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