Saturday, November 14, 2009

Grey gang [On Bushtit Day].

It's a grey day, a calm amid a seemingly endless series of storms, and bushtits are roaming around the neighbourhood in large, amoeboid gangs, but being so tiny, opposed to say, Snow Geese, remain below almost everyone's radar. No one is writing the newspaper to complain.

They are everywhere and nowhere, thus a challenge to photograph. They're like blowing leaves or flying ash. Even when they land they squirm around, often dangling upside-down. Probably the easiest way to get a picture is to stake out a suet feeder. [Coincidentally, that link is from exactly a year ago. November 14 is Bushtit Day!] But it would be nice to frame them in a more more natural setting. The birds in the pictures were plucking something (insect eggs? tiny galls?) from apple leaves.

Affronted female.

Females have pale irises. Those of males are dark.

How much of their lives do they spend hanging upside down? You have to be tiny to do it so often, otherwise you would pass out and fall from your twig.

9 comments:

Dave Ingram said...

Nice photos Hugh - we've had bushtits at our feeder here on Vancouver Island but like you say they're pretty hard to photograph. Entertaining to watch though!

randomtruth said...

Hadn't heard of Bushtit Day, but I do enjoy the little guys. I see little flocks in my backyard and up at the Sierra place. Even got to watch a group bathing recently.

And they do love to hang upside down! They must weigh next to nothing too - they barely bend delicate flowers when they land to sip nectar.

Hugh said...

Dave,

I keep a suet blog going all winter, primarily for the bushtits.

Hugh said...

rt, Those are great images. Quite the party. Everyone, check out the bathing bushtits!

Victoria said...

I'm relatively new to this blog, so I'm still playing catch up with the old posts. I have to say "Winter Bushtits are like the Borg--many bodies, one brain" really cracked me up! Bushtits are lovely - they periodically blow through my mother's lilac tree during the summer.

Sally said...

Other than these posts (incl your links), I've no idea what a "bushtit" is-- but Happy Bushtit Day anyway, Hugh... and thanks (esp for the suet series, very cute, "poof" and all).

Earl Cootie said...

We were around to see our local Bushtit Army fly through the yard on Saturday, but I didn't realize the significance of the occasion. Happy belated Bushtit Day!

spinyurchin said...

"...like flying ash."
That is so perfectly put.

Sally said...

Ahhh, yesterday and today, we finally have bushtits! (Two, and briefly.) Took me a while to figure them out-- they're so impossibly tiny!

Thanks, Hugh.