Feeding Chickadees on the Beaver Trail

I hadn’t been on the Beaver Trail in the Stony Swamp section of Ottawa’s Greenbelt for quite awhile so decided to take a look around that trail today carrying my Nikon D300 equipped with my vintage Micro-nikkor 1:3.5 f=55mm nippon kogaku japan lens.

Nippon Kogaku (Nikon) 55mm f3.5 Micro-Nikkor

Nippon Kogaku (Nikon) 55mm f3.5 Micro-Nikkor

It was icier that I expected and I had to revert to a bit of a duck walk in a couple of locations to keep from slipping. The beaver house area was still frozen solid, but a great deal of the snow had already melted.

I had a small packet of sunflower seeds with me and decided to try an experiment, the result of which was already known with quite a bit of certainty. My observation over the years has been that the local chickadees, although quite willing to come to a person’s hand to feed, can be quite picky about what they want. For today’s experiment, I put out a few black sunflower seeds and one piece of crushed corn.

One after one, the chickadees arrived and made their selection. After each visit, the piece of crushed corn remained. When the crushed corn was the only bit of food remaining, the chickadees still came, took a look at it, and left it there. Conclusion: chickadees prefer black sunflower seeds over crushed corn.

When a young girl and her family came along the trail, I decided to continue the experiment a bit. In this instance, the young girl had millet seed and some other small canary-type seed but no sunflower seeds. I added black sunflower seeds to her mix and soon the chickadees were arriving. In this instance, the millet and other small seeds were left behind in favour of the black sunflower seeds. Conclusion: Chickadees in the area prefer black sunflower seeds over canary food.

Using a similar approach on other occasions, I have noticed that the chickadees prefer the small black oil sunflower seeds to the larger striped sunflower seeds but when given a choice between black sunflower seeds and cracked peanuts, the cracked peanuts will likely be chosen first. They are less excited about the uncrushed peanuts.

I finished my short circuit by returning along the Chipmunk Trail.

About Ron

Ron has long had an interest in photography and traveling and, in recent years, has had more time to devote to both activities. Long a Pentax user, Ron switched to Nikon gear when he went digital. The advent of the digital SLR camera, and the ease of the internet blogging process, has provided a venue for sharing his photography and travel experience at the local, national and international level. More about Ron
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