Tuesday, February 01, 2011
The Flock of One Hundred
My part of town has been hosting a large winter flock of piñon jays. They travel most of the year in a flock of about twenty or thirty. Up until last summer, they mostly showed up in the fall, when the piñon nuts are ready. But last year, they showed up in late June. Around November or early December, the flock was much larger than the twenty or thirty I could count easily - probably three or more times larger, hence The Flock of One Hundred. They've showed up three or four times since then. A week or two ago, TFOOH showed up, with reinforcements: at least the same number of starlings.
I haven't seen a lot of starlings in Santa Fe. Maybe a half-dozen visit my feeding stations irregularly. The Reinforced Flock of One Hundred has been here twice now. They cover the yard, eat some of the food I've got out, although not as much as I'd expect, and take baths. I have a heated birdbath in the front and a not-heated one that I try to keep liquid with additions of warm water in back. About a dozen starlings go wing-to-wing in the birdbaths, kicking the water up and leaving it filthy. A big component of what they leave is sand.
I had the birdcam set up by the backyard birdbath, hoping to catch a chickadee or nuthatch. What you see is typical of what I got. The birdcam was dripping.