Your Bi-Weekly–‘Tiny Moment’

From Lydia Vogt, SVBC Executive Officer

For many of us who are not full-time residents of San Vito, the many bird interactions we enjoy in Costa Rica can feel like a great loss during the months in our non-tropical homes. We settle for less colorful and abundant birds that are usually more prosaic, not as showy, and seldom spectacular.  But Tiny Moments do still occur, and if we’re persistent we stay aware and find our lives peppered with avian interactions that can provide joy during our daily mundane existence.  Here are a few that I have noted this summer in the hot, dry chaparral of the back country in San Diego county.

An early morning walk, before the temperature rises to drive you indoors, flushes a covey of a dozen California Quail from the sage bushes beside the trail.  Their wings thrum as they flee their hiding place and disappear into nearby plants.

A White-breasted Nuthatch, one of the more unique visitors to the sunflower seed feeder, gains access by walking straight down the side of the large camphor tree, flitting across to the feeder where he grabs one seed from the dish, and then rushes back up into the tree to ferociously hammer at the shell until the tender reward is pried out. Repeated endlessly, with time-outs for occasional bug searches in the deep furrows of the tree bark.

The arrival of the migrant Lesser Goldfinch, joining their year-round cousins, brings seating reservations at the Nyjer Cafe to a premium. As the level of seed plummets in the feeder, it is obvious the Maitre d’ has fled, and opening seating, with shoving and pushing encouraged, has ensued. The tube feeders become battlegrounds. 

The winner of the oddest behavior has to go to a small flock of European Starlings in non-breeding plumage, trying to find an afternoon meal in the parched grass of my lawn.  With the thermometer stuck at 100º all are hot and thirsty, and the starlings are panting with their long pointy beaks wide open.  So every dive into the grass looks more like a Nightjar than a songbird.  If they are lucky and find a grub, the beak is closed as they bring their head up.  The unlucky fellows straighten up with beak still wide open, giving the birds the look of a group of mad seamstresses attacking the grass with open scissors.