Monday, January 9, 2017

January 9, 2017

Location: Fellsmere,  my bird feeder

I suppose it is arguable, but personally I think the painted bunting is the most beautiful bird in Florida. I have been worried this year. They usually start coming to my feeders around October or November, we even had them as early as September once or twice. But this year we had a hurricane and by the time I put the bird feeders back up, I thought my painted buntings had given up on me and gone elsewhere for their noshing needs. But alas! Over the weekend my honeybee told me there were some in the yard, so I ran out and topped off my feeders and today there are at least 2 males and one female out there. The females and males have very different plumage, but it's pretty easy to tell that they are related to one another1.

We first moved to Fellsmere in 2006. It wasn't an easy move for me, I was used to the single life up in Rockledge, everything was close by, I had a big beautiful house. But things change, we got married, my honeybee's job was just too far away to commute every day, and since I work from home I could live anywhere. But Fellsmere? The middle of nowhere? We didn't even have a Publix back then.

So I was here and pretty miserable for about the first 10 months. I had put up bird feeders that attracted nothing but squirrels (affectionately known as $@#$%@#$% squirrels).  But then, one day in late autumn, I saw a flash of color on my feeder. Then another, then another. Apparently the Painted Buntings knew that I wasn't happy here and stopped by to cheer me up. We have had between 8-15 birds every year since then, making Fellsmere a much brighter, happier place to live.

Sources: (1) Birding With Dee video, "Are Those Birds Related?"

Photo and text © 2017 Dee Fairbanks Simpson

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