Serendipity. What a cool word that is! It means good fortune or luck. Serendipity is one of the reasons I keep my feeders filled all year long, continually change things up, and try new things. When it comes to backyard bird-feeding, you just never know who might show up! This has been one of those summers. I have been enjoying daily visits by a family of Brown Thrashers. What a cool bird they are!
If you have not seen one, picture a slender, robin-sized bird with a really long tail. A prominent yellow iris gives the bird a startled, alert expression. Beautiful, elongated brown spots on a creamy breast rival the best of the woodland thrushes. But the standout feature on a Brown Thrasher is its gorgeous, cinnamon colored head and back. When I see that sunlit cinnamon color flying into the yard, I think: “Here comes my Cinnamon Girl!” (and I hear Neil Young singing).
My Brown Thrasher story really begins a year ago. We noticed that a pair of thrashers had made a nest in a multiflora rose on the border of our lawn. I know, the rose is an invasive, non-native plant and I should remove it. You would have to see the size of this shrub to understand what a prickly task it would be to cut it down. And thrashers’ preferred nesting sites are low, dense shrubs. We enjoyed watching the comings and goings of our visitors last summer.
This year they are back, but not in the same rose shrub. While we have yet to discover the nest site, what is different this season is that they have discovered the feeders. We regularly see them at our platform feeder placed directly on the ground, as well as under other pole-mounted or hanging feeders, foraging on dropped seeds. What is unusual is that they are uncommon seed-eating feeder birds; they are serendipitous feeder birds! The website, The Birds of North America Online, talks about thrasher’s preferred foods in this order: insects, fruits, berries, and nuts. Considering that various feeders in my yard contain Aspen Song Ultimate Blend, Chickadee Mix, Just Desserts, and Nut & Fruit Woodpecker Mix, and they each contain generous amounts of peanuts and tree nuts, it makes sense that my avian friends have found good eats at the feeders!
The other contrast to last season is that the parents are bringing their young to the yard. We have watched Mom or Dad (they look the same) sweeping the ground under a feeder with their decurved bills until they locate a morsel, then offering it to an anxious youngster who has been alongside all the while, watching (and hopefully learning) the technique. So keep those feeders filled through the summer months. You never know when “serendipity” will bring you a pleasant surprise.