Sound like your favorite novel? Feeding the dough-y bird suet best known as, 'Zick Dough', is every bit of that and more.For those of you who may be unfamiliar with it, the suet nickname refers to infamous blogger, NPR commentator, author, artist, naturalist, Julie Zicklefoose, an experienced bird feeder who has made the recipe renown with her observations about her feathered patrons.
I made my first batch less than two weeks ago and just before our Tennessee thermostats plummeted into single digits. So far it’s given me countless giggle breaks as I've peeped out the window to see what’s going on out there. And there's always something going on.A titmouse was my first taker. He grabbed a chunk of the peanut-buttery suet and devoured it on a nearby limb. And the suet attracted the first blue jays I’ve seen near my feeders.
They were cautious about approaching the feeders, but eagerly snatched the tidbits scattered on the ground. A parade of other suet lovers has followed, among them, the frequent visiting white-breasted nuthatch, a pair of Downy woodpeckers and flocks of juncos.
The happy chattering of this Carolina wren usually brings me to the window. It’s a sound that reminds me of a giggling child or the purring of a contented cat as he chows down dinner. I watched him grab a bite of dough, drop it to the ground, jump down to gobble it up and hop back to the plate for another helping. A couple of days ago, instead of chatter, I heard him scolding. I looked out to find him perched over an empty plate. Visitors had come in the night and cleaned up all the leftovers leaving behind plenty of scat on the ground.
Hmmmm. Raccoon? Opossum? It didn’t look like any scat I found on the web. I became more judicious about handing out dough and started bringing the suet plate in at night. Then last night, a sound outside the door. I turned off the inside light and flipped on the porch light to take a peek and look who I found.
Kind of cute, huh? But I think ‘pure trouble’ is a better description. His buddy sauntered off when he spotted me in the window.
I know these guys to be crafty and tenacious. Racoons are responsible for the heavy blocks weighting down trash can lids around here. The good news is the hanging feeders are still unscathed. But I'm guessing there'll be challenges ahead.
Note added Jan 31st: Be sure and read the comment section regarding the night time pellets. There's a good chance that instead of scat, these pellets are castings left behind by a 'possum instead.
For the Love of It...
...the sage sees heaven reflected in Nature as in a mirror, and he pursues this Art, not for the sake of gold or silver, but for the love of the knowledge which it reveals.