I have places to go and see today, which means I am here and there in regards to my bird count this fine Valentine's Day. But, as I spoke to yesterday, here is a Tufted Titmouse #B (my count is only 2) going to it's favorite limb to find the treasure waiting for it within the black sunflower shell. Tufted Titmouse #A, goes to another limb. Now, this is not 100% certain as being 'limb specific', but I have noticed them returning to their specific limbs more than once. Titmouse B in this shot has pinned the sunflower shell between it's specific limb branch and its claw.
But, my eyes turn towards the Juncos...of of which there are now 26 in my back yard in various locales. And just as I write, the Coopers is back for another go around. This time it landed on the ground and took a walk. I notice that the backyard cadre of birds usually vacate the premises about 10 seconds before I (being a mere human) sight the hawk. So that is 'instinct' at work. Their senses pick up on predators way before the my dull sense.
20 minutes later. That is about the same time that it took yesterday for birds to return to the feeders after the Cooper came into play.
To revert back to the Junco....The question of the day is
"How does a Junco know 'what is what' on the ground? How does it distinguish between a solid edible seed and one that is just a shell or portion or or a pebble or whatever?"
Doing a bit of research on that, I found they have to establish as quickly as possible (ASAP), what is food and what is not. Obviously by ASAP, it implies before they become food themselves. Research shows that birds develop a SEARCH IMAGE. They know what they are looking for and concentrate solely on that image, that color. So as the sparrows are above in the feeder....they pull out a seed. But watch them next time. Look what else falls out of the feeder as they pull out 1 seed to eat. LOTS of stuff falls out of the feeder and makes it way to the ground. Since the Juncos have a SEARCH IMAGE in mind, they naturally peck away at the shape and color they are looking for and ignore the rest. It doesn't mean that the rest will not eventually be eaten by a squirrel or dove or another bird, but today, right now.....what they are eating has nothing to do with what is falling on the ground unless it matches that SEARCH IMAGE.