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Hungry, Hungry Chickadee

Most of the red meat we eat in this house is venison, hunted each fall in northern Minnesota. My husband filled his tag early on the first morning of deer season this year.

Once he did, he had a bunch of friends that will probably disturb some people. The blue jays, gray jays, and magpies all flocked around him, barely able to contain their impatience until he gutted the deer and created a nice little pile of offal to feed them.

The following is a still from a short video my husband took very shortly after gutting the deer. Tucked below the fold for the squeamish. Click on the picture to get to the video.

Chickadee perched on the edge of a deer's open belly.

Ben really is as close to the deer and the bird as it looks. This wasn’t the bird’s first run. The chickadee was ignoring Ben entirely in concentrating on gobbling down the lovely fresh fat the carcass offers. If he’d held out a piece in his hand, he probably could have recreated a scene from Snow White, albeit more gory.

People who think about what happens to the gut piles in hunting season tend to think of wolves and mustelids and raccoons. We forget about birds unless they get as demanding as the jays or as incautious as that chickadee.

My aunt and uncle have hung post-butchery deer carcasses off their deck as impromptu feeders. They haven’t been disappointed. Those cute little birds around you may be dinosaurs, but most of them aren’t the vegetarian sort.

Comments

  1. sumdum says

    [quote]If he’d held out a piece in his hand, he probably could have recreated a scene from Snow White, albeit more gory.[/quote]I pictured it in my mind, made me chuckle. I like dark humor.

  2. sgailebeairt says

    its just VERY fresh suet….i guess a lot of people dont think about what suet blocks are made from!!

  3. Trebuchet says

    “Click the picture” isn’t working for me. I was just thinking about this this morning, as I watched a chickadee working on the suet feeder. Which I’m about to go take down to save it from the dagnab raccoons, since it’s getting to be evening.

  4. slowdjinn says

    Sometimes even newly-butchered isn’t fresh enough for them:
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2817260/

    Highlights:

    [..]tits specifically and systematically searched for and killed bats. Extended pecking on the bats and substantial removal and ingestion of flesh, brain and other organs suggest that the birds were killing the bats for food and were not, for example, in competition for roosting sites in the cave.

  5. kevinalexander says

    When I finish with the dental floss that takes the bits of T-bone from my teeth I use the floss to hang said T-bone from the tree outside my window.
    The tiny black-capped dinos pick the last bits of protein and fat.

    It’s a circle of life thing.

  6. Mattir says

    Well, I know what I’m going to do next time I butcher a sheep, or when we have our community deer management hunt and DaughterSpawn and I help the hunt volunteer gut the deer and haul them off for processing to give to the local food pantry…

  7. says

    @sgailebeairt #6 – Good point. It is easy to forget that “red in tooth and claw” can apply to pretty little song birds, too, especially as winter is closing in and choice of calories is getting limited. They are flying dinosaurs, after all.

  8. lactosefermenter says

    Black-capped chackadees are bold little birds that can even be enticed to take sunflower seeds from your hand in winter when food is scarce.

  9. numenaster says

    Yep, just because the chestnut-backed chickadees will answer me when I “dee-dee-dee” at them doesn’t mean they wouldn’t cheerfully try to eat me if I looked helpless enough.

  10. says

    I used to talk with a guy who did tests on black-capped chickadees.
    If I remember correctly, what he did was to put contact lenses on one eye of a chickadee and let them pursue their winter seed storage habits, then switched contacts to make them use the OTHER eye.

    The result (again, if my memory serves) was that he determined that they could not remember where they stored seeds if the eye they were using when they stored them was covered and the eye that was covered when they stored them wasn’t. They seem to have eye-specific memory.

    Dunno how that applies to deerses though.

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