Hungry Birds In My Hand

A male red-brested nuthatch checking out Papa after it ate out of my hand for the first time ever!

I have been trying to hand feed birds for a long time, and a few weeks ago I succeeded. I started 4 or 5 years ago in Alaska with Appa and Uncle John! Appa has platform feeders that attract Pine grosbeaks and chickadees. I didn’t have any luck so Uncle John said let them get used to the feeder than take the food away. It was very good advice and it worked!

I kept trying at our old house under the power line. The chickadees would be right above me on the powerline but they never came down. Uncle John’s technique nearly worked for me, and I got so close. I think that I should of been closer to the fence or lilac trees so they had a surface to land onto! Nearly every day I would go out with a handful of bird seed and try again and again! I tried for so long that I actully saw a new species, a flock of Red crossbills!

I even tried at the cabin with the Steller’s Jays! I used peanuts because it is their favorite type of nut and when I wasn’t trying to hand feed I would watch them figure out how to use the hanging feeder or just eat peanuts off the stump!

In January, a red-breasted nuthatch ate out of my hand. I was so excited that it finally happened. I never thought that the first bird to eat out of my hand would be a red-breasted nuthatch. I always thought it would be a chickadee. But in February a chickadee ate out of my hand!

Black-capped Chickadee

 While I’m outside I listen to what the chickadees think of me. They are getting more and more comfortable around me so they only say chickadee-dee. I have noticed that the chickadee’s claws are sharper than the red-breasted nuthatches!

Male Red-breasted Nuthatch

I was very excited to have a bird land on my hand. I’m so glad that the birds haven’t pooped on me yet! I learned that the more still you stand and the closer you are to a branch or trunk, the more often the birds will visit and also don’t make any sudden movement!

Female House Finch

They are so cute. Especially the chickadees. I’ll try to feed house finches next. In Pennsylvania I am going to try titmice or northern cardinals!

I think that hand feeding birds is a really interesting and exciting way to feed birds and if you ever try I think that you will think so too!

11 thoughts on “Hungry Birds In My Hand

  1. What great photos, Dottie! Thank you for sharing and posting. You are very lucky to have fed a wild bird. I never got to, but I did rescue a sparrow a few years ago. She got her head stuck somehow, in my feeder! I saw wriggling and went outside and saw she was in big trouble, trying to free herself. From the other side of the feeder, I tried to chip away what was some hardened bird seed. It scared her, but somehow, she trusted me – she had to. After I got her free, I held her gently, then released her right away. I swear the next day, she came back, saw me, “recognized” me and didn’t fly off right away. For that day, anyway, I was her guardian angel. Moral of the story – keep those bird feeders spotlessly clean! That little bit got wet and “glued” itself to the feeder from the lawn sprinklers.

    When I was about your age, I had a pet parakeet. His feathers were very soft. This wild sparrow’s feathers weren’t quite as soft. How do the wild bird feathers feel that you have touched? Maybe you could write about that in a future issue. Keep feeding those birds!


    1. Thank you for commenting!

      It is so cool that you got rescue a bird. Once we carried home our christmas and when we got it all set up a bird flew out of it! It flew around the house for awhile before we opened up the door and it flew out.

      Our feeders never get really dirty exept for the window feeder, but we sort of stopped using that one. Of course the tube feeder make the finches look like they are stuck but it’s just the way they reach their head in!

      It is so cool that you had a pet parakeet! The chickadees feathers are very soft, but I rarely feel them because they are so quick! I sometime get to feel the birds that UMBEL bands and their pretty soft too.

      – Dottie


      1. Hi Dottie! Thanks for your update. Back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth and I was your age, I tried to get wild birds to visit our house. My Grandpa helped me, setting up a box and a stick with a string wrapped to it – so I could try trapping a bird. That wasn’t too kind, but I have always loved birds and wanted to care for them. Here in Southern California, we don’t see the very beautifully colored birds that other areas do. The most “color” we see here in my area are Lesser Goldfinches and Bullock’s Orioles. Both are quite beautiful. Mostly, I see the sparrow type birds.

        You are exactly correct – the bird I rescued DID have her head way inside the feeder port. That experience taught me to take down that feeder and now, I have a much smaller one that the squirrels enjoy raiding! This area used to be full of walnut trees, so Mr. Squirrel and all his friends love to stay here. Mostly, I throw seed onto the lawns, since most of my feathered visitors are the scrounging type. I also put out meal worms. Eww, but they love them! Even squirrels eat them! They must be desperate. haha. Keep up the good work. I really enjoy the drawings and photos.


  2. Good job, Dottie.

    I read your work to Granny Granny. She just asked me to tell you know that oh! Oh! she enjoyed your story and writing and that Poppa is smiling too. She reminded that Poppa loved birds too and would count how many visited to eat seeds left on Granny Granny’s chest freezers on her deck.

    When I shoveled out this morning, chickadees joined me in enjoying the latest snow.

    You make me happy.



    1. Hi Granny
      I am so glad you read it to Granny-Granny, what were yours and Granny-Granny’s favorite birds growing up? I have always loved the chickadees and eagles. I am so happy that the chickadees and you enjoied the snow! We had some chickadees here and we tried to feed them! Their songs are so pretty and the song is especily pretty in the summer when it’s hot out!


  3. Dorothy, I’m so happy for you. What a great experience you are enjoying. I’m hoping when you come to Pennsylvania the birds will eat out of your hand. So proud of your patience and persistence.
    Love you lots.


  4. Good morning Dot….Happy Valentine’s Day… great stories on the bird feeding. I wanted to let you know that Nana and I were skiing yesterday and noticed a lot of Ptarmigan tracks in the snow…so spring is on the way soon ptarmigan will be migrating to the coast for nesting.



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