Monday, October 23

They Found Me...

I noticed this afternoon that there were birds enjoying the seeds of the amaranth that still hangs behind the Japanese lantern. Watching them reminded me that it was high time I put out my bird feeder--a humble cedar affair with plexiglass sides. I thought it might take the birds a day or two to find me, but food has been getting scarce now and it's cold outside.

Slushy snow is falling, and the wind is blowing, too... and just 15 minutes later, I had lots of "customers." In fact, word got around very quickly that a new kitchen was open, and squabbles were beginning in the lunch line. So I grabbed an empty quart container and filled it with seed, then scattered it across the driveway near the feeder to avoid further hostility.

Most of my feeder visitors are house sparrows, like the little guy you see to the right of the flaming red blueberry foliage in the first shot, but I also regularly see cardinals, blue jays, squirrels, mourning doves (I adore their song), chipmunks, and other sparrows and wrens. I rarely have to deal with the common "feeder thugs," because I don't put out suet--which appears to be the cuisine of choice for common grackles--and mostly provide only black oil sunflowers.

Sometimes I get really lucky... and my bird feeder attracts other creatures not for the seed but for those feeding on it. I know a few bird enthusiasts who get downright upset when the hawks and falcons visit their backyards to dine on smaller birds, for me it's a thrill to see these strong, beautiful creatures. Here's a hawk who had just snagged dinner in my driveway last February. You can click on it to enlarge--she is quite impressive, especially when you realize that bird beneath her is a relatively large pigeon instead of a small wren or sparrow.

One other thing that I was happy to notice today is that the birds are using the rhododendron, the purple ninebark, and even "Brian's rosebush" as landing spots. So many of them loved to use the willow tree that I wrestled out of its home this fall that I was afraid they wouldn't have any good landing spots in the garden this winter. It will be better for them once the ninebark grows larger, but I'm glad to see that they are making due in the meantime.

8 comments:

Carol said...

Hmmm... I put out suet, which may be why I don't get a lot of variety of birds!

Blackswamp_Girl said...
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Blackswamp_Girl said...

Carol, I always saw a couple of different types of birds on the suet, but some of them were always the grackles that ended up driving the other birds away. Someone advised me to stop putting out suet and not use the mixes that had the cracked corn to help keep the grackles away. It seems to have worked, for whatever reason. Even when Brian (my boyfriend) puts out one of those honey-bell things, the grackles don't come around.

I deleted out my last comment post because I couldn't spell... obviously I'm too tired for good grammar, either, so I'm going to bed now. :)

Leslie said...

I hope I'm not repeating my comment...I think it didn't go through. In any case, I think you are so lucky to have the cardinals! I was in Independence this summer visiting my aunt and saw a cardinal in her yard...she thought I'd gone off the deep end when I got all excited. I guess when I was growing up in Bedford I just never paid attention...I sure don't remember seeing them. We're starting to see the Oregon juncoes, goldfinches and white crowned sparrows that hang around the feeders in the winter, but I really envy you your cardinals!

Pam/Digging said...

Your photo of the hawk is nice---not an easy bird to capture as it's usually up high on streetlights, eyeing the ground.

lisa said...

If you ever want to try feeding suet again, try one of these upside-down feeders:
http://www.woodlandhabitat.com/UpsideDownSuetFeeder.htm
My mom has good luck with these, it seems grackles aren't good gymnasts, but woodpeckers and nuthatches have no problem. Squirrels could manage though, so if you hung it from a shepherd's crook with a baffle, you should be fine (as long as the feeder's not close enough to a tree or building for them to launch from.) As for raptors, I like them too...sometimes they sit on my privacy fence and watch the feeders as though it's a buffet. Other times they just zoom in and grab whatever they can. You can always tell one's around-the song birds all sit perfectly still, like they're frozen or something. I just love feeding birds...I do it year-round, cuz' in the summer, they bring their babies and it's fun to watch youngsters try to figure out how things work.

Blackswamp_Girl said...

Leslie, isn't it funny how we take such things for granted when we're kids? My parents' house (NW Ohio) backs up to one of those small patches of woods that were left as windbreaks between farms, and in the spring the floor of the woods is absolutely carpeted with great white trilliums! They barely registered with me when I was younger but now I like to try to catch them in bloom when I visit in the spring. :)

Thanks, Pam! I actually have one or two better pictures, but those all showed my boyfriend's license plates and I have no editing software on this computer. Darn it.

Lisa, now that you mention it i may have to keep up with my feeding throughout the summer!

I did feed the robins this spring and summer... one of my first posts was about that, in fact. They would land about 6ft. away from me as I knelt, digging, and chirp until I noticed them. I would toss them some grubs, maybe even some worms, and they would eat a bit then take the rest in their beaks and fly away. They'd be back several minutes later, chirping again. It was too cute, but I never really got a good picture of it--didn't want to have the digital out there while I was digging and had dirty hands.

Kati said...

pretty impressive, alright! I see a pair of redtailed hawks circling, but always from afar. my attempts to photograph them so far have been really discouraging.

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