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.