Bear N Mom - Bird Feeder Diary - Aug. 2011
Saturday was a beautiful day and I started out by putting 3 cups of feed into the winter feeder. I had filled the summer perch feeder yesterday and it is still full.
My morning flock came to feed and then I caught a glimse of a female cardinal. I had to go shopping so I left the feeder to do my chores. Wow! I found 45 pounds of Morning Song Bird Mix on sale for $25 at Sam's Club. The blend is made by the same company that makes the Scott's mixture.
One of the 8 pound bags had a split in it so I emptied it into my 5 gal drum and put another 3 cups into the feeder. I then sat and watched for about 45 minutes. I was rewarded for my patience because not only did the sparrows come to feed but 2 different types of black birds came also. These had black bills and speckled bodies. I couldn't move to get my camera but I got to enjoy watching them. Then the hummingbird came back to inspect my hanging planters and the suet feeder before she flitted off again. Last but not least I had a female and male cardinal hanging around my feeders eating off the ground. The male flew up to less than 5 feet from where I was sitting and landed on my porch railing. He only stayed an instant but it was thrilling.
The birds don't seem as hungry as when I first started to feed them. There isn't as much frenzy to get a spot at the feeder now. The mourning doves have been hanging around and they give me a look on the deck when they walk within sight of where I'm sitting.
Sunday morning I was surprised to see two grackles that were walking around under the bird feeders. Then one of them landed on the suet feeder before flying away. Sunday evening the suet feeder was empty so maybe that is my suet eater. No new birds today other than the grackles.
Ok! it was filled with 5 pounds of food Sunday Morning. It's Monday morning and there isn't a scrap left in the feeder. BUT! on the ground under the feeder are seeds galore. So my pretties you will just have to scrounge the earth for your food today. That answers my question. I can't just fill the feeder in the winter and walk away from it. I was hoping to not have to go out on the porch every day but I see I will have to just put out a cup at a time.
My cardinals are both getting bolder and have come all the way up to under the feeders. I have not seen the blue jay but I hear it. The chicadee has been scarce too. But I have a new black bird with beedy eyes and a fuller tail. It's not a starling because it has a black beak. I have not seen the most common birds here in Sharpsburg. I'm speaking of the robins and starlings. They seem to be nowhere around. I know they don't use feeders but I haven't seen them going after worms in my yard either.
I fed them 2 cups late afternoon yesterday and it was gone in an hour. Had a blast sitting on the porch yesterday though. Everything was serene and poof here comes the grey streak with tipper flying up the steps out of the yard and across the porch in hot pursuit. (Yapping the whole way I might add.) The grey streak was my lone grey squirrel that I spotted last week out front. Birds were up and out of there in one swoop of fluttering wings. But nothing, and I mean nothing, will keep them away long when those winged mice eye a good meal.
This morning I gave them 1 cup of food and it lasted about an hour after sun up. The coo coo birds (mourning doves) got their fill from the ground but the sparrows were all but fighting for position at the feeder. Every so often I opened the door so they would swoop away and maybe some of the other sparrows would get a turn.
My birds will have to live with disappointment today. I have a worker coming to work on the flashing and gutters above the feeder. So, there will be no food today. They got along quite famously yesterday with a cup put out in the morning and a cup put out at eventide. I'm feeling somewhat poetic and my birds are my newest interest.
I put out the suet feeder earlier in the week. I have not seen what is coming to it but it was moved one morning and today I see it has been chomped away at. It is about 1/4 of the way eaten.
Well I didn't get any food out yesterday and now the suet container is empty. My carpenter put up the shades so the birds should feel more comfortable coming to the feeder and underneath. I will have to observe them from my middle room window or under the railing.
The rains came overnight and I'm not sure if I will see my birds today. I will give them more than usual since I missed yesterday (2 cups in morning and 2 cups in afternoon).
Well the mystery of who is eating at the suet feeder is solved. I was hoping for some of the winter birds but alas it is also the sparrows. I refilled the feeder yesterday and got the pictures above. So this morning the suet feeder is about 1/8 eaten and I have put in my 2 cups for my morning birds.
I sat very patiently behind my blinds and watched as numerous sparrows came and fought for space at the feeder. A couple of mourning doves came, went and came back again as they were trying to feed on the leftover on the ground. Two brave pidgeons kept coming back also. I got a really good look at the black bird as he sat on one of the poles between the blinds. It had a black bill, black eyes and a speckled breast. It was all black except for the speckles which were a different shade of black. He stayed on the roof across the alley for a bit and then I noticed him on another roof with something long dangling from it's beak. Mama cardinal flew in and walked under the feeder. I guess she didn't find anything to her liking because she walked across the alley and then flew away.
We had a terrific storm on Friday that all but ruined my porch decorations. It also made my decision when to change over to the winter feeder for me. The summer decorative feeders were sopping wet and not a good place to add additional feed. I took those down and made a blind for me to sit behind behind and observe. The blind is my porch area rug that I hung over the bannister to dry.
First thing this morning I threw some of the regular seed mix onto the ground to get my birds coming back. Then I filled my winter feeder with berry and nut mixture on one side and regular seed mixture on the other. The new feeder holds up to six pounds of food. I filled it halfway to see how long the feed will last.
The seeds on the ground were a success and I had the sparrow flock back within minutes. Lo and behold, the female cardinal came to investigate also and made her way cautiously along the ground. Three of my mourning doves were among the happy eaters. Since I have been trying scare off the pidgeons I also scared the femal cardenal and she swooped away.
Then I hung the new feeder. Wow! Right away I got a hummingbird investigating. So sorry my friend but I don't have one of those feeders up. Then the male cardinal showed up. I also saw a bigger black bird up on the roof across from the feeder. It's a different breed because it has a fanned tail.
It didn't take long to have the whole bunch of my birds trying out the new perches on the feeder and this looks like a success.
My neighbor who also feeds the birds told me that my winter feeder should last about 3 days if I fill it. Well I put enough to fill it 2/3 full yesterday and it's all gone. Today, Sunday, I put what was left of my 5 pound sack in it and we will see how long that lasts. I had hoped to only have to fill it every few days during the winter but it looks like I either have an awful lot of birds coming or they are flying piggies.
Odd and Ends
Our home is just a few blocks from a Boy Scout Reservation and still I have not seen much wild life roaming around my neighborhood. Just last week, after living here 10 years, I spotted a grey squirrel on our street. True our neighborhood is separated from the woods by a major highway so there is less chance to see a bunny or raccoon even though they live just minutes away. I have spotted a cottontail rabbit a couple of blocks closer to the reserve.
Once on my way home over the back way closest to the reserve I spotted a red-winged blackbird sitting on a rail. I'm hoping that my feeder will attract them but I'm not too encouraged that they will come over.
Before my husband passed, he spent many an hour on our front porch watching the hawks fly over the rock formations above the highway. It was most interesting to watch them teach their young how to fly. There are about 5 or 6 that do their acrobatics above our house and the highway catching whatever they can find. When my neighbor had a small dog that would be in the yard, my son came home to find a hawk sitting on their fence just waiting for it's chance to scoop up the dog.
I sat very quietly this morning's damp predawn darkness and listened to the various songs of the birds around me. There were at least three distinctive different songs. As I sat there, a larger bird swooped past and landed on the wires above. I couldn't tell if it was the cardinal or the tanager. The very first bird to come predawn was the song thrush. I notice that this bird does not go to the feeders. It forages on my porch deck or under the deck for fallen seeds. I sat there for almost an hour and one by one the sparrows started coming in. Then the mourning dove came down with her soft coo as she landed. The sparrows were good and if they landed on my banister, a nod of my head would get them off. I know it's my own fault for putting my feeders so close to the porch but I'm trying to not ruin the fresh paint. I only saw one thrush this morning as she made her way from the log stone garden surround to under the feeders. Later a second dove swooped in. The whole flock lifted in one swoop and I wasn't sure what scared them. While they were away I got up and came into the house to give them their privacy.
I never realized that there were so many varieties of sparrows. There is even one that closely resembles my song thrush. Now I'm not sure if it is a song thrush or a song sparrow. The song sounds like a thrush.
I sat and decided I have 3 distinctive types of sparrows at my feeder in the least. Two mourning doves came around this morning. Had to leave for work before the feed was gone so that was all I saw this morning.
My sparrow flock is here and I don't see any others today. I'm deciding when to change over to the winter feeder. Perhaps around the beginning of September to get them used to it. I plan to only fill it every three days unless I see the piggies with wings have depleted it sooner. Then I will fill it more sparingly instead of to the top.
I was blessed that I had so many birds coming and no pidgeons. Today a couple of pidgeons came to forage under the feeders. The only time my dog disturbs the birds is when these big birds show up. I think I will add some walnuts to the fruit and nut blend and see if I can attract that blue jay to come down. Years ago when I was feeding the black squirrel in my neighborhood the blue jays started stealing the walnuts out of the bowl. The squirrel had no fingers on one of it's paws. It would come to my screen door and hang off the the screen guard to tell me it was hungry.
Patience is a virtue and much needed to watch birds. My song thrush is getting bolder and coming closer while I'm watching. The sparrows were flighty all day Saturday. The kept flying away in one mass swoop and returning one by one. I don't know what was bothering them except for me sitting in my usual place. One lone mourning dover pecked away under the feeders. None of the other variety of birds came around. The only wonderment was watching mama feeding a fluff of soft feathers. The little one kept swishing it's wings waiting for it's sustenance. When it didn't come fast enough it started pecking at the fallen seeds.
Early Sunday morning the rains came in a flash of lighting and thunder. Once it had passed I loaded up the feeders for the day. I left for church and when I came back the feeders were all but empty. I sat and watched for a little while and my favorite song thrush came to visit under the feeder that I fill with a mixture of seeds, berries and nuts. As I sat awhile longer I was surprised by an unmistakeable chicadee call (the link has the call and song on the side). There it was flitting between the hanging flower poles and the feeder pole. Giving me a nod it went on down to the berry/nut feeder and started to pick at what was left over by the other birds. Off it flew on its way with the flit, flit, flit type of flying that chicadees do. Satisfied that I had seen my birds for the day I started into the house only to be surprised by my chicadee calling at my back. I gave it a glance and then gave it the privacy of the feeder by going into the house.
While I was sitting out mid-afternoon on my deck, a new bird arrived on the scene. I thought it was a scarlet tanager but upon further research it seems to be a Hepatic Tanager. It took some research by way of the scarlet tanager and then the summer tanager. Those pages led me to the true sighting, my hepatic tanager. The map for these birds seems not to match but this is the closest coloring for the bird that came to my feeder. The summer tanager map seems closer but also does not include Pennsylvania in it's areas.
My neighbor is having as much fun as I am watching the hundreds of birds who flock in each day. He noticed a different bird. It was my song thrush. I tried to get pictures today but my camera batteries were low and they were all blurry. That's probably what happened to my picture of the lady cardinal.
No new birds today. My neighbor dropped off a bag of popping corn to add to my nut and fruit mixture. I sifted it through the mixture. My flock of sparrows were plentiful on Tuesday and I saw one of the mourning doves. I didn't catch sight of my cardinal, song thrushes or blue jay. But I see a black and white cat lurking around. Tipper my dog is on watch for that little predator.
I saw two mourning doves this morning along with the sparrow flock. I noticed a black bird hanging around but not coming too close. I could hear the blue jay but he never poked his head into view. Mama cardinal is getting closer. The link will take you to information about northern cardinals.
Mama cardinal is getting right up to under the feeders but has not tried to perch. I have identified the black bird as a Brewer Black Bird. I could be wrong about the species of black bird but it certainly is not a starling. It differs from the starling because it has a black beak. The Starling close in color has a white beak.
I'm so excited because I finally got my photo of the song thrush. The link takes you to the melody sung by this bird. I thought it was a mockingbird for a few years before I had my feeder because I could only see it up in a fir tree above the house across the street.
Nothing new to report. Same birds are coming and my flock of sparrows are all happy campers.
I kept filling the feeder on Saturday but it rained and the birds came when I wasn't out. I saw mourning doves on the wires and a lot of sparrows but no other birds ventured out on Saturday to my knowledge. The feeder is empty. One lone blue jay flew over and landed on my porch roof above me and then moved across the street. He has not ventured down to the feeders yet. I also have one female cardinal who visits regularly but doesn't come up to the feeder. She scrounges along the alley for what she can find.
I also bought my winter feeders on Saturday. The red one above is vinyl and will withstand the weather. I really bought it because you are not supposed to feed birds at metal feeders in the winter because they could stick to the metal and injury their feet. As you can also see I bought a suet feeder for winter use also. I'm starting to stock up on my feed so that I have a good supply for winter.
Sunday morning, I looked out my window and was surprised to see four mourning doves wandering around the ground under my feeders and two of them made their way to the feeder pole and feeder itself.
When I came home from church I filled the feeders for Sunday. My porch and the feeders are alive with what my Dad called mice with wings. The sparrows are everywhere. There has to be at least 25 or 30.
First 2 Weeks
When I first hung my bird feeders I had some knowledge of what to put in them. I used a nut and fruit mixture in one of the feeders for bird such as Cardinals, Blue Jays, etc.
In the other I used a regular bird feed mixture for sparrows, martins, starlings, etc.
I started out over feeding the birds to get them used to the location of the feeders which is within 6 feet of where I sit to watch them eat. It certainly takes patience because the birds are constantly flying in and flying out again while they get used to the location of the feeders.
Now I'm feeding the birds 1 cup of each mixture a day and the number of birds hasn't increased so much as they kinds of birds that are coming around has.
I now see a female cardinal on a regular basis. The chicadee came to visit early on and jumped from bird feeder pole to hanging planter pole and then to my banister singing to me.
I get regular visits from a Song Thrush whom I have not been able to photograph. His striped breast and spiky brown tail differentiate him from my hundreds of sparrows that visit each day.
This morning I had a trepedous visit from a blue jay who flew in, sat on the garage roof across the alley, flew to my porch roof and away again. He will be back. If I have learned anything about blue jays they are fierce when they want something and I have seen them chase squirrels away from the food they want.
The Mourning Doves are plentiful around my home but I have only seen one or two coming to the food I put out.
That's all for today -- be back soon with updates on the birds who make my feeders a regular stop and my plans for winter feeding of my feathered friends. This is a work in progress and will be added to as I see something new or on a daily basis.
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