Bear N Mom - Bird Feeder Notes 2015
2015 Strategy for bird feeding and watching
Since I started watching our feathered friends, I've continued to feed the birds in our area over the winter months. Each day I would go out onto the deck, draw up the awnings, and fill the feeder with an assortment of seeds. I like to buy the assortment for songbirds which is rich in sunflower and saffron seeds. If I can't get that I go for a gourmet blend with peanuts and fruits.
As the winter progressed, I was having more and more difficulty in getting my favorite blend and a few times I had to mix my own by buying and mixing regular bird seeds with a bag of sunflower seeds. The sparrows came over the winter to the feeder but I did not see my cardinals. I have since discovered that you can tell if the birds like the blend by how much is stewn on the ground instead of being eaten. On the ground it is fair game for the pigeons and other larger birds who don't land on the bird feeder.
This Spring I talked to the person who orders bird food in the produce department of our supermarket. Though trial and error, he was able to stock a nice variety of better bird seeds.
My first strategy for this summer was to buy flowers that would attract humming birds and butterflies since I had seen hummingbirds at my previous plants. I bought two beautiful fuschia hanging baskets because they are supposed to attract both. Besides that, I will be able to take them in over next winter and let them go dormant to be brought back out next Spring. So I am going to be able to continually attract those birds.
My second strategy was to move the bird feeder to a place closer to a window where I could observe the comings and goings of the birds in our area from my computer right inside the window. If I stay really still they come and go as they please.
Early Spring Visitors
As was expected, my first visitors to the new location were the not so skittish sparrows who come in flocks bringing their chicks with them to be fed individually. Its so much fun to watch the hatchlings fluttering the small wings and begging to be fed. Mama sometimes has two that are both fluttering and peeping for food.
The red headed sparrow has been back regularly and I love to watch this bird that I understand is actually a house finch but mostly resembles the sparrows.
The starlings with their white beaks are also regular visitors. I hear the mocking bird but I haven't seen them at the feeder yet.
The Cardinals and Jay Birds
The family of cardinals that visits is one that I have finally been able to capture in a picture. In years past they have been too elusive to photograph because of the location of the bird feeder.
Both the brilliantly red male and the brownish female with her orange beak regularly visit. They come mostly in the early mornings so I need to have the food out first thing to be able to see them. I have seen what looks to be a smaller female cardinal that I think is a new born this season.
I hear the blue jays calling out their warnings from the multitude of trees in the area but I have not seen them at the feeder. The closest I've come to seeing a jay bird is a grey jaybird that landed on the roof of the house behind mine as I was sitting on the deck.
As I write this, mama cardinal has arrived for her daily visit. She is being skittish today and I think the light being on behind me has made her nervous of coming closer than across the alley on the fence. Sigh! She has flown away to come back another time.
The mourning doves come along every day to pick their way through what is thrown out of the feeder by the sparrows. They mostly climb in and out of the box planter that I positioned below the feeder to catch the seeds that fall from above.
I love to listen to their cooing sounds in the early dawn which I mistook for and owl. That's not to say that there isn't an owl in the area.
We first had these bird on our back porch before I turned it into a deck and the perch was disturbed. Mama Mourning Dove would make her nest on the top of a column that stuck out and gave her a perch. I would hear this song as she hatched her babies.
Listen to the Mockingbird
I've been listening to the mockingbirds for as long as I've been feeding the birds in Sharpsburg. I've watched their antics as they flit up and down in a sketchy pattern.
They first caught my attention as I sat on my front porch and listened to their distinctive repetitive songs. I spotted them above our house on the hillside flitting up and down on the top of a fir tree. It would then swoop to another tree and bounce up and down between the songs it would sing.
The mockingbird looks like a sparrow in most aspects with one distinction. The ones I've seen which must be northern mockingbirds that have a much longer strait tail. When it is open you can see a white bar on the underside of the tail on the two outer sides.
Robin Red Breast
As I sit out on my deck in the seclusion of the early morning, I listen to the various calls of the birds. I never realized what a beautiful song the Robin has.
Not only is this the first bird to come out in the morning but it sits and sings a beautiful song. This bird reminds me every morning of the saying, "The early bird gets the worm." That is because Robins don't visit my bird feeder but are ever present in my yard looking for food.
Wrapping up May 2015
The weather has been all over the map this month and that has led me to feed the birds almost daily in my new location. One day is warm and sunny and I have to water my fuschia plants early because I don't expect any rain. The next is mild rain turning into thunderstorms which drenches everything. Somehow the birds come out even in the rain, especially the sparrows.
My family of cardinals have all been visiting the feeder daily. Mama seems to come more than Papa but there are variations so I'm not sure if I have more than two. In the past the cardinals have not ventured to the feeder but would grab what was thrown out onto the ground by the sparrows. This year, I saw the female cardinal fly up to the feeder and perch. I guess they like the new location that is along the side of the deck in a hidden corner.
The sparrows and my red headed sparrow are daily visitors and their chirping goes on all day long in frequent intervals.
I have seen a few adventurous starlings who come and perch the get at the seeds. My newest blend is Gourmet Delight and has a nice blend of nuts that includes seeds, saffron, sunflower seeds, shelled peanuts and what appears to be small almonds. I mixed that with the Song Bird Blend which was running low,
The robins bop along in my yard but they don't visit the side with the bird feeder. We have chimney swifts that swoop around doing their fancy dives but they too don't visit the bird feeder.
I have a few mourning doves that walk around the rock garden below the feeder gobbling up what is thrown down by the sparrows. When I first started feeding the birds about 5 years ago, there were dozens of pidgeons that would force the littler birds away from beneath the feeder so that they could gobble up the seeds. This year I have only seen one that is distrinctive in appearance and I'm not seeing more than one.
I haven't seen any hummingbirds at my hanging planters yet. Maybe it's to early in the season for them because I have only seen a couple of butterflies so far and the fuschias are in full bloom.
Right now I'me watching a sparrow family urging their little one to fly. They are sitting on the fence across from my window fluttering at the little one. There he goes. We have another fledgling trying out it's wings. My guess is they have shown him where the food is and now he is on his own to get to it.
As we moved on into June, I noticed that the red headed sparrow (finch) continued to visit the feeder as well as the other more common sparrows.
I haven't seen too much of the cardinals but they come in from time to time. I have seen the starlings and the mourning doves. There are four doves that continue to come around the same time every day. I haven't had to replenish the feeder as much. I notice that the feeder stays full longer even though the sparrows continue to visit.
Today, June 11, we had a new visitor to the neighborhood. It was a black bird slightly larger than the starling with a black beak. It didn't get close enough for me to positively identify it but it may have been a grackle or a martin. It flew over the yard next to mine and landed on the house roof. I could see it definitely had a black beak and was an all black bird.
It's mid-June and I notice that my favorite red-headed sparrow comes almost every day now around evening. When the awnings are up he sits in full view on top of the plant hanger I'm using for the bird feeder which is right in line with my vision. When the awnings are down for rainy weather, he does the same and I can still see him just below the awning and above the railing. It's as if he stops to say thank you for his bill and fare. I've seen him at other times but when I sit on the deck around dinner time, he seems to come and just sit there for several seconds before flying off again for another day. I haven't tried to get a picture because I don't want to scare him off.
Moving right along in July, I continue to see the cardinals and there are now two new additions to that species. I saw two fledglings at the feeder along with the adult birds. The female has all her markings but the male is still growing into his full red plumage.
By doing some online research, I've discovered that my favorite red headed sparrows are actually House Finches, There are now two of them that usually come together and sit atop the shepherd's hook until they can get into the feeder. I think God tells them to stop there so that I can appreciate their beauty and they are saying, "here I am -- I'm back."
I needed some supplies from the hardware store and found a great 1/2 price sale on bird feeders and replaced my tired and beat up red one with a double bin and two landing trays. The birds were skittish at first but have started to land freely on the new feeder.
The outdoor project was completed mid July with a new stepping stone pad laid beneath the outer edge of the deck. I can now feed the birds without having a mess of wild flowers growing out of the seeds that are spread all over the ground under the feeder. The old flower trough continues to catch the seeds on the short side of the deck and serves as an additional feeder for the birds who don't like to land on the feeder platforms.
It's the third week in July and today a couple of blackbirds showed up prancing on the ground near the feeder. They were not starlings because they had black beaks. The heads were kind of shiny and almost a purplish color but I'm thinking these two were Brewers Blackbirds rather than the Purple Martins. I think this because Martins catch their food while flying and not so much on the ground. I've seen these birds before but this is the first visit for this year.
July 26: I went down off the deck to water the hibiscus and disturbed a chickadee that was at the feeder. It flew across the alley and lit on the fence just long enough for me to identify it. All four cardinals now visit regularly and are in full plumage. As you hear so often in life, they grow up so fast.
July 28: The bird feeder was jammed with a large piece of fruit so I went out to fill it and to dislodge the piece that was stuck and holding back the seeds from flowing through. After I was done I sat down for a few minutes and caught movement out of the side of my eyes. It was to my delight a hummingbird investigating the hibiscus. It flutter around the one flower that had bloomed today and is closing up. Conclusion: It's the little things that excite me.
Over the summer the sunflower seeds that fell from the bird feeder started a plant next to the feeder. It is now grown to an even level with the bird feeder.
Today, I noticed that the sparrows are using the branches as rest stops as they wait their turn at the feeder for seeds.
The chicadee is now a daily visitor and hops about from the sunflower to the feeder. I was afraid he hurt himself today because he flew into my window before he went to the feeder.
I missed a photo opportunity this morning. Papa Cardinal was feeding a fledgling on the fence across from my window. I first thought it was a male and female sitting together until the male started to feed the other bird. The younger bird was all browns and didn't have a distinctive orange beak yet.
It's the last week of August and the birds have all but abandoned my bird feeder. I can still hear them and see them flitting about in the air but they are not visiting the feeder. Only the younger pair of cardinals swoop in and out regularly. All of the sparrows are busy in the neighbors surrounding vegetable gardens. I can hear them and in one yard I can see them. They visit every day and sit on the rungs of the fence surrounding the vines that are all but bare at the end of the season. We will be starting over for the winter season when I take in my hanging planters and hang other bird feeders in their place for the winter foraging of my winged friends.
Persian the Kitty listens to the birds
My California Spangled cat has taken to meowing at the door to be let out while I'm on the deck. I let her out while I'm there and she snoops around the deck. I have the sides of the deck blocked in so that she can't get down but I see her perched on the ottoman with her head cocked towards the bird feeder as she listens to the birds. If she gets too frisky, it's back in the house for her.
It has been a wonderfully adventurous summer so far watching the newest brood of birds come to my feeder. Hopefully, August will bring me more adventures.