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Sunday, December 16, 2007

This Morning's Birds

A small sampling...

Cardinal, towhee and chipping sparrow.

White-throated and chipping sparrows and a pair of cardinals.

2 male cardinals.

20 chipping sparrows (roughly.)


Erik Donald France said...

Beautiful. A Cardinal couple was hanging out behind my apartment. Hopefully they escaped the big blizzard.

Marvin said...

Its always interesting how male cardinals can be such great pals during the winter, but mortal enemies during breeding season. This is true of many species, but is just so obvious when those bright red birds are "hanging out" together.

Lana Gramlich said...

Erik; Birds can be very resiliant. I'm reminded a flock of geese on Lake Erie that survived being buried alive in snow for 4 days!

Marvin; Most of the 20 or so cardinals that hang out at our house these days grew up together this Spring & Summer. They're starting to get obnoxious toward each other, but are still somewhat tolerant. In a few months I'm sure we'll see a totally different picture, where that's concerned.

Charles Gramlich said...

I saw a couple of birds on the walk that looked almost like Robins but which may have been russet towhees.

Lana Gramlich said...

Charles; Could very well be robins. I've noticed a flock of about 20 hanging around work. Last year we had about 100 picking around our yard. Besides, I only typically ever see one towhee at a time--never more than that.

Shauna Roberts said...

Lana, what do you do to attract birds to your yard? We've put up several feeders and a bird bath, and we don't have close neighbors to disturb them. Even so, we don't have as many morning visitors as you do.

Lana Gramlich said...

Shauna; In the past, I've also had various feeders out--the raccoons ripped all but one down on their first night out. My sole survivor is starting to show signs that it may be defeated by raccoon action soon, & although it didn't really stop the squirrels, at least it's lasted almost a year.
I also had a bird bath out, but the birds preferred the puddles, so I converted it into a hanging feeder. It doesn't keep the squirrels at bay, but the raccoons haven't been able to mess with it, either.
Other than that, I just buy big, cheap bags of mixed seed & sunflower seed, I mix in some extra sunflower with the mixed & I throw it out on the tree stumps in the yard (one main that's still in the ground & 4 lesser that were cut from the main one when we felled a dead tree,) & some on the ground. Sometimes I augment the seed with leftover popcorn kernels or crumbled up old cake/bread & occasionally chopped fruit (although the last tends to freak out the songbirds & attracts mainly woodpeckers, blue jays & crows.)
Mainly I just had to persevere. I'd started feeding the birds last fall, but when the raccoons ate everything without me ever seeing a single bird, I soon gave up. I started up again in the winter & regardless of who came for the seed, I just kept putting it out. I was on the verge of giving up again when the locals suddenly started coming around. This past spring, the local birds all brought their chicks by to feed & teach them (i.e.; 2 pairs of cardinals turned into 20 cardinals practically overnight.) We also get our share of migratory birds, probably by sheer luck.
Perseverance is key, though. Keep at it & the birds will eventually come. Once they do, they get attuned to the times you put out seed. When I go out (typically around 8:30 every morning,) they're all around, twittering here & there, waiting for me.
The numbers I get may also have something to do with the fact that I live pretty much in the middle of the woods, so there are lots of birds around. There's lots of underbrush nearby, so they have a place to hide, if they feel the need. The birds also get a good view all the way around from my hanging feeders & stumps, so that helps them feel more secure about eating here. I also don't see too many feeders around our immediate area.
How long have you been feeding? What kinds of birds do you get? I'd love to see some pictures!

Julie said...

Lana - before I forget - I'm starting to put a few bird site links on my sidebar under Virtual Tour.

boulthamere has got some lovely shots on it - chap who's a warden at a bird sanctuary near Peterborough North of London.

Lana Gramlich said...

Julie; Thanks for the info! I'll have to pop over for a "gander." ;)

Shauna Roberts said...

Thanks, Lana, for your long discussion of your bird attraction odyssey. Right away I see that I have been too impatient—we have only lived here three months and did not get the feeders up right away.

We live in what counts for "out in the country" here. However, we're surrounded by naked mountains instead of the forests I'm used to, so there may be fewer birds per square mile.

Our most common visitors are white-crowned sparrows and other sparrows, along with a few finches and other birds I don't recognize (different fauna here in Calif.). Lots of hummingbirds visited our yard even before we put up a feeder, and we get two or three species of those. I've planted several hummingbird-attracting plants, which I hope will bloom next spring. A black phoebe frequents our yard but snubs his beak at the feeders. We also have at least two greater roadrunners who hang out here, and occasionally a hawk stops by to check out the feeder visitors.

I'd love to take pictures of them, but so far only the hummingbirds tolerate my being close, and then only certain individuals. As they get used to me, photographing them may get easier.

Lana Gramlich said...

Shauna; Yes, sounds like you might have fewer local birds than we do. An interesting mixture out there in the west, though! We certainly don't get roadrunners, although we do get the occasional hawk or vulture. You may want to invest in a local bird guide. We have a couple, but my main reference is "The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds--Eastern Region."
I don't put out hummingbird feeders, as they attract bees (which I'm deathly allergic to.) That doesn't stop them from checking out the red candle holders we have out on the deck, however!
Although I've tried planting various flowers & plants in the yard, nothing ever came up & most of what started out alive died. Kind of ironic--the land here supports the woods gladly, but is just too hard for flowers & many other plants. I don't worry about it, in any event. Parts of the local underbrush bloom at different times of the year. Combined with the woods all the way around, that's good enough for me.
My birds aren't very tolerant of pictures, either, but I'm fortunate in that the narrow window in my back door acts as a blind that I can shoot from. It helps, of course, that I can zoom with my new digicam & that sometimes the birds will land in the tree just outside of the back door.
Keep at it, at any rate! As I've said, perseverance is key. :)

Shauna Roberts said...

Thanks for your encouragement, Lana. I will keep trying different things. Maybe one day I'll be able to post some pictures of our local birds or even of some of our coyotes (who seem to come into the yard primarily at night).

The Zen Birdfeeder said...

Towhee - lucky you!

Lana Gramlich said...

Shauna; I look forward to it!

Zen birdfeeder; There's been a pair around here for most of the past year, although they don't show themselves every day. I think we're seeing more of them these days than we have in the past, though.

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