a squirrel’s wet fur
a squirrel’s wet fur
This is the visitor I saw at the hummingbird feeder yesterday. It hangs from the roof, so this crafty little devil had to climb down the chain to the hanging plant to get to the feeder.
I’ve seen more hummers around lately, but now I know why the sugar water has been disappearing unusually fast the past few days.
Project FeederWatch ended last weekend. For those just tuning in, PFW is a citizen science project run by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The idea is that you commit to keeping a record of all the birds that visit your feeders, birdbaths, birdhouses, and landscape features from November to April. In addition to being a part of something that helps scientists learn about and help birds, participants have the opportunity to learn a surprising amount about what goes on right outside their doors.
This is a summary of some interesting things I learned.
Observations about Specific Birds:
We get both Carolina and Bewick’s Wrens at our house. They both like suet and mealworms, but the Carolina Wrens will also take seeds from the cake feeders. Carolina Wrens also seem to be more willing to poke around the ground in the flowerbed, while Bewick’s Wrens prefer scouring the trees and plants for bugs. Carolinas also seems to be much more vocal; every morning, I can expect one singing (surprisingly loud) from the fence.
On several occasions, on count days and non-count days, I saw unidentifiable accipiter hawks swooping through the yard. On one occasion, I got some pictures of one sitting by the neighbor’s feeder and on another day, I saw one sitting by my feeder. I never got a good enough look to ID any of the ones I saw on count days, but readers of this blog thought the one I photographed was a Sharp-shinned Hawk.
I assume he’s been eating sparrows since those are the only birds whose counts have been lower than I expected them to be. The wrens, titmice, chickadees, and finches all seem to show up in basically the same numbers each week so I suspect they’re avoiding the hawks.
I was thrilled to see goldfinches show up in my yard at long last. I have my sister to thank. She got me some nyjer bags for Christmas, and the goldfinches arrived withing days of putting them out.
Lesser Goldfinches will only take nyjer seed from the bags, while American Goldfinches who seem to prefer the nyjer bags, will use the tube feeder when the bags are crowded.
I had hoped to see the American Goldfinches in breeding plumage, but they seem to have mostly left, although I did see one this weekend in transitional plumage. I hope he sticks around so I can see him in his full golden glory.
Through most of the winter, the Blue jays came around only for the peanuts. As things warmed up, and nesting season began, they started taking suet again, which they didn’t touch during winter, ceding it instead to the wrens, titmice, kinglets, warblers, and mockingbirds. They also come around more and more for the regular seeds, but the peanuts are still the favorite.
(no pictures. try back next year)
During the fall and winter, the cardinals only come around in the very early hours before dawn and the dusky hour between sunset and dark. During spring and summer they come around the feeders at all times of the day.
White-winged Doves are the most prevalent and obvious birds at our platform feeder during spring and summer, but through fall and winter, there are substantially fewer and the Mourning Doves come around a bit more frequently.
The mockingbirds come regularly for suet in the winter, but lose all interest in it when it gets warmer out. There is a pair nesting in the neighbor’s cedar tree, but their only interest in my yard now is the birdbath.
The Black-crested Titmice are almost always the first ones to check out a new feeder, and often the first ones to the worms in the morning, thus earning them the nickname Pigmice. They’re still my favorites, though.
Every morning in winter, one or two would burst from the wren box and start scolding me from a nearby tree until I had the worms out. Now that it’s warmer, they’ve left the box for the wrens and are nesting elsewhere, but they’re still first in line at the worm feeder most mornings.
And, now, some lists…
The numbers are the highest numbers of individuals seen at one time.
The Permanent Collection:
These are the birds that appeared in all 20 counts.
All of these are permanent residents except the Chipping Sparrows. They will depart for points north in the next week or so, and return in October. If past years are any guide, we will see flocks of 60-70 in the yard for a day or 2 and then they will be gone.
House Sparrow only missed one week (Dec 27), which was incidentally, the first time I saw an accipiter hawk. Smart sparrows.
Birds that came for a distinct span of time and then left.
I’ll be curious to see if these species come around these times next year.
Birds that are here year-round. They don’t come by the yard very often, but were kind enough to stop by on at least one count day.
These are the birds that hang around the yard only during spring and summer along with their arrival dates.
These are the largest groups of individuals seen at one time.
These are the birds I had never seen and saw for the first time as a result of paying closer attention to the feeders.
Non-avian Feeder Visitors:
Project FeederWatch was a fun and eye-opening experience. I intend to continue counting birds and uploading my counts to ebird for the rest of 2009, and I will definitely be participating again next year.
Week 3 of Project FeederWatch was cool and overcast with occasional showers. It was a good weekend for staying in and staring out the windows.
The birds and the numbers:
I didn’t see our cardinal this weekend, but all the others have made appearances in my previous counts.
What’s really interesting to me is how the birds’ behavior has changed slightly since the summer. The Blue Jays, for instance, are no longer interested in the suet feeder. They hogged it all summer and now they’ve all but surrendered it to the wrens and chickadees.
They have not lost their taste for peanuts, though, and they swoop in, grab a nut and are gone before I know it.
Unless this guy is in the way…
I’m pretty sure there were more Chipping Sparrows, but they like to poke around behind the sage bush.
Bewick’s Wrens come each summer to nest in our boxes, but this time of year, I see more of their larger cousins, the Carolina Wrens.
I spent the early part of the week working in the yard trying to create something of a bird world. I love watching birds, and lately I’ve been wanting to increase the variety that come around as well as learn who they are.
We’ve had a bird feeder up for the past two years. I fill it up. Mr. Squirrel comes along and empties it onto the ground, and then he and the white-winged doves eat most of the seeds; therefore, the first step was to give Mr Squirrel his own feeder.
He seems to like it.
In addition to the (still vacant) owl house I hung, I put up a wren house. Two Carolina wrens moved in and built a nest of sticks and feathers, and as of yesterday, there were two eggs in the nest.
I also hung up a suet feeder to try to get woodpeckers and finches, and a bluebird nest box (that will probably house more wrens since I’ve never seen a bluebird around here) went up as well.
Here’s the birds I know I’ve seen so far in the past few weeks.
I love springtime.
Mr. Squirrel checks for greyhounds before climbing into the birdbath.