4/27/11

Hungry Birds


This is one of those mornings when I suspect the day will have some weather for everyone.  This is the forecast:


But this is what I expect:



In fact, I know I'm already right since the sun happens to be shining right now.  (Being right is one of my favorite things to be.)  I took the opportunity to fill all the bird feeders. 


George thinks of it as bait.  He's not good at catching birds, however.  I don't think he's ever caught one that hadn't already already crashed into a window and died.  He's much better with mice and gophers.  He fancies himself a mighty hunter no matter what prey he's stalking, even if his mouse happens to be stuffed with fluff.

We have several different kinds of feeders.  Tube feeders for the little birds.



They get black oil sunflower seed.  (The squirrels like it too.)

We have a fly-through feeder for the larger birds, since they are too large to perch on the tube feeders.



They get a premium squirrel mix, which the squirrels like too.

We have a peanut feeder for the blue jays.



This is a Scrub jay, and we have Stellar jays too.



When I fill this feeder, I can hear the birds flitting around me waiting for me to clear out.  When I do, they swarm it as if they haven't eaten in days.  They will empty this feeder in about an hour.  I've often wondered how many times I could fill it before they would stop eating.  I haven't run this experiment yet.  Fortunately, the crows aren't able to negotiate this feeder because they are too large.  They will stop by to pick up any peanuts they can find on the ground, however.  It's not that I have anything personal against crows, but they will run off all the other birds if they get a mind to take over.  So far that hasn't happened.  (In case you're wondering, the squirrels like the peanuts too.)

We have three hummingbird feeders because there is always one particularly macho hummingbird who will guard the feeder with a machine gun and not allow any other hummers to feed.  (I made up that part about the machine gun.)  We put the feeders far enough apart that it's impossible for one bird to guard all of them at once.  That doesn't stop them from trying, however.  Every evening the hummingbirds battle it out over the feeders.


For their size, they pack a wallop in ferocity.  I make my own hummingbird nectar from a mixture of four parts water to one part sugar.  I always boil the water first.  I don't know if the water from our well has any harmful bacteria, but I'd rather not learn the hard way.  We have two kinds of hummingbirds:  Rufous Hummingbirds and Anna's Hummingbirds


A few years ago, my friend, Sue, got the idea to put scratch grains (the kind chickens like) in the tube feeders.  The birds didn't like it.  Nevertheless, we started throwing it out on the ground as it was intended to be used, and we attracted some different kinds of birds.  We've had this pheasant running around our yard for years.  He's very skittish.  The only way I've been able to get a picture of him is through the window from inside the house.


Isn't he a handsome devil?  As a bonus, the scratch grains also attracted a family of quail.


By the way, the squirrels like the scratch grains too.



We've always had a bird bath in the yard, but the birds didn't use it until we added this sprayer. 


Now they've taken to it like proverbial ducks to water.  The woman in the Backyard Bird Shop told me that birds can't see still water.  The sprayer allows them both to see and to hear the water, and they flock to it.  This makes sense to me, and the proof is in how much they use it now.  They like to sit on the sprayer itself and drink directly from the tiny nozzle.

Occasionally, we get an unusual bird to our yard.  I've seen a Great Blue Heron, a Great Horned Owl, and one morning, I looked out to see this American Kestrel.



Each year, we have a group of swallows that move into the area under the eaves of our house.  They don't do any damage, fortunately.  They just swoop around the house in droves, eating bugs, and generally enjoying their lives.  They chip and cheap and fly like the wind.  We saw them for the first time this past Saturday.  They are nearly impossible to photograph because they are so fast.



There is a train station near the hospital in Hillsboro that has decorative plaques laid into the concrete sidewalks.  One of them says this:

"True hope is swift and flies with swallows' wings."  ~ William Shakespeare

I love that.  It made me love the swallows more than ever.

Whenever I fill the hummingbird feeders, George takes the opportunity to let me know that his outside water dish needs attention.  He talks to me and shows me that the bowl is empty or dirty, and he's thrilled when I fill it from the cold outdoor water faucet.  He doesn't see any reason for the birds to get all the goodies.



And now the sky has clouded over, and it looks like rain (or possibly hail) is on the way.  It's my favorite kind of day.

I don't have anywhere to go,
And so I'm going to sew.

4 comments from clever and witty friends:

WoolenSails said...

You have a lot of beautiful birds in your area. I need to refill my feeder.

Debbie

Lynda Halliger-Otvos said...

Wow-a huge variety of wildlife visits you and Mike. You cracked me up with the Bait comment. I just heard that this morning from my soulmate who laughed when I told her I bought a seed bell yesterday at the hardware store-for the birds or for the cat? she asked wryly. I had to chuckle.

Stray Stitches said...

You have such a wonderful variety of birds that visit your yard. I am quite envious. Thanks for sharing all of the photos!!

otterdaughter said...

I'm envious of your bird variety! We have plenty here in Kitsap county, WA, but not that many. I wish we had quail!

By the way, that's not a kestrel on your hook. It's either a Cooper's or Sharp-shinned hawk. (The main difference between them is size.) Kestrels have the falcon face bands that this bird does not.

Next you should add a suet feeder to bring in the woodpeckers, and the chickadees and nuthatches like it too. :)