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Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

Posted by claire z6b Coastal MA (My Page) on
Mon, Jan 10, 11 at 13:00

A new year and a new Birds and other mobile features in the garden thread to help get through the winter. It also lets me go back to calling it #1.

This thread is intended to give people a place to post photos and/or talk about birds, critters, wildlife, fish, whatever - topics you might not want to start a whole thread on, but are still garden-related. You can see the range of possible topics in the previous threads:

Birds and other mobile features in the garden

Birds and other mobile features in the garden #2

Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2009

Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2010

Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2010 #2

Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2010 #3

Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2010 #4

Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2010 #5

I have a new camera now (Canon PowerShot SX30 IS) with a longer optical zoom so I'm hoping to be able to shoot at much greater distances. Of course, every bird I've seen since I got the camera has been up close and I didn't need the extra zoom capacity. Detail seems better though.

Here is a female cardinal on the feeder with the classic cocked head attitude.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Two Carolina Wrens were at the suet feeder and the one on the left seems a bit embarrassed by the posture of the wren digging in (like dumpster diving).
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

This crow looked rather stately standing in the snow,
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

while these crows have snow all over their bills, almost like the Got Milk? ads.
Image and video hosting by TinyPicA

Claire


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

  • Posted by claire z6b Coastal MA (My Page) on
    Mon, Jan 10, 11 at 13:08

Oops, forgot to add the link for the previous thread:

Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2010 #6

Maybe a bit too obsessive, but there's so much good information and photos in the past links that I really like to have them easily available (until they fall off into that strange GW limbo).

Claire


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

Wild turkeys are frequent visitors. Recently my husband spotted them flying up into a tree where they could eat bittersweet berries. Fortunately, the bittersweet is growing in an area that doesn't bother us. Now that there's snow on the ground, the turkeys are also visiting our bird feeders. There's still some cotoneaster berries the bluebirds didn't eat. Not sure if they are eating them, too.


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

OMG!!! "Detail seems better though", said the Mistress of Understatement. Claire! Are you kidding?!? For heaven's sake... you're in your house looking up the pants of that Carolina Wren! Seems better? I'll say it's better! Excellent!! And, love the snow-beaked crows, but I like crows anyway. So glad you have the new camera - wonderful to know we can look forward to more! Super!

My birds scattered this morning because Henry came swooping around again. Left hungry. He's a sharp-shinned, I think, and was right in the sun - tough to capture.


All the best with that new Canon - just super!

Jane
P.S. - just noticed - soon it will be time to keep track of the maple buds swelling.


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

  • Posted by claire z6b Coastal MA (My Page) on
    Mon, Jan 10, 11 at 17:59

defrost49: I didn't know that turkeys eat berries; my turkeys crave nyjer and seem to like peanuts as well as the usual birdseed mix. This morning I went to get the paper with no turkeys in sight. When I got back to the house there were four turkeys waiting for me looking disgruntled ("it's cold out, our water was frozen, and we want more nyjer"). This happens many mornings now - I'm bullied by turkeys.

Nice hawk shots Jane, I agree Henry is probably an adult sharpie.

Claire


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RE RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

  • Posted by claire z6b Coastal MA (My Page) on
    Mon, Jan 10, 11 at 18:01

Maple buds swelling? Maple buds swelling? Be still my heart....

Claire


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

Claire, now you have an amazing camera to go along with your amazing knack to provide a caption/description for your shots. That C. wren definitely looks disgusted with the other one!
Jane, you captured that sharpie very well--sun or no! The hawks' eyes are so piercing...
I also love crows. This time of year, I love watching the flocks streak across the late afternoon sky, as they head to their roost. The line is endless.
As we batten down for the next storm, I'm going to cling to that thought of a maple bud.

Emily


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

  • Posted by claire z6b Coastal MA (My Page) on
    Tue, Jan 11, 11 at 17:53

Continuing with hawk issues, I have multiple hawk visits every day. At least I'll look out the window and there will be no birds in sight, so I look for the hawk. Most of the time I don't see the hawk, but sometimes there will be a bird frozen in position for a long time.

Like this Downy Woodpecker today. I saw it while trying to find the hawk.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

After a while it peeked out to see if it was safe (or maybe annoyed because it knew I was watching). The hawk was gone so the downy went back to the suet.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

I also remember seeing a Blue Jay frozen on a tube feeder for at least five minutes one day. It amazed me because the jays usually struggle to stay on that little perch, but this one was rock solid. No photo because I was worried I would scare it, with devastating results. Downies are more comfortable with people.

Claire


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

Appears that your birds have a near perfect refuge in that wisteria,Claire, good thing.(new camera is great)

Central CT appears to be getting the maximum side of the predicted 1-2 feet. We already have 16-20", and the feathered friends are still here.

The fresh water department is still working (thankfully)

The idea of a permanent picnic is not always appealing

Most of the regulars are here at the diner as the snow piles up, so I will be trekking out and refilling the stations as I dance with Toro and wield the Canadian roof rake today. I really love SPRING.
Hope you all are safe and warm.
Jane


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

  • Posted by claire z6b Coastal MA (My Page) on
    Wed, Jan 12, 11 at 11:18

You've still got red-wings! Mine finally left a few weeks ago (or at least I haven't seen them).

Up to now we've only had a few inches of slush, and a deceptive hour or two of dry slot, like the eye of a hurricane. The NOAA weather alert radio is still warning that the back side of the storm will slam us this afternoon, and the winds are picking up again. This time the warning is very direct: Coastal Plymouth County and Upper Cape will get 6 to 10 inches of snow this afternoon, with strong winds.

I shoveled out a lot of the slush, including the bird feeding areas, because I'm afraid of the slush turning to treacherous ice when the temperatures dip, as they will.

It's beginning to snow again but all of the feeders are full, including the suet cage I refilled again to the delight of the squirrel. The heated water bath is overflowing.

Claire


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Goldfinches!

  • Posted by claire z6b Coastal MA (My Page) on
    Wed, Jan 12, 11 at 12:00

The hardy Goldfinches are ignoring the snow.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

This is one Christmas decoration I left up for the birds.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Light snow blowing now.

Claire


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

Love that Christmas sock. We're having a blizzard but the birds are hungry. We have seen the carolina wrens flying under the porch for protection. Today we noticed some of the red polls will actually burrow into the snow and tunnel for a few inches before sticking their heads up. Are they look for seed or taking a snow bath? No turkeys today but my husband counted over 75 parading thru the yard yesterday. Most we've ever had. Some of our neighbors put out feed for the turkeys but we think there's plenty of wild food. We also saw birds flitting around on the nearby perennials I never cut back in the fall. We also spotted a barred owl yesterday. The crows didn't like it at all and chased it off. The newspaper reported a lot of barred owl sightings lately.


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

Hi Kids!

Happy Snow Day to ALL! I've been watching todays weather for the south coast of MA and I see that the winds are expected to pick up with the second half of this storm. So Claire, do you have coffee made and in the thermos...just in case? How's that supply of Halloween candy is holding up?

sooey


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

  • Posted by claire z6b Coastal MA (My Page) on
    Wed, Jan 12, 11 at 16:34

Hey sooey! Nice to hear from someone across the bay. Pretty steady snow now without much wind, and the temperatures are dropping so bye-bye slush. You'll probably get higher winds than we do, the arm of the Cape sticking out like that, like sticking your hand out of the car as you race along the highway..

I've got plenty of coffee stocked up but I gave most of the Halloween candy to a local food pantry. Not too nutritious, but a treat (I gave them some good food too)

75 turkeys is a lot of turkeys, defrost - I wouldn't want to try to feed that many. Only about 8 turkeys today, including these two cold unhappy birds.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Claire


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

Beautiful photos, all! Enjoyed seeing the birds out in the snow here in NE CT today. We have about 2 feet of snow. Our feeder is under a pine tree that was heavily ladden with snow, creating a shelter for the birds to feed today (Wednesday, Jan 12th) during the blizzard.
Curious if anyone else had tree frogs move into their birdhouses this year. 4 frogs and 1 mouse took over half of my birdhouses mid to late summer this year. I never noticed that before. They were very brazen, frequently hanging out the doorways, watching the goings on and didn't move when I approached. I have photos, but still haven't taken the time to figure out posting on this site... will do it when I have more time.
Susan in NE Connecticut


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

Hi Susan, check your email - instructions have been sent.


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

Claire, we usually only see about 30 birds and sometimes only a few turkeys. Maybe they banded together to hunt food.

Susan, we don't have any birdhouses but I did think frogs (not toads) were acting differently because of the drought. I found some in my garden, probably seeking water. One was sitting in the bird bath (low granite one) when I was using the hose to water planters. He didn't jump off and looked relieved when I sprayed him with more water. It was shallow so maybe his poor back was hot.

Mice came into the house during the summer. Again, I think they were looking for water. The brazen chipmunk who hops up on the tomato cages to eat my tomatoes has a hole right in front of the kitchen window. I wouldn't mind if he met up with Mr hawk or Mr Barred Owl.


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

Susan in NECT, I would love to see those pictures!

We got almost 2 feet of snow from this storm, and the feeders have been busy. My usual water source was buried, so I put a couple of shallow bowls of water out for the masses...but, I didn't see them get any use. Some snow is melting today, so they do have other water sources, for the moment.

Birds and other wildlife have my utmost respect for their survival skills. Imagine being out there in that storm. Amazing! No wonder Claire's turkeys look so crabby.

Emily


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

  • Posted by claire z6b Coastal MA (My Page) on
    Thu, Jan 13, 11 at 17:32

Susan: I also would love to see pictures of tree frogs and a mouse in birdhouses. Nothing like that happens here (the fact that I don't put up birdhouses could be part of it).

The snow storm brought in some Savannah Sparrows; a bird I'd never seen before. I looked out today at the birds on the nyjer seed path and saw what I at first thought was two Song Sparrows. Lots of Song Sparrows here, but these two were hanging together very closely - Song Sparrows in my yard never stay close to each other. I'll see a Song Sparrow with a White-throated Sparrow, but I've never seen two Song Sparrows closer than about two feet. Sometimes I wonder how they manage to breed if they can't stand each other. The two sparrows also looked a bit different from the songs; tails are shorter and notched and the legs are pinker.

I pored over my Sibley Field Guide and got the provisional ID of Savannah Sparrow then emailed the pictures to PFW and to a local bird guru at the Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences. The local guy confirmed the ID and said the Savannahs usually stay in short grass fields and beaches but the snow probably covered those areas, so they went looking for food. PFW hasn't responded yet but I expect an email tomorrow.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Claire


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

Ah, boy. More sparrows to identify. I had no idea there were more sparrows than any other kind of bird in America - much less at my feeder. Ok. So those are Savannah's, then who is this?

Is this a purple finch with no purple? I'm getting loster and loster the more I look at sparrows. Just when I finally learned that crackles don't have spackles.


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

  • Posted by claire z6b Coastal MA (My Page) on
    Fri, Jan 14, 11 at 16:16

Only half of the Purple Finches have purple - the females don't. Same with the House Finches - only the males have red on them. Not to mention male and female Indigo Buntings and who knows what else.

Distinguishing the males is hard enough, distinguishing the females is worse.

Tricky Bird ID's

House Finch v. Purple Finch

Looking at the facial markings I'd say with about 60% certainty that this is a female House Finch (less makeup on the face). Of course there's that 40% uncertainty that says maybe she's "Purple". What kind of males are around? Even in the winter the finches seem to stick with their own kind. I have at least two male House Finches and one female House Finch this year. I've only had Purple Finches a few times. My female House Finch regularly kicks the male off a feeder perch and he obligingly moves to another.

Good luck - small streaky brown birds can drive you mad.

Claire


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

Thank you for the links, Claire - very kind and helpful. I guess their house finches. My feeder probably attracts the average bird-on-the-fly in my area, but I'm still learning and they seem to change their plumage when I'm not looking!
Don't think I've seen purple finches, but I now have an Ocean State Job Lot $3 special thistle feeder which was covered with goldfinches today, so who knows? maybe a purple will stop by. This guy is a house finch...pretty sure.

It's just so very pleasant to see them grace all the shrubs and trees I've put in. Birds and mobile things in the garden make my efforts whole. And it's a year-round show!

Jane


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

  • Posted by claire z6b Coastal MA (My Page) on
    Sat, Jan 15, 11 at 13:28

I'm pretty sure that's a House Finch. I went through a long period of emailing photos to PFW "Is this a Purple Finch? "No, it's a House Finch." "Well then, is THIS a Purple Finch?" "No, it's a House Finch." Eventually I did see a pair of Purple Finches one year, but both House and Purple Finches go to the regular birdseed mix in the tube feeders, not the nyjer feeders.

Claire


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

  • Posted by claire z6b Coastal MA (My Page) on
    Sat, Jan 15, 11 at 16:55

One more sparrow in the snow - an American Tree Sparrow. This morning it was doing battle with an ornamental grass, jumping up and grabbing seed heads and trying to drag them down to the ground. The grass is short and too floppy to cling to so the sparrow was being creative. Definitely nice birds. Likes nyjer seed too.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Claire


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

Hi Kids,

Gosh, Claire, great pics of the Savannah Sparrow. In your fist shot I also thought it was a Song sparrow. I have a few Song Sparrows, I always confirm my own ID with the brown spot on the chest. Now that I see how similar they really are, I will take more care, not just assume what I am seeing to be the Song. A camera can be a very big help with our IDs. I am still getting a big, red Oops! when I enter Yellow Rump Warbler into my data at PFW. I was sure they would have fixed that by now. As I remember, we have both confirmed the YRW with PFW through photos. This year am also getting an Oops when I enter large numbers of the Tufted Titmouse. 10 is ok, but 12 gives me an Oops.

My count area has changed in a very big way. We have new neighbors who have not just taken down every feeder that the previous owners had up, but have taken down almost every tree and bush on their lot. Our lots abut with the boundry line just 30 feet from my bird counting vantage point. I am now the only homeowner in our area who feeds the birds. Even with that change my numbers have stayed almost the same.

The Cape got very little snow with last weeks storm. Not much was on the ground when I got up on Wednesday but we did see a very light snow start around 1:00 which did not stop until sometime during the night. In total, we got 3" - 4"... not even close to what the rest of NE got. The storm we are to get tomorrow should be just rain. I hope the rest of you are as lucky.

sooey


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

  • Posted by claire z6b Coastal MA (My Page) on
    Mon, Jan 17, 11 at 20:47

sooey: You're still getting Butter Butts (Yellow-rumped Warblers)? I didn't see any last year and none so far this year either, and I've never seen 10 or 12 Tufted Titmice at one time. There's always a few titmice around but not a lot at once. I think there are more in the woods across the street but they only come over in small numbers, often with the chickadees.

The last storm brought maybe 4 to 6 inches of snow, powdery for a nice change rather than heavy, wet snow. Sounds like the dreaded wintry mix for a lot of tomorrow - starting out as snow but morphing into sleet and rain. This should be really nasty when it freezes up.

I think Anne Marie Johnson once told me that the computer wasn't doubting us, it was just a question of making sure we didn't make a mistake in entry. I don't think they're going to make individual adjustments in the program based on specific entries - they'd go crazy doing that. I saw at least one Savannah Sparrow today (my first count day) so I get to enter that in my next report. I kind of enjoy making the PFW computer splutter.

Claire


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RE: window strikes?

Anyone here have a good solution for window strikes? I seem to be getting them pretty frequently, despite decals on the windows...and, once in a while, the results are fatal. :(

Emily


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

  • Posted by claire z6b Coastal MA (My Page) on
    Tue, Jan 18, 11 at 13:51

I use two kinds of decals

Window Alert decals

Droll Yankees Warning Web

I have them on most of my windows and they work reasonably well. Two points; They MUST be on the outside of the window or they don't work, and nothing will help if a hawk scares the birds and they just fly in a panic.

I placed the decals by going outside and looking at the reflections in the windows to see where the birds would see open sky (and fly at it). From the inside the decals are noticeable but I mostly ignore them and try not to shoot pictures through the decal (fuzzy photos). In the rain they're more obvious. The Window Alert decals are more obvious than the Warning We but are a bit more decorative

From the outside
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

From the inside
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Two Window Alert decals on the top and one Warning Web in the middle
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Inside view in rain
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

I've tried hanging CD's inside the windows but with no apparent effect. Other people have suggested lamps inside to break up the reflections or hanging netting outside the window.

Claire


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

Hi Kids,

Yes, claire, I am still getting the Butter buns here on the Cape. I was surprised to see them early in December but, there they were. I was only getting 1 at a time at first but I now have at least 2. One is a male who has held onto his darker markings. That black/yellow contrast is hard to miss. I can also get great flurry of activity which is always an idication that the Chickadees & Tufted Titmouse are in the area. They tend to come in mixed groups of almost equel number...they really do flock together.

Emily, I can't really help with the window strikes. I get them also, but only at my slider and only on the half that does not have the screen. I also have decals but it does not help that I have a forest of light loving houseplants just on the inside of the glass. I think it was Vern Laux on the radio one day who said that if you have this problem you can try moving your feeders closer to the window. That way the birds are not in full flight when they hit. I hear them hit more than see them and have yet to see a stunned or dead bird.

Not much of a weather event here on the Cape today. We were having some rain but it seems to have moved on. I hope that holds.

sooey


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

Ah, stupid me. I put the decals on the inside of my windows...when this storm stops, I will change that!! Thanks for this info.

We got about 4-5 inches of snow/sleet this morning, and that is being topped off by some freezing rain right now. Lovely. I quickly re-filled the feeders during a brief dry spell--they've been very busy today! And, "they" are talking about another storm for Friday!? Oh, my aching back.

Emily


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

I have great empathy, Emily. We have the same accumulation as you and I spent several hours this afternoon in the freezing rain on an extension ladder cleaning ice dams off the roof only to discover that the gutter is filled with melting ice, downspout is frozen, water coming back in over the fascia board and dripping inside my office. The birds zoomed by me en route to the feeder as if I were simply a rude whisper impeding their path. No respect. My decals are on the inside (good thing they're waterproof) and I put them in the exact spots where birds had struck the windows previously. Seems to work. Keep calm & Carry On...and keep the towels coming...sigh. Anybody have a flame thrower?

Jane


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

  • Posted by claire z6b Coastal MA (My Page) on
    Tue, Jan 18, 11 at 20:57

Climbing extension ladders in freezing rain? With a roof rake clutched in your cold little hands? I think, Jane, I would just have pulled out all the buckets to collect the water inside (which I did in a nor'easter when the water poured through the top of my sliding doors). Icy ladder rungs terrify me.

Like sooey, I had a rain event here and the remaining snow is morphing into ice. The weather forecast is hedging whether the next storm on Friday will be all snow or partly rain - that rain/snow border flops around in SE MA.

Claire


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RE RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

  • Posted by claire z6b Coastal MA (My Page) on
    Tue, Jan 18, 11 at 21:07

I let the bird feeders get a little low this afternoon (there's still plenty of food on the ground). I want to make sure I empty them out in the morning so I can refill with completely dry birdseed. When I've left wet bird seed in the bottom of the feeder it's gotten moldy or frozen. With the strong winds sometimes one whole side of the feeder will be blocked with ice.

Claire


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

The overgrown Miss Kim lilac which was scheduled for removal has a renewed lease here. The birds love to perch in the twigs while "thinking" about their next move. I see that bird feeders near shrubby stuff are more inviting. We put up feeders for the first time in a crab apple some distance from the house. I've never seen a blue jay at our feeders, but two were visiting that feeder, as well as a pair of cardinals.

No one is touching the suet. I hear and see downys all summer. Don't they want some good energy producing fatty protein? Is it case of "offer and they will/might come?"

Marie


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

  • Posted by claire z6b Coastal MA (My Page) on
    Wed, Jan 19, 11 at 13:10

Marie: I'm glad you're leaving the lilac. Shrubs that may not be perfect landscape specimens may still be valuable for wildlife. Hawks come barreling in here several times a day and the shrubs at least slow them down and give the target birds a better chance at escape. The little birds also don't have to waste as much energy flying from a safe place to the feeder and back. I wonder at what point is it not worth flying a long distance for food if you then burn it all up flying back.

Sometimes I'll put a block of suet out and no bird will touch it. Maybe it's just rancid, left over from last year, and the birds aren't desperate enough. Some people make their own suet mixtures, I'm not willing to go to that trouble. The commercial suet with peanuts is most popular here. You could try a different flavor. I just looked out and saw a Carolina Wren hopping along the ground, which usually means a squirrel is hogging the suet. I went out and chased two squirrels away, twice. They'll be back, but at least the wren has a chance.

Also the birds may still be finding some insects. I've seen nuthatches and woodpeckers pecking at something in the tree bark.

Claire


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

I, too, am glad the lilac gets to live. The birds will thank you for Miss Kim. One of these days I'm going to put together a photographic, 4 season story of life inside my cherry tree. It's about 8' from the main feeder, and the branches are covered with little bird footprints.
Yesterday was one of 'those' weather days. A few shots of some varied personalities.
The peaceful doves never lose it. Gentleness always.

Then the grackle bullies showed up

The ultimate price of swimming in sleet: frozen open tail syndrome (sic)

And at the end of the day, little frozen feet needed socks.

Not an easy life.

Jane


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

  • Posted by claire z6b Coastal MA (My Page) on
    Wed, Jan 19, 11 at 20:49

Great photos! That House Sparrow has such a look of disgust with the cold foot, and the doves are quite lovely. The grackles are coping, as grackles do.

It reminded me of a time in January '09 when I kept seeing grass in the water in my heated birdbath and I couldn't figure out how it got there. One day I saw this squirrel standing in the warm water.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

It jumped out and landed in the grass beside the birdbath. It was cold out and the wet feet must have iced up and fused with strands of grass. The poor squirrel kept chewing or licking its feet,

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

and then climbed back into the warm water. This went on several times. Into the water, out onto the cold grass, and back to the water.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

I've never seen another squirrel do this - usually they just drink from the side. Those feet must have really hurt.

As you said, "Not an easy life."

Claire


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

And they are resourceful. This chap, for reasons only known to him, dug a tunnel from the side of the pit I dug around the feeder, through about 20" and came up through the crust of sleet. Maybe he's selling downunder condos.
Through the side of the 'pit'

Periscope up about 20" away

Checking out the camera watching him

Jane


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

  • Posted by claire z6b Coastal MA (My Page) on
    Thu, Jan 20, 11 at 11:50

That's delightful! Sometimes I wonder if they're just playing. Defrost49 upthread mentioned redpolls burrowing in the snow for unknown reasons.

I imagine it's warmer under the snow and there should be uneaten seed hidden in there. Otherwise I haven't a clue. Better to ponder strange wildlife behavior than to stare at dormant plants.

Claire (waiting for spring)


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

Some years we pay a higher price for the beauty of spring - this is one of those years. Storm Clare (sans the i) is currently spewing another 8-10" of snow on central CT. The mourning doves are waiting for the squirrels to clear the ground under the feeder this morning. So glad I had that heritage birch clump put in - it's about 15' away from the feeder. Sorry to say, Henry (hawk)caught his breakfast yesterday morning here after smashing into my office window. Decals don't matter a tinker's dam to a hungry hawk.
But on the peaceful side...

Jane


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

As I sit and wait for this latest storm to pass, I am very entertained by the photos and discussions on this thread!

First of all, Jane and Claire, what type of bird bath do you have? I had a "heated" bird bath that would evaporate in about 10 minutes, and, also wouldn't stay liquid in very low temperatures. My current water source for birds is (was) a bowl with a small fountain...they loved that, and, I could keep it flowing if I periodically thawed it with hot water. It is now buried, and, even if I dig it out, I can't revive it. Motor is probably shot.

Those are wonderful shots on the birdbath--I especially like the doves. I am fans of my back yard doves, even though they don't appear to be very bright. They are soft and peaceful looking...I'd like to pat them if I could! :) And, how entertaining is that squirrel tunnel series!!

Marie, I have a deceased "Harry Lauder Walking Stick," that I haven't the heart to remove yet, as it's a favorite launching spot to one of my feeders. Besides, in the winter, it looks the best!

Claire, before I refill my feeders, I always dump out the last of the seed that's in them. Once on the ground, this seed is quickly scoffed up by the ground feeders and squirrels, so it doesn't really have time to rot, and the feeder seed stays fresh too. I believe I'll be repeating that process by the end of today, as the bitter cold will be following this snow. I'm with you....waiting for spring. Maybe I should start some seeds....after I clean up after my ice dam....

Emily


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

Hi Emily, sorry you have ice dams too. Finally chopped mine out the other day and the drip stopped. What a pain!

I have a 20" round deck mounted heated bath - got it on Amazon - link below. I wanted it nearer the house so it can be easily filled without me having to dress like an Ididarod driver just to reach it. It'll stay there till the end of April, then it goes back up in November. I have other bird baths in the gardens for warm weather. This is its 2nd year and so far no problems - water stays at about 38 degrees.
This guy must be from Finland.

Jane

Here is a link that might be useful: EZ Tilt Deck Mounted Heated Bird Bath


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

  • Posted by claire z6b Coastal MA (My Page) on
    Fri, Jan 21, 11 at 13:56

I have a heated ground bath similar to the one on the Duncraft website, I'm not sure where I bought it. This is my second one, the first lasted a few years and then wimped out.

I was leery of putting a bird bath on the deck railing, just because I didn't want birds and squirrels there - particularly having the squirrels jump from the adjacent oak onto the projecting bird bath. Not that the squirrels don't go on the deck anyway, as evidenced by my chewed Christmas lights....

This year I also tried one of those watertight cord covers you can see on Jane's link (I bought a different brand). It's much better than the combination of baggies and twist ties I usually use. This year I also moved the heated bird bath to the front of the house where it's on the way to the feeders so it's much easier to refill. I refill or top off every day.

I also have a couple of unheated baths (one plant saucer and one rubber trough) that I just turn over and stomp the ice out of.

I've wondered about the Water Wiggler that's sold on some sites, maybe it would prevent ice if the temperature isn't too low.

I also bought a solar sipper once, but didn't like it. The cover was very hard to get on and off and only one bird could drink at a time.

Claire


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

no deck here, so I'm trying a big copper basin that just happened to be in snow directly across from our sole outdoors grounded outlet.

I was surprised that all the snow was melted after I put the heating unit 12 hours before.

The water is deep. I rigged up a something like a small cooling rack over it so birdies can perch and sip. If it doesn't work, I'll remove it and see if the birds just dive in.

We had to dig a path to the birdfeeders in the crab apple tree. It is just a few feet from the path we shovel anyway. But the snow was up to my hips and I literally could not waddle to the feeders to fill them.

I swear I saw a flicker at the feeder. Don't they migrate south? It had that distinctly upright posture, not like a female cardinal which has a similar buff color to this visitor. The visitor had a big splash of red....on the neck...my memory isn't clear. I wondered if it was a hairy woodpecker, but this was not black and white.

Could it be an overwintering flicker? Oh, I'd be excited about that!

Marie


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

  • Posted by claire z6b Coastal MA (My Page) on
    Sat, Jan 22, 11 at 13:16

Marie: Northern Flickers overwinter here and I mostly see them at the birdbath. They really appreciate that water in cold times and you'll probably attract them. This flicker was in a pine tree on December 23, 2009 (my flicker at birdbath photos are around somewhere, but i'm too lazy to dig them out).

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

And thanks, Jane, for sending my Red-winged Blackbirds back! There were seven red-wings here this morning. Maybe they've learned that flying south doesn't always mean getting warmer. Sometimes the coast is warmer than the interior, even if the coast is farther north.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

And, with apologies to Robert Frost

"Two paths diverged in a snowy yard,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
And all I could see was turkey tracks.

So, I took the other one."

Claire

Image and video hosting by TinyPic


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

"And that has made all the difference."
That's good - really good! Big prints!


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

At 1 degree this morning, there was
A Silhouette in Patience

and what appeared to be a de la Renta hand in feeder/bird coordinating dress
Jane (Spring is 8 weeks from today!)...better than 9, lol


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

  • Posted by claire z6b Coastal MA (My Page) on
    Sun, Jan 23, 11 at 11:25

The Silhouette in Patience reminds me of a post by cady years ago (she used to be a regular here). It was after a snowstorm and there was something like 26 doves lined up on a branch overlooking the ground feeding area which was buried in snow. Waiting for some food to appear. So she sighed, got out the shovel, and dug out the area for them. Very powerful birds those doves.

Starlings really have lovely plumage if you look at them without bias.

Claire (who knows that spring comes much later on the coast than inland)


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Warm feet

  • Posted by claire z6b Coastal MA (My Page) on
    Sun, Jan 23, 11 at 12:21

On a very cold day several winters ago, a starling was thoroughly enjoying the sun in its face and having warm feet.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Claire


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

In the cherry tree, in the sun, this starling looks like she's in formal evening wear. Adult/nonbreeding (Sept./Feb.)plumage according to Sibley's guide. Pretty sophisticated feathers on a bird most people dislike. I have to keep thinking: Starlings have stars...Grackles have no spackles. Otherwise, I still confuse the two.

I don't think it's an ugly bird. Better looking than my Aunt Agnes.
Jane


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

Oh thank you nature lovers! I have been enjoying all your wonderful photos. Our bird feeder has been busy this winter too. They empty it every day lately. The birds seem to be in good shape, even though the temps have been so cold - its up to 12 degrees this afternoon,and we're grateful to hit double digits.
My seeds (vegs and flowers)are ordered and am too anxious for Spring... I think cabin fever will do that to you.
Regards,
Susan in the northeast corner of CT


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

  • Posted by claire z6b Coastal MA (My Page) on
    Mon, Jan 24, 11 at 16:57

Welcome, Susan, to an anti-cabin fever thread!

Jane, there are people in the background who actually like starlings, as you can see on the Starling Talk site.

And, sooey, if you're around, I finally saw a Yellow-rumped Warbler, AKA Butter Butt, AKA Butter Bun, the first since a year or two ago. The YRW has discovered the suet cage in the wisteria and the heated birdbath which is now about ten feet away. I haven't gotten a good photo yet but the warbler is happily trying to guard both the suet and the birdbath, as its territory. I hope it stays around this season.

Claire


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

wow, Jane, that is a gorgeous shot of the Starling! I have always enjoyed their winter plumage--I agree, very good looking birds, despite their "pest" status. The other cool thing about starlings in winter (I think) is the way the flocks swoop around in the sky, in amazing unison. They don't do that in the summer. Anyone else notice that? I always wonder, who decides to turn?

Emily


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

  • Posted by claire z6b Coastal MA (My Page) on
    Mon, Jan 24, 11 at 20:54

Emily: I rarely see starlings in flocks here but I've read about the flight behavior. I thought I remembered someone emailing me a video a few years ago and I just found it (I hate to throw things away - you never know when you might need them).

Starlings swarming

I also googled starling flight pattern and got a lot of hits, including this report of a Roman study that concluded that the starlings in flight were reacting to the movement of seven starlings around them. Amazing birds that deserve a little respect.

How do thousands of starlings fly without colliding?

Claire


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

Really, the older I become the less I know. I had no idea that starlings were capable of speech. Mimicry, I know, but nonetheless, amazing (in this case applicable). PBS Nature had an episode about the starlings in their grouping and swooping in flight capability a while back, but no matter how many times one sees it, it's captivating. I once worked in an office next to an airport and sometimes at sunset, thousands of starlings would swoop their flight ballet at traffic time. People would hang out of their car windows watching them. I'll try to remember the starlings' grace and mystery when they clean out my dogwood berries in 90 seconds flat, lol. Good links, Claire. Now that you mention it, Emily, I remember seeing them in spring and fall but cannot remember summer. Interesting - oh, good, something else to look up!

Jane


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

Great pics, All!

Claire, I am happy to hear that the Butter Buns have returned to Plymouth! Mine are enjoying the suet but I still seem to have only two. I am also seeing what I think my be a Pine Warbler. I have seen them before but always closer to the end of the PFW season, closer to spring. I have not been able to get a good picture of it yet but I am trying. Oh...I did see a brown creeper yesterday, the first in two years! I was so excited, just wish it had been a count day...

Has anyone noticed what time the birds leave your feeders in the afternoon? Right now, the end of January, I know that almost all activity at the feeders will come to an end by *about* 3:00. I will still see cardinals and some doves beyond that point, but not many chickadees, titmouse, finches, juncos, etc. We still have good light, the temps have not yet started to drop but the birds are gone. Have they had enough, are they full? Is it just me? I also notice lots and lots of activity just before a storm. The birds will eat and eat and eat, but the next day there will be very little activity. Very interesting to see. Obviously, the birds are smarter than me.

sooey


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

  • Posted by claire z6b Coastal MA (My Page) on
    Tue, Jan 25, 11 at 20:24

Jane said: "Interesting - oh, good, something else to look up!" The sign of the incorrigibly curious person; may you never lose that curiosity.

sooey: you're right, most of the birds have indeed gone to roost by mid-afternoon, or at least gone somewhere else. They've been eating most of the day, in between dodging hawk attacks, and maybe they're stuffed by then. Later on as the light fades I also see cardinals and doves, and the native sparrows (white-throats and songs mostly) that hang around with the cardinals. The cardinals and native sparrows are often the first birds up in the morning too.

I get the most activity in the middle of a storm; birds fighting the wind and whatever, looking determined and miserable. The next day they're back looking relieved, but that could be because I put out so much food because I felt so bad for them.

Claire


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

Heavy feeding this morning before the daily storm. Now filling feeder twice daily. Taking too many photos which holds the maid up from doing her job, but...when you see a bit of color in a gray/white world --ornaments for the young birch

Believe this is a young Red Wing Blackbird

Some shots defy caption. Then there are shots like this one of Chet and Chuck.

'Oh, Chet, that's the most disgusting thing I've ever seen!'

Jane


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

  • Posted by claire z6b Coastal MA (My Page) on
    Wed, Jan 26, 11 at 14:25

Very nice, the maid is a good photographer. A few years ago I told someone that I didn't retire in order to have more time to do housework. Still holds.

Snowing steadily now and the birds are stocking up. I already got the backup 40 lb bag of birdseed out of the car and onto the porch.

The Yellow-rumped Warbler has settled in and keeps an eye on his suet.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

and a suspicious eye on me.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Claire


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Birds in Winter, continued, 2011 #1

So glad I found this... and thank you for the welcome, Claire. One picture is more beautiful than the next - are you all professionals? With the heated birdbaths and food twice a day in the feeder... its a bird spa/heaven! The zen balance of your caring for them is that you are given the pleasure of enjoying these beautiful creatures. Thank you so much for sharing it with your photos here.
Of late my bird feeder is sheltered under a snow laden pine. Good for the birds in this weather, but the weight of the branches has now limited my visibility.
Keep 'em coming,
Susan


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

Another foot of snow last night.

Hi Susan -indeed, Welcome! I'm a part-time, semi-professional snow blower and bird bath cleaner. Have to go to work now because the spa tarmac has to be cleared.

And all the paths I've created for little things, like letting the oil man in!
Jane


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

  • Posted by claire z6b Coastal MA (My Page) on
    Thu, Jan 27, 11 at 13:35

Jane: I love the way a heated birdbath will part the snow, and the reaction of a bird that sees it's still there.

No professionals here, Susan; if you want to see professional bird photography check out the Bird Watching Forum on GW. Some amazing pictures there.

My first chore this morning was shoveling out the ground feeding areas. Here are some juncos and a sparrow in the nyjer canyon. I think that's the savannah sparrow in the spotlight but I'm not sure.
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Only about 6 inches of snow but it's very dense, as if a foot and a half was compressed into a half.

Claire


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

Hi Kids,

Claire, I am happy to see that the butter butt has returned to your suet. I am now up to 3. Today was a count day for me and I saw all 3 but not at the same time. I have 2 females and 1 male.

I am enjoying all the great pics you folks are posting. I was happy to see such a good Hawk picture, I think it was taken by Jane? Not an easy bird to get. I had a hawk at my feeders last Sunday. S/he sat on the feeder support for a good 15 minutes but with it's back toward me. I used my Petersons Field Guide and I think it was an immature Coopers Hawk. It's tail was round with a broad white tip, but its head did not yet have the darker crown. I got a few pics of its tail but between the sun glare and the reflections in the glass, they are not of much use. If the Hawks would just cooperate with us and line up exactly, Coopers right next to a Sharpie, it would be so much easier to get a 100% ID. Better yet...name tags! Who should we talk to about that?

sooey


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RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2011 #1

  • Posted by claire z6b Coastal MA (My Page) on
    Fri, Jan 28, 11 at 17:14

Ah, sooey, name tags are a lovely idea but I don't know who to ask except maybe the Tooth Fairy. There is still a Tooth Fairy isn't there? Does anyone know her email address?

This site, Tricky Bird IDs: Sharp-shinned Hawk and Cooper's Hawk, is the best I know of to distinguish the two hawks. The juveniles are really difficult and it's a common question on the Bird Watching Forum.

I'm going to start a new thread (2011 #2) because this one is getting slow to load. People can continue the discussion here if they want.

Claire


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