With all the aerial poisoning going on in New England, I was afraid the birds would not come back. Or if they did, there would be far fewer of them. Yesterday, I put up a second seed-feeder — a near duplicate to the one from last year. The flat feeder didn’t work out well last year, but it seems a pity to waste it. I’m still trying to figure out what to do with it.

If there’s someplace I can attach it to — perhaps my deck railing so I can throw peanuts and corns cobs and chunks of corn into it to keep the squirrels happy — that would be a good use of it. Maybe if I wire it to the top rail, that would keep it in place near enough to my door so I could get to it even when we have our deep winter snows — if indeed we get snow this year.

Last night, we dumped all the old, rather stale seeds from last spring and added fresh black sunflower seeds as well as other shell-less seeds that should make less of a mess on the deck when they get eaten.

Birds do make a terrible mess on the deck and I’m pretty sure the squirrels aren’t helping. Basically, we don’t go out on the deck anymore because it scares the creatures that inhabit it. But we do spend an inordinate amount of time watching the birds through the windows. I thought it was just me, but Garry does it too. He goes into the kitchen for something and finds himself an hour later still leaning on the counter in front of the sink (good window there) … just watching.

I’m pretty sure that two years ago, Garry couldn’t have told the difference between a Cardinal and a Titmouse, but he’s become quite the bird watcher since I put up the feeders last year. He worries if we seem to be running low on seeds, too.

Of the many things we are supposed to do to keep our furred and feathered neighbors content is to keep water for them for drinking and bathing, but I don’t. There are river, streams, pools, lakes all over the area. Just on this road, there are two lakes, a piece of some Blackstone tributary (Aldrich Creek maybe?). Way back in our woods, there is another small lake. I have never been able to get to it. I can see it when the leaves are gone, but I’ve never been able to physically get to it. It’s all wetland back there anyway, so you have to be careful. Lots of quick-mud.

There are no people paths. It doesn’t seem to stop deer or bears or, for that matter, raccoons, skunk, or squirrels … and of course, the birds have wings. Lacking wings or the ability to climb trees and boulders, it’s a rough path for people, horses, or cows. Maybe goats could handle it.

I am not talking about stones you can lift and toss. These are boulders that can be the size of a house plus tall red oaks that in our crowded woods will grow to 60 or 70 feet high. With a bit more room, the can grow more than 100 feet tall with a spread of up to 80 feet.

While the leaves are on the trees, it’s not hard to get lost. It’s a bit humiliating to realize you can get lost in the woods on your own property. Our house is higher than our woods (mostly), so when the tepee was up, I could usually spot it and aim for it. But the tepee is gone. Today, it all looks the same.

In the winter, when you can see the lake, the woods are full of drifts and ice. When we moved here, I was 20 years younger. I remember trying to get to the lake. You had to try in early spring when it was warm enough to get there unfrozen, but before the mosquitoes took over. I didn’t make it. There are deep ditches huge boulders, and roots.

Thus we leave the watering of birds and other creatures to the natural elements. If there’s one thing we are not short of, water is probably it. Along with oak trees and really huge rocks.

This morning, I was up early and remembered to put on my glasses. The birds were there. Not only could I see them, but I could hear them again. I had missed their calls. I even saw a big red Cardinal. I still haven’t seen any of our Goldfinch, but I’ve seen a lot of Tufted Titmice, Chickadees, Nuthatches, a Cardinal, a Downy Woodpecker, and a Red-bellied Woodpecker.

I can probably relax. It looks like most of them survived.

We have a lot fewer than we did last year, but I took the feeders down so they could migrate … which, apparently, they did. The Goldfinches are probably nesting in and around Ontario — more fir trees up there (and no poison, either!). They love the pine cones that grow up there and we have few pine cones in this region. Very few.

As to where the little red finches go, they are not natural to this area, so they come and go as they please. Some birds have migrated west or south, too.

We have a lot of Titmice, Chickadees, Cardinals, and woodpeckers, None of these migrate. Meanwhile, the American Goldfinch (we had FLOCKS of them last year) usually migrate northward in late summer because this is when they breed. Late breeders. They have got to be the only birds I know of that migrate NORTH in the late summer. They should start showing up again in November, And we moved the feeders (really, we just took them down for the summer) so as time goes on and food becomes more scarce, they should find their way back. I’d like to hope we didn’t poison them!

We have Cooper’s Hawks in the woods. They are amazing flyers and can glide between even tightly spaced trees. Nearly silent most of the time, their favorite snack are finches and Chickadees, but sometimes they take on larger birds. They do not always win against larger birds (crows, geese, Loons, etc) and avoid the large woodpeckers who fight back.

I have also heard a LOT of hawks cawing and that will scare the birds away, often for days at a time. Last year, they would disappear for as much as a week when they heard the hawks. Some of these hawks love to eat small birds. I know we have some of them because I’ve seen them.

I haven’t seen ANY squirrels at all, but we didn’t see them until late in the winter last year after they had eaten the gigantic bounty of acorns. I think this is going to be a huge year for acorns. Every third or fourth year, we get gigantic acorns. It seems to be cyclical. We had to move the car. They are big and when they fall, they leave big dents on the car!

Categories: birds, Marilyn Armstrong, Photography, Woodpeckers

Tags: , , , ,

19 replies

  1. Many heading South around here.
    Used to be far more noticeable when I lived in the country.


  2. It’s good to hear that the birds are coming back and you might get a brief squirrel free period while they are getting in their winter stock of acorns.
    I looked out my kitchen window this morning to see a group of four or five European Goldfinches and a few blackbirds. The blackbirds dominated the garden last year and I feel that was why I didn’t see so many of the smaller birds. I’m pretty sure I saw a Welcome Swallow the other week. last summer I don’t recall seeing them. I’m not sure yet what impact the bushfires may have had on the bird population but I am hearing more singing recently.


    • By the END of last season — June — the feeders were dominated by Cowbirds (which are a kind of blackbird) and squirrels. They had driven all the other birds away … which was part of my decision process. The squirrels were literally GUARDING the feeders to keep birds away.


  3. I’m so grateful that thoughtless spraying (and yeah, it was probably necessary) didn’t kill off the birds. I wrote a DP essay yesterday about bees and I cited you in that, vis a vis our feathered friends. The birds are amazing. I used to put out feeders in winter, but then I found out this area is home to rats, and if one creature (besides spiders) rather scares me, it’s rats. Some of them around here are as big as a good sized house cat. My neighbors have feeders, and there’s a lot of bushes that bear fall/winter berries and such, so I don’t worry about the birds here. There’s still forage enough. Thanks for sharing those beautiful pictures. I’m always enthralled by your photography! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m so glad the spraying hasn’t hurt the birds. You have another season of entertainment there.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you for your care of the birds. Morning inspiration.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You have quite the collection of nature there. We don’t have so much in the middle of the city. Of course we have the zoo, and it’s free. I guess that doesn’t count. I can hear the woodpeckers more than I can see them. They are small. We were deceived as children into thinking they were the size of people, as in Woody Woodpecker.
    I enjoyed the nature around your house. I can see that it is quite lovely.

    Liked by 1 person

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