WE SPENT A YEAR LOCKED INDOORS AND LEARNED ABOUT BIRDS

When I first put out a feeder for the birds, I was merely trying to help keep the birds alive through a very cold, snowy winter. I had no idea that I was starting not only a pastime for me and a way for our birds to survive the cold winter, but creating a hobby for everyone.

Two sparrows waiting for fresh food

I think it was the day before yesterday, the day after the snowstorm. Owen was watching the mad flurry of bird on the deck and telling me, from the other room all the birds he could see out there. I realized that somehow, I had taught both Garry and Owen about birds. Which birds are which, which are female, who are the just out of the nest babies. Of course everyone knows the basic birds. Robins, Blue Jays, Crows, Seagulls — the familiar birds with whom we grew up. But now we can all spot both kinds of Juncos and at least three or four types of finches, sparrows, wrens, woodpeckers as well as grey versus red squirrels and miniature chipmunks versus full-size chipmunks.

Juncos will eat at the feeders, but they much prefer the ground

Following are the woodpeckers of this week. There are more, but they aren’t regulars at the feeders.

Most of us can also spot any number of water birds, from egrets through Great Blue Herons as well as a pretty good selection of hawks, too.

We have all learned that buying cheaper bird food is a waste of money because even if they are starving, they won’t eat it. They don’t think about food. Their body tells them if it is good to eat and their beaks follow. Blessed be the black sunflower seeds, because all the birds and the squirrels eat them. We’ve learned a lot and that’s a bonus on what was otherwise, not a good year. The birds saved us just by being there.



Categories: birds, Blackstone Valley, New England, Photography, Wildlife, Woodpeckers

Tags: , , , , , ,

8 replies

  1. And it was gorgeous (and enviable) to see all these beautiful birds!

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  2. Those birds, as far across the country as they are, saved a whole lot of us ‘out here in the trees”. Thank you for sharing them, and your knowledge of the little beauties; as well as the heart warming squirrels and chipmunks! It’s saved my sanity during this long and ugly year! Blessings to you!

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    • I knew very little about our local birds when I started feeding them. But I had a bird book and got another, bigger one and there are a couple of online groups — I belong to the Cornell group — and they are really helpful in identifying what you see. The hard part is memorizing what the bird looks like If you don’t have a picture and even though I have a LOT of bird pictures, there are many birds that don’t stay put long enough for me to get a shot of them. I have a lot of trouble with Warblers, many of which look alike and are mostly (here) transient. There are also a lot of birds that I am sure live in our woods that don’t like feeders so close to a house. Also, the Duke likes to watch, so he sticks his nose on the glass — and all of the birds fly away!

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  3. Love your bird photos. It’s so interesting to see the difference from year to year which birds come to my feeder. A couple of years ago, we had tons of purple finches, but very few last year. Hoping they come back this year!

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    • We had a few purple ones a couple of years ago, but all House Finches last year and, of course, dozens of Goldfinches. THIS year we are overwhelmed by Blue Jays. We had nine of them on the deck earlier. Then the doves arrived. Seven doves and 9 Blue Jays, plus at least a dozen Juncos. The deck is only 12X12 feet. so it looked like midtown Manhattan on a work day. A squirrel tried to muscle his way in. It was one of the red squirrels. I think he was a little overwhelmed by the bird population and he left pretty quickly. I do think the squirrels eat early in the morning, before all these birds are up and vying for the feeder. Do you know if Bluebirds are migratory? We had a lot of them for about a week, then they disappeared. It might have been the food was particularly alluring and what was it with that mass of crows who appeared, stayed a short while, and then left. That was strange!

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  4. When I look at your bird photos I experience feeder-envy. I, too, have a bird feeder out my window. Unfortunately, the only birds I see are sparrows and pigeons…Not a whole lot of colour…

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