Sunday, January 10, 2010

For the Birds

I've been thinking for awhile about adding some bird photos to my collection, but never seem to have the time during the busy gardening season to just sit quietly and wait for a bird to pose properly for a portrait. Anyone who knows me will tell you I'm not much for sitting still (except after supper with my knitting - and by then the birds have mostly gone off to bed). This seems to be a perfect time, as long as I keep my windows clean enough to take pictures through. Much too cold and snowy lately to spend a lot of time out of doors.
The little guy is a Downy Woodpecker (female - the males have a red splotch on their heads). They sure do like their suet this time of year. We have 4 kinds of woodpeckers here, mostly year round. There is one that is about half again as large as this one with the same coloration that is called a Hairy Woodpecker. I'll have to look into where that name came from sometime since it makes no sense just looking at the bird. Our larger woodpecker is a Red Bellied. I thought that was strange since when you look at it the head is red, but now that we have the suet feeded, you can see it's belly and it does indeed have some downy red feathers there. Not a lot, but they are definitely red. Our largest woodpecker is the Pileated. They are the ones that look like Woody Woodpecker from the cartoons - and sound a lot like that too. They don't come into feeders which is a good thing since they are really huge and would surely scare away all of the other birds. We do see them flying across the yard frequently, though.
We feed birds year round from a number of feeders around the house - something like 50 pounds of seed every 2 or 3 weeks this time of year. I like having them here because they are such a help at keeping the insect population down in addition to being so pretty. And feeding them doesn't keep them from eating other things as some would fear. It just supplements their diet this time of year when food is scarce so that they can make it through this really cold and snowy weather. We have very few mosquitos despite the number of ponds we have, virtually no Japanese beetles and far fewer caterpillars. We do feed year round, but can always tell when their other food is plentiful because they always prefer it to the things we offer and mostly ignore the feeders. There is always a spike in eating when there are new babies though and they are so much fun to watch as the parents try and teach the babies how to pick up seeds on their own instead of waiting on a branch to be fed.
As the gardens have grown and matured, the number of bird species has really grown. It seems like every year we discover a new one. The list is actually quite huge at this point as compared to our bird feeding when I was growing up when we had sparrows, pigeons and the occasional cardinal.
Back to plants next time even though we have about 8 inches of snow on the ground and it is really cold out there. The witchhazels have very swollen buds as does the February Daphne, so it won't be long before things are blooming again in the hollow.

1 comment:

Leslie Lutz said...

I bet the kitties enjoy the feeders.