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Gardening For Wildlife, Issue #003 Observing your birds
February 12, 2007

A blessed new week to you.

Some good news for me.

Doctor says I'm good to go, but take it easy on to much physical work and heavy lifting.

I still go for my walks, just not as long of a walk and the dogs stay home.

Winter continues to the cold blast here in the Great Lakes region.

Fortunately, we aren't getting all that snow that parts of New York state is getting.

Again, it is all lake effect snow.

Over 100 inches in a week's time,

Can you hardly stand it?

We're still getting snow, but not like that.

A few robins have stopped by for a visit.

Not so rare a sight these past few winters, but still I worry some about them.

I will soak raisons and put other fruits out for them.

I've gone to the extent of stringing them and hanging the string of raisons from a tree.

They will eat.

Twice in the past week a small flock of Cedar waxwings blessed us.

Gleaning what fruits they could find in the crab trees.

Waxwings don't really migrate, they are more of a nomadic bird in the winter months.

I've seen flocks of up to 300 before descend on a row of Arborvitae and stay until they've picked them clean.

Then off to find more food.

Quite often, waxwings and other birds will gorge on the frozen, fermented fruits.

Ever see a tipsy or drunk bird?

It is good for a chuckle, yet a risk for birds that now fly impaired.

I've witnessed a time or two where the bird is so smashed, they fall out of the tree.

I wonder if birds get hangovers :-)

In the winter months, we place a platform feeder on the outdoor table just a few feet from the window and glass door.

The table has a winter cover on it and of course there is a screen to collect the messes.


Here is one way of training your birds.

Even cardinals come up to the windows to feed.

Once your birds get accustomed to the movement in the house and seeing you through the windows, they are less apt to take off with every movement.

One of our (indoor) cats, Bobbi Sue sits and the window and chats at the birds. the birds see her and don't flinch.

I can even toss food out at certain times of the day just to watch birds. You can do that as well.

Birds are creatures of habits.

Take notice and see what time they stop by to feed, bathe and even preen.

Almost like clock work.

Winter feeding is a good time to really observe your birds.

With some feeding stations close by, I can watch my birds work over a seed or peck away at the peanut feeder.

Jays gulp, cardinals really work a sunflower seed.

Watch how doves chew away and tree sparrows scratch for food.

Another thing you can observe and learn is the different personalities of birds in the same species.

Do you have a goldfinch or two that sticks around when you walk out to fill the feeder while the rest take off.

Chickadees are so friendly while downy woodpeckers may just climb a bit higher.

When you have several birds of a feather, do you see a dominant bird?

The Alpha or main bird in your yard.

Do you notice how there are times he allows others near him and other times he seems to spend more energy defending than eating.

By really watching your feathered friends, you may notice a slight color variation.

For example, I have an American goldfinch that has a small whitish colored patch on the left side of its head.

I see this little bird on a regular basis and time schedule.

I will be interested to see if it changes color later on.

Maybe it will simply move on this spring.

Some birds actually weigh their food before they start to work a seed over.

Observe of jays and chickadees will often pick up a seed and drop it. They may do this several times before the find one that is worth the effort.

Chickadees especially will weigh the seed.

After all, they take a seed and fly off to work it open. On cold days, that is a lot of energy to waste on an empty sunflower seed.

By watching and learning, you can often tell when you have a new visitor or the same crowd.

By observing your birds, you will learn some of their habits and eventually you will know when your "friend" stops to feed and visit.

Say, February 16 - 19 is The Great Backyard Birdcount. Click on the link for more info.

Cornell's Great Backyard Bird Count

Be sure to get involved.


Time to fly for now.

Smile your best smile.

I know it can be difficult at times, yet a smile can make life easier.

Until next time

"Treat the earth well: It was not given to you by your parents, It was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. Please feel free tp forward this onto friends and family.

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