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Get To Know Your Birds
February 10, 2020

Winter has made its return to southwest Michigan.

Several days of accumulating snow, and temperatures at or near freezing.

Go figure, as days grow longer, winter arrives.

Just as we start looking towards spring, go figure.

No signs of the deer in our  yard these past few days.

I have spotted them at woods edge a couple of times, however.

The past few days around here have been a challenge.

Late Thursday night, and into the wee hours of Friday, we spent time in the emergency room with Yolanda.

Several hours later, we get to take her home with a diagnoses that she has pneumonia.

Less than 24 hours of her starting to cough and hack, she was that sick.

Issues are always more challenging for her, which makes things more challenging for Karen and me as well.

With antibiotics at hand, the road to recovery is on the way.

If you haven't registered for The Great Backyard Bird Count, now is your chance.

February is national 'Bird Feeding Month' , I will continue a bit more on our backyard treasures.


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.

In the past, I have seen flocks of up to 200 and more 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 (wintering robins), 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 :-)

I digress.

We have a feeder suction cupped to another window, plus the many yard feeders.

It is amazing how quickly some birds come to feed on the new feeders.

Still others are a bit shy.

Here is one way of training your birds.

Even cardinals come up to the windows to feed, now.

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.

(Raw, shelled peanuts help too.)

Our cats can sit at a window and the birds won't flinch, as they know there is a barrier between them hand the cats.

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.

You can even train your birds to show when you are home, by offering food at certain times of the day.

They will learn, and on on your schedule (pretty much).

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, and Juncos 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.

Yes there is a hierarchy in birds. 

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 light yellow patch on his back.

We have had for the past year, a Northern cardinal with a single white feather on her right wing.

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 14 - 17 is The Great Backyard Bird Count.

Be sure to get involved.


Time to fly for now, before I go, here is your positive thought or the week.

God Bless.

"You are never a great man when you have more mind than heart".

John Eldredge, Author and Speaker.

King Solomon in all of his wisdom had something to say about the heart.

Pay attention.

"Above all else, guard your heart,
for it is the wellspring of life".

Proverbs 4:23

"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.

A Blessed week to you .

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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