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Favorite Birds Part II
May 07, 2012

The damage from the last killing frost in late April is quite extensive.

Several perennials were knocked back and some trees and shrubs took a good bite.

Prayers go out to all of the fruit growers and farmers. For many, their livelihood was all wiped out this year.

Once again, a few days of instant summer.

Heat humidity and thunderstorms on Thursday.

For everyone but us.

We did get a few small showers over night, but that's about it.

On a couple of my walks the past couple of weeks, these shrubs really caught my eye.

The shrubs have been there

Shame on me for never addressing this.

(Pictures I've taken this past week.)

Japanese Honeysuckle Bushes (Lonicera japonica):

These bushes are native to Asia, and were introduced to North America in the late 1800s and 1900s.

Bush honeysuckles grow to heights of 6 to 20 feet (1.8 to 6 meters).

They are deciduous, with opposite, entire leaves, and often the older branches are hollow.

Differences between individual species of non-native honeysuckles are dependent on the presence of pubescence on leaves and flowers and the length of flowers and their stems (I know of at least four different species or cultivars).

Bush honeysuckles flower during May and June.


Bush honeysuckles have a broad tolerance to a variety of moisture regimes and habitats.

They are adaptable to a wide range of habitats. They are most commonly found in the understory of woodlands as well as the edges of marshes where birds deposit seeds.

Most natural communities are susceptible to invasion by one or all of the species and cultivars.

Often the source of the invasion comes from a planting or from a highly disturbed successional community in which the honeysuckle has flourished.

After that, Birds and animals distribute seeds and the invasion is on.

The fruits are yellow to dark-red berries.

While the fruits of non-native plants feed birds and animals, the fruits don't contain the proper amounts of Carotene the birds need to grow strong and colorful flowers.

We are starting to see cardinals that aren't as bright red.

The colorful tips of waxwings are changing colors. House finches come in colors of red, orange, yellow and everything in between


These vigorous shrubs shade out native vegetation, particularly in the woodland understory.

They are able to out-compete native wildflowers for light and other resources.

Bush honeysuckles green up earlier in the spring than most other plants, giving them an advantage over other species.

Each produces abundant amounts of seed which are spread by birds and other animals.

These invasive shrubs and the very aggressive cousins (Japanese vining honeysuckle) can be pulled up, cut down and large populations you can use herbicides to contain them.

There are several Native Shrubs that fill any requirement you may have.

There are several Native Shrubs that fill any requirement you may have.

Well, let's get on with Favorite birds II

You will find most of them profiles in,

Common and Backyard Birds

Like Crows, Bluebirds, Cardinals, Robins, Orioles, Waxwings, Hummingbird Profiles, And many more, like the different Jays.


Marti in Ohio:

This is a hard one as I love them all. We have our year round ones, which the chickadee is my favorite too, so sweet and cute! I really enjoy seeing the seasonal ones, because I don't see them all year round. The oriole with it's brilliant orange and black, the scarlet tanager with it's beautiful red, the bluebird with it's blue, or the bunting, which I have seen one time! it was unreal! Oh yes, there is the swallow too! It is a matter of eenie meeni miney mo--maybe I'll stick with the bald eagle, till I see one of the above....

I totally understand Marti.

All of our native birds have something special to offer to the Wild Kingdom, and for our pleasure.

Jack Coppess from Toledo, Ohio:

I would have to say the little Chickadee is my favorite because they come so close to you in the woods while deer hunting. I was in the UP a few years ago deer hunting and watched one find his roost in a clump of leaves on a limb not more than 4 feet from me at dusk. It was totally dark when I left the woods and he never moved. I had one lite on my hat once years ago while I was filling the bird feeder and then he jumped to the feeder. I really like all birds though, including the Bald Eagles near the Maumee River.

Thank you Jack.

Great minds think alike, you picked two of my favorites, with the Black-capped chickadee topping my list.

Brenda from Kosciusko, Mississippi:

Of course, MY favorite bird is my 'Bird', a constant companion for 32 years so far and a very beautiful, vocal, demanding feathered friend who teaches all newcomers to mind their manners. A Blue Front Amazon rescued from a pet store as a naked scared 1 year old.

I can't think of any kind of bird I don't like, but would have to say the crows would have to be one of the favorites. They aren't that beautiful but they are really intelligent scroungers.

The ones we have here are mostly polite with the other birds when feeding. They always warn the other birds (and us) if they think danger is lurking. They'll see and announce snakes, stray dogs, and sometimes stray people. They know cars are supposed to stay on the highway so when they're sipping water, or eating some one's tossed out food on the highway they simply walk to the shoulder when a car comes along and then saunter back to what they were doing. They have not the elegance of an eagle, the beauty of a male bluebird, nor the pure cuteness of a chickadee. They do have flock cooperation, intelligence, inventiveness, and a super sense of humor.

Thank you Brenda.

Our Lovebirds aren't quite as old as your feathered friend, still they bring us joy.

Indeed, crows serve a vital roll as part of the clean up crew and their intelligence is well documented.

Flock cooperation is often based on a hierarchy amongst like birds.

John Sauers of Fayetteville, Ohio:

My favorite bird is the Hummer. The ones that come back here seem to like me to take their photographs. As soon as they see the camera they are there to show off and entertain me. Smart little critters also.

John, as if they know they are are that and know it.

Hummers amaze most people and did you know, they have the largest brain relative to its size than any other species of bird?

Harry, born and raised in Michigan, now living in Hannibal, Missouri.

My favorite bird is the Cardinal. We have two I would like to encourage them. What is the best way to feed them an encourage more?

Harry, Northern cardinals are favorites of many people.

Cardinals are a bit of shy or skittish bird, often taking to
protection at the slightest movement or sound.

Attract cardinals and many desirable birds is a matter of habitat.

Native trees, shrubs and flowers that provide protection, a place to nest, and food like fruits and insects.

Offer a feeder of Black oil sunflower seeds near the shrubs and trees (10-12 feet from protection).

Keith from Cairo, Illinois:

My favorite birds, even back to from when I was a kid, are the Blue-Jays. I know they can be mean, but blue was my favorite color as a little kid and I also enjoyed seeing blue on one of the biggest visiting birds to watch for each day in our yard with my Mom as I grew up.

Still to this day, I love waiting on the big Blue-Jays to show up in our yard and I've always loved being able to recognize when they were even near our house due to their loud calls & alerts they would always make.

I love how only certain birds over the years, such as any Woodpeckers, a Chickadee, the Blue Jays, a Titmouse, & etc., will always know to come straight to that tray only in our yard.

Thank you Keith.

Jays become stealthy this time of year and excellent pictures you sent me.

(I cropped one of your Jays so others may see it too.)

Sandy in Albion,New York:

I have a list a mile long on what birds are my favorites, but the one that is special to me the most is the Eastern Bluebird. I put up two houses a few years back and didn't know if I would get them to nest or even see them. They are NY states bird. About 3 years ago they nested and had fledglings. The kids and I were diligent in keeping the HOSP away from them. Well the babies matured. Last year they nested again and they were such fun to watch.

I never get to see the babies leaves the nest but it's nice to know I'm helping with the population, and get to see such beautiful birds. The kids always say don't the neighbors know we have BB's? I guess people just are not aware of nature and their surroundings. They didn't nest this year but I have seen them. To many HOSP's around. My other favorite is the Rose-Breasted Grosbeak. They tell me spring is truly here.

Nice choice Sandy as these birds continue to rely on human help.

Juvenile Bluebirds will often help the parents raise the second and third broods, how cool is that?

Linda in Southeast Michigan:

My favorite bird is of coarse Hannah Hen. This wild Turkey followed me a over the yard and the woods behind our house. She loved our mower.

I hope to see her again this summer.

Thank you Linda.

I have ducks that follow me around, but never the turkeys, what is your secret?

(Your picture was to big for me to do anything with, but nice none the less.)

Marilyn in, NW Ohio:

I would have to say that (definitely) the hummers are my all-time favorite but cardinals run a close second as they are here year around and frequent diners at our feeders.

Thank You Marilyn, two very popular picks and for many of the same reasons.

Chris in Portland Oregon:

Our favorite bird is the Anna's hummer. They stay around all winter, and we keep 3 feeders going.

Thank you Chris.

I can only imagine the joy of having hummingbirds year round.

Lou in New Jersey:

I'm with you, I love the little chickadee for it's friendliness and
trusting personality. They go from tree to tree while I'm working in the yard with their little voice"dee-dee."

Right on Lou, chickadees are so special.

Research has shown that chickadees have quite a complex language. Beside the tone of voice, every "Dee, Dee, Dee', has a certain meaning.

For example, one "Dee" may mean a greeting, while four "Dees" may be a warning call and so on.

Sometimes you may even hear a repeated chicka, chicka before the dees and the multiple other sounds they make.

Vicky in beautiful Milford, New Hampshire:

Mine is the most beautiful Red colored bird - the Cardinal. So vibrant a color, and it's song, well . . . . . I actually have one of the Cardinals songs downloaded as my ring tone for my cell phone, I do have a pair that visits my feeder frequently. We still plenty of trees for all these beautiful birds. We have Herons here, and last year I saw a Bald Eagle. There definitely are plenty of hawks also. Then we have many other birds that are typical to the area.

Thank You Vicky.

Cardinals once again and where would we be without diversity and the occasional visitor or bird to add to our life list.

Sandy in Milan, Ohio:

I really don't have 1 particular favorite bird, I love them all. In winter I like the Red Cardinals strictly because of how they contrast with the snow. They're so pretty to look at and listen to in the drab of winter. Last summer I had a particularly large number of wrens that I really enjoyed and came to recognize their rather loud voices for such tiny little birds. I also like the way they build dummy nests all over in decorative bird houses that I have sitting around my property. Yes, one chose one of the houses for their home and one actually built a nest in my PVC pipe that extends from my house and is from my furnace.

Not such a good idea, but was able to let them live there and took a coat hangar to clean it out in late fall after they had finished their business. They flutter around and won't sit still for long, but really are cute and enjoyable to watch and listen to. And like I said, they build their nests in the most unusual of places. I hope they return again this year, but build their nest not in my PVC pipe. I think I've found a way to cover it without harming my furnace. I also look forward to my hummers every year.

Thank you Sandy.

Again cardinals and hummers.

Toss in the loud wrens and life can be good.

Possibly some hardware cloth attached to the PVC pipe will keep all creatures at bay.

Charlene of Lime springs, Iowa:

We have a pair of Morning Doves that have nested in our yard for at least 10 years. They are not afraid of me, and neither are their little birdies. I guess they know that I am harmless. They like to watch me garden. I talk to them and they "coo" back at me. Here is a pic of 2 babies camoflouged in the dirt of one of my flower gardens.

Too cute Charlene.

In time, most birds develop a lack of fear when they see people or the same person all the time.

Amazing the flimsy nests they built roo.

Judy in Clio, Michigan:

Not a fair question to ask a backyard birder. I'd have a list 20-30 birds long. You might have better luck asking which is our least favorite bird. :-)

Well put Judy.

Often is the case for many, "My favorite bird is the one I see right now".

Jean, NW Georgia:

My favorite bird is the Eastern Bluebird because of the joy they bring with their beauty and sweet songs.

My heart will skip a beat every time I see a flash of blue.

Jean, I am often envious of you and others that share about their Bluebirds.

While I do see them from time to time, and a couple of my brothers have nest boxes, I simply can't attract them where I live.

Keep up the good work.

NancyAnn in Oregon:

(NancyAnn's Robin)

Thank you NancyAnn.

You can't go wrong with American robins.

As I have mentioned, robins are such loyal parents and fierce protectors.

While the male picks the territory, the female picks the nesting sight.

Robins aren't monogamous, but it is always nice to think it may be the same bird.

Diane Mogavero in Derby, New York:

My favorite is the orioles.I love the orange color and they make a loud noise when they are ready to get the jelly. I know when they are out there, with there call.

I also love the hummingbirds. The little magical birds. The grand kids think they are little fairies flying past us. I also have a 3 tube finch feeder. I get maybe 18 yellow finches at once on the feeders. I love my yard in the summer with the birds.

Thank you Diane.

Here is a one of my orioles checking out a suet feeder. A bit curious I would say.

Like so many of you, there are
many different favorites we have.

Stella, in the burbs of Montreal, Quebec :

My favorite bird are the swallows. for over 12 years I travelled all over Western Europe, mainly the countries bordering the Mediterranean. Every morning when I got up, there would be swallows everywhere. At sunset the same thing, doing their acrobatics and feeding on flying insects. Well one evening, while visiting my sister in Greece, my BIL took us out for dinner in a rustic restaurant situated at the top of a mountain. There was a running brook with a beautiful sound accompanying our meal. While we were sitting outside, don't forget, it was pitch dark, but the restaurant had strong flood lights all around. Near the eve, there was a swallows nest with babies inside. Believe it or not, the parents kept flying all over the place continuously catching mosquitoes while we were eating. The little mouths were open the entire time. Now if that isn't a gift, I don't know what is. I will never forget that outing.

I have invested in special swallow birdhouse which were expensive, but not even one family occupied them....only the sparrows.

Stella, we have typed back and forth on the beauty and magic of all swallows.

Living near a pond and flying insects, I am blessing through spring and summer by the Tree and Barn swallows.

Keep removing the sparrow nests as they are built, and you may consider a hanging gourd type bird house for the swallows. They don't mind the swinging, but sparrows don't seem to care for it.

Christa in Central South Dakota:

I'm thinking my favorite is the chickadee & nuthatches both are fun to watch.

Thank you Christa.

Chickadees and nuthatches are in the same family and you may see them hanging out together in the winter.

Both are friendly, but still hands down on the chickadees.

Adena Miesel of Macomb County, Michigan:

It was so hard for me to decide which one is my favorite. I do enjoy watching all the birds. I don't get to see Cedar Wax Wings to often but they are a beautiful bird. The Screech owls that live in my front yard are special as well.

From Waxwings to owls, nice diversity Adena way to go.

That does it for this letter on your favorite birds.

If you still want to share your favorite bird, you have one more week to do so.

Simply forward this to me with your favorite(s), name and location.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless.

Be sure to look up the profiles of your favorite birds.

"Courage is not simply one of virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point."

Courage isn't simply a virtue, it is an action.

Courage requires us to be on our toes, stand strong,

"Be on the alert, stand firm, act like a man, be strong"

1 Corinthians 16:13

"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. 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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