Maryland birders have been excited about Snow Buntings for the past week or so. They are not frequent visitors to our area, so when someone spotted four Snow Buntings along the pier at North Point State Park east of Baltimore, local birders began visiting the park in a steady stream to get a look at them.
All birds need water. If you make sure it is available to them year-round, you’ll find that it can be as much of an attraction as putting out seed or suet. In fact, birds that might have no interest in eating at a feeder may come to visit your yard if there is water available. Providing water when the temperatures dip into freezing levels, requires some adjustments, but it isn’t hard.
I have several birdbaths in my yard year-round. All except one are either right on the ground or very close to the ground. The final one is on a fairly low table on my front porch. While the birds seem to love these ground birdbaths, the cats in the neighborhood see them as an opportunity to hunt, so I set up a simple “all natural” birdbath defense a month or so ago that seems to be working very well.
On Sunday a Fox Sparrow came to visit. These little birds occasionally show up in our yard, but they aren’t regulars, so it is always fun to see one hopping around on the ground with the other sparrows.
I found some time to sit out back the other day to watch the birds and got to see some fun feathered visitors, the coolest of which was a Ruby-Crowned Kinglet. This little bird spent literally hours flitting up, down and around the leaves and branches of a single tree, hunting for tasty insects. These little guys are FAST and constantly moving and the camera I was using yesterday is not, so I took over two hundred pictures over the course of the afternoon, probably two-thirds of which were of this one bird, just to get a small handful of clear shots. But it was worth it because she was fun to watch.
I have a lot of bird feeders. Each new season brings changes to the bird dynamics in the yard so I tend to do some tweaking of feeders or their placement each season. During warmer months, birds have a wider variety of natural foods available so, while they still eat birdseed, they don’t go through as much of it. Now that fall has arrived, birdseed consumption will soon be picking up. I want to see if I can reduce the amount of seed winding up in squirrel bellies this winter, so I made another change in my set-up. This time, it involves turning a ground platform feeder into a platform feeder on top of a pole.
This week, we got a fun new feathered visitor to the yard, a Red-Breasted Nuthatch. We regularly see White-Breasted Nuthatches, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen this type of nuthatch in the yard, or anywhere for that matter. In our area, they tend to be a bird occasionally seen in the woods up among the pines rather than at the backyard feeder, but I’m hearing that this year there is an irruption of Red-Breasted Nuthatches.