Looking Beyond The Bird Feeder

Palm Warbler
Palm Warbler

During the winter months, most of the bird action in my yard is at the feeders. There are also birds looking under leaves and in bark crevices for bugs or searching for natural sources of seed or fruit. But none of these things is as abundant in the cold months, so for many birds that stay around here through the winter, the feeders become the center of activity.

But come spring, there are more and more things around for birds to eat so, while they’ll still happily come to feeders, many can also be seen in other places in the yard. Sparrows who up until now were mostly found under the feeders are now searching for seed and bugs in the grass (or what passes for grass in my yard) or up in the trees that are now leafing out. Some birds are getting nectar from flowering plants or finding insects attracted to the flowers. And there are all kinds of really interesting spring migrants coming through that don’t come to feeders at all, but who might be found in your yard if you watch for them.

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A Raccoon is Eating My Suet!

Suet Feeder in the Birdbath
Suet Feeder in the Birdbath

Just as I was congratulating myself that I had gotten my various bird feeders strategically set up around my yard so that they attracted the birds I wanted to attract while keeping squirrels out of the seed . . . a new visitor from nature arrived. While I have yet to actually lay eyes on the furry creature, I’m confident that I’ve got a raccoon as a new yard visitor or resident. Here is the evidence of the critter’s crimes against my bird feeders and my strategy for (hopefully) thwarting the raccoon’s attacks on the food I put out for the birds.

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Into the Nest (Book Review)

Into the Nest Cover
Into the Nest Cover

As I’ve gotten more and more interested in birds, I’ve spent more time reading about them. I must admit though that I’ve never been able to get too excited about the nesting and parenting section of a bird’s entry in the typical bird identification guide. They so often seem to be about numbers: x amount of time to build a nest, x number of eggs, x number of weeks sitting on the nest, x number of days or weeks of fledging the young, etc. My eyes would glaze over and it just wouldn’t stick in my mind. But I’m currently reading a book about just this topic and I’m completely fascinated. If you enjoy watching birds, I highly recommend that you check it out.

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Birding at Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center

An Osprey Enjoying Sushi
An Osprey Enjoying Sushi

Saturday morning started chilly but clear. The weather folks promised 66 degrees, so Jim and I bundled up in layers and headed over the Bay Bridge to spend the day at the Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center in Horsehead Maryland. We saw some cool stuff (including forty-five bird species!) Here are some highlights in pictures and stories.

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Time To Put Out Your Hummingbird Feeder!

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird at a Feeder
Ruby-Throated Hummingbird at Perky Pet Feeder

One of the great things about spring here on the east coast is the return of the Ruby Throated Hummingbirds. They are on their way (or may even be here, depending on where you live!) So now is a good time to clean your feeder (or get one if you don’t have one), whip up a batch of sugar water nectar, put up your feeder and start watching for these beautiful little birds. They’ll be hungry after their long trip so make them welcome!

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Chipping Sparrows Arrive

Chipping Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow

While this winter’s White-Throated Sparrows and Dark-Eyed Juncos will soon be leaving us to migrate up to Canada where they breed, Chipping Sparrows are now returning to Maryland and other parts of the US and Canada from their winter spent in the south.

The first Chipping Sparrow of the spring showed up in our yard this week. These tiny little guys are definitely welcomed back!
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Bird Feeder Baffles in the Wind

Female Red-Bellied Woodpecker at the Suet Feeder
Female Red-Bellied Woodpecker at the Suet Feeder

Here in Maryland today, the sun is shining and the wind is gusting. It is beautiful, but gusty wind can sometimes cause problems with hanging feeders.

If you’ve got both hanging bird feeders and squirrels in your yard, you probably have baffles as well. Get the right baffle and you can succeed in both keeping squirrels out of the seed and keeping the feeder a little more protected from wet weather. But while this type of baffle can be great, when you add gusty winds to the mix, things can get very interesting. How do you keep the baffled feeder from kiting around in the wind?

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