As in large parts of the US, it has been bitterly cold here in Maryland. The bird feeders in the yard are hopping with birds, as are the birdbaths. When everything else is frozen solid, a heated birdbath is a big draw for birds . . . and ok, also squirrels and neighborhood cats. Everyone is looking for a place to get a drink.
I have several birdbaths in my yard and all but one is a simple inexpensive DIY version. You really don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to offer birds water. Most of mine are simply large plant saucers from the local home improvement store that I set on the ground and keep filled with water year-round. (In the winter, I add a heater to one of them.) But I decided recently to create one more. This one actually has a base so that it sits higher . . . and it has something hidden underneath it!
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.
The most active and interesting days are often not the bright beautiful sunny days but the stormy days when birds are eager to eat as much as they can to keep energy levels high. Yesterday’s storm brought us just such a day with really interesting feathered visitors and activity, so I have pictures and stories to share with you.
There is something very special about watching a new day begin. From quiet darkness, to the first early chirps, to the first few winged visitors, building to the busy activity of dozens, the local birds are a big part of the start of each new day. If you pay attention, you are likely to see patterns in the bird activity in your yard. Every yard is different and every day is different, but this is the pattern I see on a typical winter morning in my yard.
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 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.