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.
American Goldfinches like my yard. It took me awhile to entice them to visit, but once they came, they seemed to have liked the ambiance and have stayed, pretty much year round, only leaving for short periods every now and then when the local Coopers Hawk gets too carried away. They stay busy around the flowers in the warmer months, the seed heads in the fall and pinecones up at the top of the pines in the cooler months. They seem to check out everything, from the lilac bushes in the spring, to zinnias and strawflowers in the summer, to flowers and seeds on weeds in the fall.
Here in Maryland, we seem to be at the very end of the annual fall warbler migration. There are still a few stragglers around but most seem to have already passed through on their way to warmer winter quarters well to the south.
Yesterday though, I was sitting on my back step watching the birds in the backyard and came across this little Common Yellowthroat. He had faint black patches on his cheeks, so I think he is a young male who hasn’t gotten his full dark black mask yet.