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.
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.
Birds are always around, one of the things that makes bird watching such an approachable activity. If you don’t have time to watch for awhile, there will be birds to watch when time opens up again. When you do have time for it, it can be a very peaceful and healing activity.
I haven’t done much birding or bird watching in the past month or so. My brother died unexpectedly last month and as often happens when life throws you such things, my daily focus and activities narrowed for awhile. I’ve missed the birds. So today I made a point to go and sit out on my back step and see who might come for a visit.
This spring we’ve had a small but very tenacious group of Common Grackles in the yard. They were first dominating the Squirrel Buster Plus feeders, full of sunflower hearts, driving away the smaller birds. Grackles need to eat too of course, but with grackles, the first day you’ll have one. The next day there will be two. Succeeding days will bring three then five then seven . . . So a change was in order.
Yesterday was the first day of spring. Even when the temperatures are still cold and winter-like, the birds seem to know that spring is here. If you pay attention, you can find signs of spring bird activity in your own backyard or at local birding spots. I’ve seen quite a few signs of spring in the past few weeks.
Here in Maryland, we’ve had that little March taste of spring that tries to trick you into going to the local nursery to buy plants. I know that although the local nurseries typically start gearing up around March 1, even now, three weeks later, it is really a month too early to start planting most things around here. So to feed my spring fever and keep myself from impulse purchases, I am instead working on my plans to landscape my yard to create more habitat for birds (as well as look really cool.) Planning such a project is a little intimidating but is also interesting and a lot of fun.
Location, Location, Location. This is as true when it comes to bird feeders as it is to the restaurants we humans like to visit. You can have a really great, well-designed bird feeder with fresh appealing food in it and get no or very few birds if the location is wrong. I’ve found that finding the right spot can make all the difference. Here is what I’ve learned about where to place suet feeders. It may just give you some ideas on where to place your own!