Sunday, December 28, 2008

Backyard birdy blogging

When I moved to Vashon from the city, I could not believe how many different song birds were here. Of course, in our old neighborhood of West Seattle we were lucky to get a Robin in the spring. Needless to say, all the song birds were hanging out on Vashon and doing just fine without any bird feeders from me. They had plenty of forage and habitat for shelter; a literal birdy paradise.

At first, I could barely discern the difference between them they flitted so fast. But, I learned to differentiate them eventually and I have been an avid bird seed provider ever since.

I do have 3 cats which is sort of a problem for those ground foraging birds like Juncos and Towhees. I try not to think about it but I do hang the feeders up WAY up high to try and discourage that sort of thing.

The biggest deterrent to keeping those bird feeders fully stocked is the squirrels; just the common old Gray Squirrel we have out here. They aren't fancy but they seem sort of smart and without doubt extremely pesky. They will completely chow down a whole bird feeder full of seed in no time flat. Therefore, the market niche of "Squirrel proof" feeders which I have tried many and no, they are not Squirrel proof. The only way I have been able to keep my birdseed only for the birds is to mount the feeders on something they just can't climb. Seems simple now but there were quite a few years of me trying to hang feeders in my orchard trees. The squirrels won and I lost.

Now all my feeders are hanging from my little office building roof just adjacent to the house. We can watch them feed from the kitchen and I can easily see if they need filling which they often do. The variety is dazzling although I only use Black-oiled Sunflower seed. I have to fill the feeders every other day or so, even though I try to get the biggest feeders that will hold the most seed. I know, it's yet another responsibility in a busy day but such a joyous one.

We commonly get Goldfinches and another finch which is Scarlet. We've had visits from Sparrows, Wrens, Chickadees, Grossbeaks, Flickers and even have a very confused little woodpecker who manages to eat from our feeders. The Swallows come each May as well although they don't hit the feeders. They are bug catchers and love our open field where the bug hunting is good. For me, Spring is really here when the Swallows arrive. We have hunters too; Bald Eagles are commonly spotted riding the thermals way up high above the house. We have some Hawks too that nest in the tall Firs but they are usually shy. Although, last summer I surprised one who was hunting down near my feeders. Raptors gotta eat!

I'm bad, I really should have a full list of bird visitors for all you serious birders out there. Now, that I have done some birdy blogging maybe this spring I will keep better track. And, try to get some better pictures too.

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