Friday January 16, 2004

Backyard Birds

I've started mixing a cup of "wild bird seed" (it's largely millet with some other seeds) into my sunflower seed. Our feeder holds about a quart of mixed seed. Because we also feed grey squirrels, I also mix in a cup of "hamster and rodent food" (contains beans, peas, bits of freezedried carrot, peanuts, banana chips, pumpkin seeds...) As I mix, I pull out the peanuts and banana chips to put in a different feeder because they won't go "through" the bird feeder; I add more nuts and some puppy dog biscuits to that mix, for the squirrels, jays, and raccoons ( I saw a jay fly off with a dog biscuit the other day :-)

We used to have a feeder of all "wild bird seed" in the garden, but I haven't been filling that one. It's more difficult to get to (if I go out the back door, Bebop wants to come along :( Also,, a large amount of millet attracts the blackbirds, which don't particularly like sunflower seed (which they toss over the side); black birds gobble a large quantity in a short time, too! So we mostly try to feed the blackbirds (and the occasional pigeon) in the front yard and the little brown birds and squirrels in the back.

With the addition of the wild bird seed to the sunflower seed mix, I've been seeing more than just sparrows and finches at the backyard feeder again. I think our chickadees (chestnut-backed chickadees) like this mix better. Our chickadees are so tiny compared to the Eastern Chickadee. Only a little bigger then a hummingbird but so brave! They are the last to fly away when I come out the door to refill the feeder (and I had one come back early one day and land on my finger as I was closing the top of the feeder! In contrast, our sparrows are quite large (fat and very well fed ;-)

I did see some blackbirds at the back porch feeder yesterday afternoon (there have always been one or two that actually eat sunflower seed). I think the millet may have attracted these (how do they know?). Anyhoo, there they were, but only one or two were inside the pigeon barrier. In fact, I watched one blackbird take a step, reconsider, take a step, reconsider. He did not want to walk through those bars! Understand that the scrub jays have no problems with the mesh on this "cage". This is fairly large-sized mesh! Nevertheless, it seems to be almost as effective against smallish blackbrds as it is against the (comparably) dinosaur-sized pigeons.


Disclaimer: I didn't take the photos below, but they are very representative of what we see at our feeder! Both kinds of birds come to the front and the back yard, but the chickadees are easier to see at the backyard feeder. Click on the picture to go to the page it came from.

We've got some sweet little birds that may be rufous-sided towhees and may be Oregon juncos - they are so handsome in their little black hoods and rusty vests.

This is a rufous-sided towhee:

and this is an Oregon junco:

I'm beginning to lean toward the Oregon junco as the correct identification because I think the towhee is a much bigger bird. Also, our birdlets don't have red eyes.

cbchickadee This is what chestnut-backed chickadees look like. They're very tiny and they have a little black hat, not a full hood.

Backyard Birds ( in category Nature/Cats ) - posted at Fri, 16 Jan, 09:17 Pacific | «e»