Thursday, January 6, 2011

Avian Notes

Here is our Primary Bird Feeding Station (and yes, we DO happen to have a Secondary Bird Feeding Station, as well as a Third and Fourth, but that's only because these bloody birds are all so bloody territorial).

This is where we have a suet feeder (which is more properly a peanut butter/bacon fat feeder but that's such a mouthful I tend to say suet feeder instead) and a seed house. The other stations involve large bird feeders and hummingbird feeders. I've also started scattering seed on top of an annual pot on the other corner of the deck, for when these feeders get too crowded. Because they do, especially with this cold winter we've been having.
At the moment it doesn't look like much, but that's because I shooed everyone away so I could get a picture without the frenzy that it usually is.

What I'm noticing this year in particular, more than last year or the year before, is how rotating the bird schedule is. Some birds are here all the time; some move around and only come here at certain times in the year. Right now it's Pine Siskin time. They hunch together on the seed feeder, even when it's windy. They are rather large to be hunching on such a small feeder, though, and tend to be the subject of great mirth to the kids as they swing about in the wind, clinging grimly. Last week it was Stellars Jay time. Most of the time, though, it's time for all the little birds: nuthatches, sparrows, juncos, towhees, bush tits, and chickadees (the black-capped version, according to some, is not on this Island, a fact I find rather surprising). And in between we have starlings, flickers, Northern flickers, woodpeckers, and the odd owl.

But I am feeling rather triumphant today, because I have foiled the starlings at long last. It only took me three years. I am nothing if not obsessed with thwarting these stupid piggy birds tenacious.

Here's my latest tip for keeping the starlings out of the suet feeder. I call it:

How Me and My Suet Feeder Managed To Foil The Starlings.

Take a large piece of chicken wire and wrap it around your suet feeder, leaving little spaces for the smaller birds to sneak in. Make sure there is at least 6" all round the suet feeder, including the top bit. The bush tits will be able to get in through the holes, but the chickadees and sparrows can't, so leave little slitty openings at the corners. If you know what a hamentashen is, well, that's the shape you're aiming for here. Birds with a long beak (flickers, woodpeckers) will be able to perch anywhere on this mess and access the suet feeder, but the starlings will have distinct difficulties getting hold without the entire thing swinging around madly. Once in a while you will find one makes it inside, but if you dash out when he's trapped you will scare the sh*# out of the entire flock when he finds he can't just fly away. If you are like me you will find this highly amusing. Eventually they will cease and desist, a thing you never thought possible.

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