Sunday, August 12, 2007

Backyard Birds

We decided this year to set up some bird feeders in our backyard in the hopes of attracting more birds. We have always attracted a few birds with the sunflowers that grow in our yard. We started with a single feeder which was successful in attracting a few birds in to eat. We have seen Pine Siskins, American Goldfinches, Dark-eyed Juncos, house sparrows, but mainly house finches. In the spring the Goldfinches were very active for a few weeks. Not bad for an urban neighborhood After adding a second feeder, the traffic in our yard increased again, but the diversity did not. We then put up our hummingbird feeder, which brought in a few visitors each day - Calliope and Black Chinned. In an effort to attract even more diversity, I decided to build a small platform on the fence. This made a huge difference. Mourning Doves and Black Capped Chickadees joined the party. Tons of House Finches came in as well. With 20 or more birds gathered around, a pint of food would disappear in less than a day. I counted eight finches on the small platform at one time! The Doves probably ate most of the food. They would come in and bully the others away. They were then forced to bully each other. We regularly have four doves at a time. We call them "Winged Coons" as they bully in and eat all of the food. Similar to what the raccoons do with our outdoor cat food.
When all of the food was gone, some of the finches went back to the feeder, but the rest just hung out waiting for more food. Since I couldn't keep the platform stocked, I decided to buy a food block and place in on the platform. The Mourning Doves figured it out right away, but most of the finches have not. I placed some loose food around the base of the block which attracted a lot of action. Still only a few of the finches figured out that the large block was food. Most of the small birds have gone back to the traditional feeders. I imagine that they will figure it out eventually.
We also have a good patch of sunflowers which are now producing seeds. These are clearly the favorite of the American Goldfinches. The Goldfinches rarely visit the feeders now. At nearly all times of the day there is at least one Goldfinch in the sunflowers. The House Finches occasionally visit the Sunflowers, but generally don't stay long, preferring instead the less work required at the feeders. The Goldfinches are the true organic eaters. I appreciate them even more fore preferring the natural stuff.

This article featured in the 56th edition of the I and the Bird Blog Carnival.

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