Monday, March 12, 2012

Migrants and Residents

No, this isn't going to be a political blog entry. Rather, it's an appreciation of the wonderful birds that hang out in my yard during the Winter or pass through on their way to Summer nesting grounds. Or even just stick around all year long.

The purple finches pass through twice a year and sometimes stay for the cold months. They're wonderful little splashes of fuchsia in the branches and at the feeders.

Flickers are year-round residents, but they're more frequently seen on the ground in the warmer months, poking around for bugs. When it's cold, or until the bugs really get on a roll, they absolutely love the peanut butter dough I make for them. Well, everybody else does, too. It's like peanut butter cookies for the birds. :)

Yellow-rumped warblers surprised me with their taste for peanutty (is that a word?) goodness. They flew in with a flock of goldfinches and some pine siskins back in October and decided to stay for the season.

Yellow-bellied sapsuckers (sorry about the slightly blurry photo here) weren't as much of a surprise with respect to peanut butter, since all the woodpeckers love it, but the bluebirds love peanut butter cookie dough, too, and even learned how to pretend to be clinging birds so they could get at it! I'll try to get a couple pictures of them holding on for dear life - they're so cute - and they're absolutely stunning sitting on a limb in the sunshine. They remained with me all year this year, too.

A large contingent of goldfinches moved in for the Winter, and now all their cousins are flying up from their snowbird stomping grounds and having a snack and rest before flying on their merry way - they're eating me out of house and home. I won't have too much longer to enjoy them because they never seem to stick around to nest in my yard. They're also moulting and looking a bit motley these days. Patches of olive and yellow can be sort of comical - camo gone wrong. Perhaps they want to get all the awkward, transitional plumage taken care of before they move on to set up territories and go courting. Everyone wants to look their best on a date!!

Here's another warbler - it just tickles me how it learned to cling to the side of the feeder. At first, I would just stick some dough on top of the feeder log and they would fly down and eat that, but they decided they wanted more and learned how to do avian gymnastics.

And another flicker - I had seven or eight of these guys flitting around the yard last week. Pretty soon, they'll disappear into the woods to nest and won't come back until they're trying to keep up with their fledglings' appetites.

Bluebirds and finches don't mind sharing treats. I've seen three bluebirds and as many finches all foraging together. The cardinals share nicely with the finches and juncos and sparrows, too.

The downy woodpecker doesn't share quite as well. She doesn't want the bluebird to move into the bluebird house. She roosts there every night and has been known to toss other birds' nesting materials out the door when they tried to move in - this photo is pretty grainy because I took it really early in the morning. Madame Downy was surveying the world from her parlor window before going out for breakfast. That sleepy little striped face makes me chuckle every day.

What great entertainment -- way better than anything they've got on cable! ;-)


Ari C'rona said...

Love your little visitors! :o)

jackbear said...

another hobby we share!

Anonymous said...



Dizzy said...

I love the variety of birds we get at this time of year! Down here in SW MO we've also had lots of White Crowned Sparrows and they are so cute. We have a mated pair of Downeys and we also have at least one Red Bellied Woodpecker that eat our suet regularly. It's so fun to watch these guys eat their seed, but we have to be very careful because we also get lots of Grackles at our house. Unfortunately, that limits our food choices that we can offer. Probably my favorite visitor is a goldfinch that hangs out on the same peg of the feeder all day every day. We've named him "Norm" because he reminds me of the guy in Cheers, always on the same stool every day.

Anonymous said...

Wow, love the variety of feeders that you have! They must love the buffet!

2 Irish Chicks

Anne Bonny said...

What's your peanut butter dough recipe? I'm sure some of the birds around here (some of the squirrels too!) would love it!

Mama Cache said...

Simple pleasures. Just loved seeing a little slice of your life, my friend.

Webfoot said...

Wow! Lots of other bird lovers! How delightful! :)

I have had several requests via e-mail as well as the one here to reveal my peanut butter dough recipe. It's really very simple. I get a big jar of peanut butter or two (I usually use Jif Crunchy so that they have peanut parts to enjoy, but I have used Peter Pan in a pinch). Then, I mix it with yellow corn meal until it gets to the consistency of stiff cookie dough that will still smish into the holes of the feeder logs. Just don't let it get too crumbly in texture or it won't stay in the feeder and your squirrels will get more than the birds do.

The birds seem to like the combination of corn meal and peanut butter better than plain peanut butter (and that's okay, 'cause it stretches the expensive part of the recipe farther that way). I will also sometimes add any leftover nuts that were too broken up for whatever recipe I was using them for, bread crumbs or even a handful or two of little bird seeds to the mixture. They like it all.

I store it by putting it back into the peanut butter jars. Usually, one peanut butter jar mixed up with cornmeal and other goodies will nearly fill two of the same size peanut butter jars when I'm finished.