Bird Behavior

'either birds or squirrels knocked over the birdbath'

Either the birds or the squirrels recently took my birdbath & knocked out the stone I had put in their so that it didn’t blow away. (It’s pretty light.) So now it is stuck under a bush in my yard. For some readon today the feeder was chock full of sparrows, which is pretty uncommon since sparrows usually prefer to feed on the ground. I have a new food in my feeder, which could be changing things. Instead of only Black Oil Sunflower Seed, I have a seed mix, which they seem to like just as well.

White-throated sparrow

'white-throated sparrow'

Yesterday I was able to identify for the first time a White-throated sparrow in my yard. I’d been thinking there was a new type of sparrow visiting my feeder for a while, & I finally figured out its name. These birds are a bit smaller than their song sparrow cousins, & they prefer to feed on seeds on the ground, rather than in a tree or on a feeder. In fact, they even build their nests on the ground, which is somewhat uncommon for small birds. Click on the link for loads of cool information (& a neat video) of these birds: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/White-throated_Sparrow/id. The best way to attract these birds is to put out a tray or platform feeder, which they like because they can stay on the ground to feed.

The birdbath

'the bird bath in my yard'

Cardinals have become much more common at my bird feeder. They love the warm weather & the sunflower seeds. They also enjoy the bird bath in my yard. (Actually, I find that the bird bath is becoming more popular than the feeder.) The sparrows, house finches, robins, & cardinals visit it frequently, & angrily peck at it when I forget to fill it. The only birds that almost never come to it are the common grackles. I’ve only seen a Blue jay once this season, which is odd; previous years they’ve been quite common. I know they’re around though, I’ve heard their noisy calling in the trees in my neighborhood. Blue jays aren’t the kindest birds, they’ve been known for killing the eggs, adults, & young of other bird species, particularly western bluebirds, & taking over their nests.

House Finch

Yesterday I saw a house finch flitting around my bird feeder. It’s bright red head & chest stood out among all the other sparrows at my feeder, with their feathers of brown & gray. House finches don’t come to my yard a lot, probably because it isn’t their preferred habitat, but I see them now & then. The female house finch looks much the same but lacks the red. The house finch has many different warbling calls & songs, click on the link to hear them: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/House_Finch/sounds. It has some neat info about house finches too. House finches look quite a bit like the purple finch & red crossbill, but have less red & a straight beak. They are widespread & pretty common in most parts of the U. S., & if you set out sunflower seed (their favorite food) & water, they may come to your yard bringing a flock of as many as 50 other house finches with them.

Cardinal Pair

"A male cardinal."

Today I saw a pair of northern cardinals hopping around the ground & in the trees & bushes. They follow each other around all the time; wherever one goes, the other’s right behind it. The female came very close to me, maybe 4 ft. away. Cardinals are bold birds & are quite territorial. Northern cardinals often exhibit what is referred to as mate-feeding. The male picks up a seed, hops over to the female, and the two momentarily touch beaks as the female takes the food. Mate-feeding continues throughout the egg-laying and incubation season. Northern cardinal pairs will typically remain together for the entire year, although in winter, they may separate. Pairs are usually monogamous & often stay mated until one dies; then the surviving bird will begin searching for another mate. Cardinals live for about 3 years in the wild, which is on the long side: most yardbirds live just over a year in the wild. Northern cardinals are easy to identify, the male is brilliant red with a crest & a black mask, & the female is pinkish-buff with red highlights & a bright red bill. She also has a crest. Their calls are easy to recognize. One of the most common is a loud, piercing, ascending whistle.

For those of you who love birds & are always looking for ways to attract more birds to your yard & neighborhood, try a ‘bird table’. It’s a simple wooden platform on a post in your yard, preferably with a roof (for snow & rain). You can find decent instructions on Google on how to make them. (Of course, you can always buy one.) Not only will they attract birds that wouldn’t come to a regular feeder, but you can put a variety of food on them for other birds that don’t eat your birdseed, & if you build it right, it won’t end up being a squirrel feeder. (Like everything else I’ve tried.) I will try to put one up in my yard, & if I succeed, (which, sadly, is rather unlikely) I will take a picture & post it on this site. Another thing to remember is WATER. Birds need lots of it.