12-14-10 backyard bird count..

I almost got this guy in focus as he left his perch in Sunday's snowfall.

Spot count today…literally 2 minutes in length.

10am…13F…cloudy…snow on ground…no new sightings.

How can there be a new sighting when I am only at the window for 2 minutes?  LOL.  Anyway, I did see activity.  12 Juncos, 7 ETSparrows, 2 Doves, 3 Goldfinches and 1 female House Finch, 1 Grackle, 1 Cardinal.

I need to get out and replace my suet cake.  The woodies have about demolished it.  I have seen Juncos, Downys, Flickers, Red-bellieds, Grackles, Chickadees, Sparrows, and others eating the suet from time to time, but it’s mainly the woodpeckers. 

A quick recap of my menu out for the birds since I think it has really helped me attract diversity…..of course more to come, too.  I have two feeders filled with black oil sunflower seeds, a hopper feeder with small perches on it and a tube feeder of metal mesh that over a dozen birds can cling to.  I have two nyjer feeders out, a feeding sock for finches and a metal mesh tube feeder that I had to trim the base of to a smaller diameter to keep the doves off the base.  I have added the platform feeder that hangs from a shepherd’s hook.  All sorts of birds jump in here, along with squirrels.  I keep it filled with the cheap seed mixes that have lots of millet and milo seed for the sparrows and doves that feed mostly on the ground.  However, I find Juncos and Cardinals in there all the time, along with my finches.    Last, but not least, my suet feeder.  I keep it filled with a nutty blend of suet cake.  I am trying to attract members of the woodpecker family, which I have, but also thrashers, like the Catbird, Mockingbird, and Brown Thrasher, and also my Jays.  No luck on the Jays or Thrashers yet, but it’s only been out a couple weeks.

As I add in more variety, here is what I am thinking.  Jays can’t resist peanuts.  So, it’s about time to add these into the platform feeder again.  I did this back in spring at my other house and it was successful for the Titmice for sure.  It also brought a couple Blue Jays from the tip tops of my oak trees.  Until I added peanuts, I never saw a Blue Jay within 20 feet of the ground….an oddity compared to what I grew up with.  At Grandma’s the Jays were regular visitors to the hopper feeders.  Over here, at the new house, I have seen dozens of Jays in the trees behind my house.  However, I rarely see them at the feeders.  The peanuts will undoubtedly solve that.

If you wonder what I must be spending on all of this, I will break it down.  It’s not as bad as you think….but it’s also winter.  I bought a large 25lb bag of sunflower seed at Walmart for $13.  The suet cake was 2 bucks and the feeder itself was maybe 3.  The bag of cheap seed was a 15lb bag at ACE Hardware for literally $3.99.  Nyjer seed is the most expensive.  It runs about $7.50 for 5lbs.  However, I haven’t bought seed in 2 months!  So, if I bought it all today, it would cost me about $28.  That’s $14/month.  Noone will complain about that for the diversity I have….if they enjoy birds.  The trick is to keep the bigger birds on the ground and off the feeders.  They can really gobble up the seed.  I may write a content post on that, but it won’t be a long post for sure.

My biggest expense has been the feeders themselves.  I bought a pole feeder system and two feeders last year for $120ish.  They have been great, but they are also completely unneccessary.  I am just a bird nerd, so I justified the expense.  If you want to get started, my hopper feeder was free (I picked it up from a lawn client when he was cleaning out his “junk.”)  It was in great shape and costs $50 new today.  My bird bath was $26.  But, again, this is unneccessary.  Just grab yourself a couple of $15-$20 feeders at any store and hang them in a tree.  You dont need any fancy poles or metal mesh feeders.  My reasoning, though, was squirrels.  They have been an issue everywhere I’ve put out bird seed.  However, here, I have them figured out.  I have my feeders made of metal, not plastic or wood, and I have my pole baffled.  Squirrels can’t get up there, though they’ve tried.  The other hanging in my tree has a large baffle for a lid that the tree rats can’t get past so it’s safe, too.  Squirrels don’t do nyjer seed, so those are safe.  My suet cage is so far out on a branch the squirrels will break it if they try and get it.  And, my platform feeder is FOR the squirrels and trash birds to divert them from the good stuff.  Problem 99% solved, but it took some planning.  And, that gives me yet another idea for a content post……my trial and error with squirrels.

Anyway, this got longer than I thought.  Until next time…..Keep Chuggin’!


2 Responses to 12-14-10 backyard bird count..

  1. Rebecca Bunn says:

    Hi! I really enjoy reading your blog and I’ve often thought about recording my own backyard bird observations. Thank you for sharing! I was online looking for a less expensive source for Nyger seed. Flocks and flocks of goldfinches are going through it faster than I can keep up. Do you have any tips about where to find good seed and a reasonable price?

    Keep up the posting!

    • Sorry this is so late in coming back. But, no, I really don’t have any good places to buy inexpensive seed. I always watch for sales. However, when nothing is on sale, the best selection of anything you could possibly want is at the OK Hatchery in Kirkwood, MO. They are priced about like everywhere else, but they have so much more to offer.

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