Thursday, October 23, 2008

Birdfeeder Activities

It was dreary and sprinkly this afternoon, but that didn't slow down any of the bird activity at my feeders. However, this half-empty nyjer feeder wasn't winning me any new friends with my backyard goldfinch population.

There......that's better!

I've had to put some of my seasonal window clings up on the patio door. In the last 2 weeks, I've had 2 goldfinches lose their lives after flying into this door. Although it looks kind of stupid to have these clings stuck down in the middle of the window, it seems to be working because I haven't heard any more birdies hitting the glass or found anymore casualties on the deck.

Here's a little junco also enjoying some nyjer seed in the tray feeder on my deck. I've got lots of juncos in the yard again now.

There was also an abundance of red-winged blackbirds in the backyard this afternoon. I think somehow or other they know there are winter storm warnings in Nebraska and Kansas, so they have decided to stick around here a little bit longer before heading south. Here's a male red-winged blackbird now wearing his "winter" plumage (according to my Kaufman field guide). I guess I never knew that the males didn't have black feathers year round. The brownish feathers give this red-winged blackbird a bit of a resemblance to a starling, don't you think?

And out in my fly-thru feeder I had 4 red-winged blackbirds--2 males and 2 females. I've always liked the red-winged blackbirds and hearing their calls in the backyard gave me a nice flashback to the early days of summer.

According to the weatherman, it sounds like we're coming to the end of our moderate autumn weather. As the huge low pressure system currently creating winter weather nightmares in Nebraska and Kansas continues on its northeastern path, our weather is predicted to change dramatically by the end of the weekend. One forecaster used the phrase, "from awesome to awful" when describing our Saturday to Sunday weather (I even heard the dreaded "S" word!) I guess we'll have to wait and see how "awful" it's really going to be, but in the meantime, I'd better make sure my birdfeeders stay full for my backyard feathered friends.


Anonymous said...

You still have some red-winged blackbirds hanging around, you can barely see the red. It pays to keep the feeders full, doesn't it. So far we haven't had a junco even in the yard, no hawks either. I sure enjoyed the pics.


Chicken Mama said...

Redwing Blackbirds are one of my FAVORITE birds, and their song is definitely a favorite - a sure harbinger of summer each year!

Oddly enough, the Redwing Blackbirds we had at our cabin in SW MN on Lake Shetek (we had to sell it 2 years ago) sang a DIFFERENT song than the ones we have here in NE MN. But, they LOOK exactly the same. The birds who came to the feeders down there sang a 'Whee-whee-whee-whoo-whoo-whoo' from high (octaves) to low as they landed, and I've NEVER heard that up here. Hmmmmm . . . !

And, I'm surprised you don't have critters (raccoons, etc) getting into your on-the-deck-floor feeder!

Anyway, I'm a regular reader now!


Mary said...

Our RW Blackbirds are long gone. Oh, I hope the "S" doesn't materialize... We will have two days of rain starting tomorrow.

As far as your Golfinches and backyard birds, my immediate response to this post is:


Ruth said...

Very interesting about the RWBs. I saw a large flock passing through earlier this month and noticed the brown feathers. I didn't realize they changed. I have been seeing Juncos for the past week or so.

Jayne said...

That's interesting Ruthie. I didn't realize either that the Red wings shed that plumage for winter. Rainy and cold here today too.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Your birdies are lucky to have you taking such good care of them Ruthie. It is intresting how Redwing blackbirds go through so many plummages and since we don't pay much attention to them they can appear like different birds to us. Especially when they aren't in a field or someplace more common.

It is funny that you are dreading snow. We always celebrate here when we get snow. Of course we don't have snow very often. I might learn to dread it if we had lots of snow. Have a good weekend anyway.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Mom,
How odd that you haven't seen any juncos yet..... And it looks like the Cooper's hawk still has my backyard on its regular dining list!

Hi Chicken Mama,
Welcome as a regular reader! :-)

That's interesting about the regional variation in the RW Blackbird songs--I'll have to pay more attention the next time I'm out that way.

Right now the only wild critters visiting my backyard feeders are deer and 1 oppossum. I think the possum finds enough food farther out in the yard that he's never come up on the deck. As far as raccoons go--I'm pretty sure there are a couple neighbors trapping and/or shooting them.

Oh Mary, I didn't mean to make you sad. I hope you can get your feeders back out again soon!

Hi Ruth,
I wouldn't have noticed the plumage color either except for that one bird (in photo #5) was at the feeder right outside the dining room window. Then I checked my field guides and discovered they do change plumage. Probably I never noticed it before because we usually don't have Red-Wings in the wintertime either.

Hi Jayne,
It never rained too hard and our high today was about 57 which actually felt kind of warm, so you know we're already adjusting to the colder temps.

Hi Lisa,
It IS interesting that there are even regional differences in color and song for the same bird. It sure makes birding interesting (at least for me)

We usually get a few snow flurries in October, but this weather system they're predicting includes high winds and low temps of 27 degrees! So I need to get some apples picked and my carrots dug up before "winter" arrives on Sunday.

Marsha said...

I never get the red wings except for in the spring so I didn't know about the coloring change. How interesting! Our yard is full of juncos and they are so fun to watch hopping around the garden. We've had rain for 3 days now, I'm ready for sunshine but alas I've heard the same forecast as you.

Richard said...

Haven't seen a RWB this fall and only a few grackles and crows and I don't have as many Goldfinches as you do. My population is Juncos, Nuthatches, and Chickadees along with Blue Jays and 2 Cardinals.

Julie said...

You're kidding? Snow?!? You've been warmer than we have. We didn't see snow, but lots of steady, yucky rain. Its still partly cloudy, but you can see bits of sunshine. Its supposed to clear off for the weekend. We're ready for some warmer weather.
Just checked, Squaw Creek now has 7000 white fronted geese (up from 1000), 1200 Canada geese, and 200 snow geese - their first count of them! That means the eagles are on their way. You can get the full report here:

Richard said...

Spoke to early. Hugh flocks of RWB, Starlings, and Grackles moved into the trees. Boy are they noisy. Maybe I can get them to rake the

Red said...

Snow? Already? eeps!
If you and Mr. Johnson aren't hunting this weekend, a trip to CA may be in order :) It's supposed to be beautiful all weekend! Sunny and mid-80s in my area.

I don't mean that to make anyone feel bad... just suggesting an option!

jan m said...

My nyjer is getting low too, and I need to buy some more this weekend. Seed is getting so expensive!
We had a great number of RWB last weekend. Since I miss out on daylight hours during the week, I am curious to see if any are still around this weekend.

Mary C said...

Cool looking seasonal clings, Ruthie. I was surprised you recently experienced window strikes. I would have thought that the sun's position in your area would have been at an angle that would have avoided birds crashing into your glass. It seems like it happens to us during spring migration time (early spring) and early fall. I keep the window clings up all year - laziness on my part, but also to help "train" fledglings and juvies to stay clear.

RuthieJ said...

Hi Marsha,
I hope you guys made it through the first blast of winter OK.

Hi Richard,
I had quite a few grackles migrating through last week, but I think (hope!) that most of them are gone now till next spring--Goldfinches are a lot more fun!

Hi Julie,
Thanks for the link--I hope you get a chance to see all that waterfowl for yourself!

Hi Red,
Thanks for the invite.....can I take a raincheck till January or February? I'm pretty sure I'll need a break from winter by then!

Hi Jan,
I've noticed increasing birdseed prices too. 20 lbs of nyjer last week ended up costing me $28! Yikes! But they're so fun to watch I'm just not ready to take any feeders down yet--I'll have to figure out something else to cut back on.

Hi Mary,
I'm wondering about the rash of window strikes too. That busy feeder in the picture is about 12 feet away from the patio door. My only thought is that when the Cooper's Hawk flies into the yard the birds fly off so fast in alarm and sometimes just fly the wrong way. The good news is that there have been no more dead finches on the deck since I put up those window clings.

Mary C said...

Oh, I forgot you had mentioned about the Coopers' who frequent your yard. Yes, unfortunately, the poor little songbirds will take flight in panic and not notice where they are headed.

Heather said...

The attendance at our feeders here in Ohio has been dismal for the last few months. The goldfinches picked up for a little while as they were feeding their little ones, but since then, not much action. I haven't refilled the suet feeders for weeks. I'm bummin'!
Do you participate in Project Feederwatch by any chance?

Owlman said...

No Red wings left here...great pics

RuthieJ said...

Hi Mary C,
I've had a downy woodpecker and dove hit that same window when the Cooper's hawk flew through the backyard, so I think that's probably what happened. But I'm happy to report that since I put the window clings up, still no more collisions, so that's good news.

Hi Heather,
Sometimes I'll have to go for days without refilling my feeders too and I always wonder what happens to keep the birds away--but they eventually come back.
I've done Project FeederWatch for a couple years, but I think this year is going to be a "bye" for me--I don't think I'll be able to set aside enough time every week to watch and count as closely as I'd like.

Thanks Owlman. There was still 1 red-wing in the yard on Monday (our record warm day), but hopefully they'll all move on before the wintery weather moves in this weekend.