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claireplymouth

Project FeederWatch 2008

The Project FeederWatch 2007/2008 thread is getting a bit long and slow to load, so I'm starting a new one.

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I know you're not supposed to like starlings, but who can resist this sequence when a starling discovers a heated bird bath, on a morning when the air temperature has struggled to get up to 18 degrees? The other birds are being polite.

WHOOPEE! SOMEONE PUT A HOT TUB OUT HERE!



ANYBODY GOT A TOWEL?

Claire

Comments (43)

  • sooey
    16 years ago

    Wow...Great Shots, Claire! Were you standing on your deck? That Starling looks very happy, indeed. Heated water or not, it makes me cold just thinking about it.

    I have a Sparrow that I need to figure out it's exact ID. It has white or yellow eyebrow stripes. It keeps busy on the ground, I've never seen it at the feeder. I think it's the White throated sparrow. Very busy and very shy...not easy to get a good, long look at it. It's a cutie.

    sooey

  • claireplymouth z6b coastal MA
    Original Author
    16 years ago

    That's the view from my bedroom. I had to shoot through a slit in the curtains - the birds hate seeing me above them. Probably because of hawks in the trees.

    i just learned recently that there are two types of white-throated sparrows. One with white eyebrow stripes and one with tan stripes. They both have a yellow spot by the eye. They never go to my feeders; they just scurry around on the ground, sometimes scratching as if they're digging in the litter.

    This is a tan-striped white-throated sparrow (at least I think so). I also have the white-striped kind.


    I also saw my very first fox sparrow this week. I didn't even know they existed until I hit my field guides trying to figure out what bird had those brown splotches on its breast.

    I've started using the "sport" feature on my camera to take bird shots. It makes rapid fire continuous shots with auto focus so at least a few will be usable.

    Claire

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    Five (5) warblers on the rose arch today! Flying back and forth and taking turns on the suet. They seem to be used to me now and don't panic if I don't move too fast. This one landed on the wisteria pseudo-standard which is near the arch, and stared in at me. You looking at me?!?! sooey: I'll probably be shunned by the Birdfeeder Corp, but I rarely clean the tube feeder. When I first started using it, I'd top off the tube when the level of seed got below the top portals. But when I did this for a while, I noticed that the bottom layer of seed was getting nasty looking and moldy, particularly if it had rained recently. Naturally, I'd then take it apart and clean it thoroughly. After a while though, I started completely emptying out the tube feeder on the ground when it begins to get a bit low and I make sure the bottom floor of the tube is free of debris. Then I add brand new seed, filling up the tube feeder. This way the bottom layer of seed in the feeder is always fresh. This works very well since I spread seed on the ground anyway and it gets eaten up fast. I've never seen any evidence of disease in the birds, so I'm not worried at this time. I do clean the tube feeder when it begins to look like it needs it. Claire
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    Hi Kids, Well, it has happened again...another PFW season has come to an end. I for one was happy to see April 3rd arrive, I had run out of steam. My data has been entered and I am surprised to see how different this season was from last. I had a few birds last season that I did not see this season: white-throated sparrow tree sparrow golden crowned kinglet pine warbler I saw the brown creeper on several occations but never on a count day. I had only one bird this season that was new and that was the pine siskin. Friday the 3rd was my last count day for the season. On Saturday the 4th I had a Mama turkey sitting on my deck for the longest time. That was a first for me. Yesterday, I saw my first pine warbler. I've also noticed more pine siskin this week than in weeks past. How long with they stay around? Beautiful flicker, Claire. I find that the flicker does not like me to be around while s/he is at the suet feeder. When I see them, I know I need to stay away from the window/slider. Such a beautiful bird with such a beautiful tail. sooey who is now happy to enjoy the birds without feeling like it's homework... ;) but who will very soon get excited about a bird and wish she has someone to report it to... :(
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  • sooey
    16 years ago

    Hi Claire,

    I think the little sparrow I am seeing is indeed the White throated sparrow. Thanks you for the picture. The fact that it comes in the tan or white stripe variety adds to my confusion. They are so fast and so shy that I often confuse them with the American tree sparrow which I also confuse with the Chipping sparrow. That little Fox sparrow you have is a real beauty. Very Town and Country. And, you are right, none of these little sparrows like to be watched. I can sit at my slider in the basement and have a great view of them, but they also have a great view of me...they don't like that. So many sparrows.

    I hope you are enjoying your new camera...I know the rest of us are...

    sooey

  • claireplymouth z6b coastal MA
    Original Author
    16 years ago

    I got a response from FeederWatch - the White-throated sparrow photo is not a tan-striped, it's a white-striped White-throated sparrow.

    "The White-throated Sparrow does come in a range of colors from tan-striped to white-striped, but the photo you sent shows a white-striped. All should be reported simply as White-throated Sparrow.

    Happy FeederWatching,
    Anne Marie Johnson
    Project Assistant"

    Today as it got dark I looked out at the non-heated bird bath and it looked like the water was moving. I got out the field glasses and just barely saw a sparrow, probably a white-throat, splashing around. Temperature was about 50.

    A couple days ago I saw a red-bellied woodpecker drinking from that bird bath (it was too cold for a bath). Sorry about the poor focus on the photo, but I loved the expression on the bird. It has a white throat to shame any sparrow.

    I love my new camera!

    Claire

  • sooey
    16 years ago

    Oh My! I LOVE the red-bellied woodpecker. It's always such a surprise when I look out and see one on the suet feeder. They stop me in my tracks. Are those female Cardinals, two of them, in that picture? Water in winter is key.

    sooey

  • terrene
    16 years ago

    Claire That's a great birdbath! The birds really seem to love it. Did you get that recently? Where did you get it? I was thinking about a heated birdbath - and somebody on the BW forum suggested a heated water bowl for dogs as an inexpensive solution. Yours is so much more attractive though.

    I love the fact that many new Woodpeckers are coming to the Suet Log this winter. Last winter it was just the Downys who came to eat. In the past couple months, I've seen Hairy, Red-bellied, and Northern Flickers for the first time.

    I was able to get a picture of a male Hairy yesterday. A cute lil Chickadee was in the picture so you can see that the Hairy is much bigger than the Chickadee, whereas the Downy is not that much bigger.

    Also lots of Goldfinches coming by the last couple days, to eat the BOSS. I also taped a clump of dried Echinacea seedheads to my feeding pole and the Goldfinches pick at the seeds.

    {{gwi:1056885}}

    {{gwi:1056888}}

  • claireplymouth z6b coastal MA
    Original Author
    16 years ago

    sooey: Those are indeed female cardinals. That's an unheated bird bath - I break the ice and refill it, sometimes several times a day. Every once in a while I'll find a hole drilled in the ice - I figure a crow probably punched it.

    terrene: Nice photos! I particularly like the goldfinch looking noble by the seedheads.

    I think I got the heated bird bath at Gardener's Supply, but they don't seem to have it now. I decided against a deck-mounted heated bird bath because I didn't want a lot of critters traipsing across my deck. Sooey has the deck-mount and I think she's happy with it.

    Duncraft has a similar one:

    Heated bird bath at Duncraft

    About a month ago I noticed a little red-breasted nuthatch hanging around with the chickadees. The coloring is very similar, at least when the birds are flitting back and forth. It disappeared for a while, but I'm trying out a new bird seed mix and today the nuthatch slowed down enough for some photos.

    I took some photos of a chickadee for comparison.


    White-breasted nuthatches are common here, but this is the first red-breasted nuthatch I've seen.

    That's a new thistle seed sock in the background.

    Claire

  • sooey
    16 years ago

    Good Morning, All.

    First off, Happy Birthday, Claire! I know I am a day late and I am sorry. But, I hope your day was wonderful and full of good CAKE! hummmmm...cake...

    Again, great shots, Claire. I also love the red breasted nuthatch. We have them here on the Cape, almost the same in number as the white breasted...almost. I love to see them hop up and down the trees. The Nuthatch is not as hyper as Chickadees but they do look similar in size and color. They always look like they are pointing.

    Claire, what is the seed mix you are feeding? It looks like a mix of thistle, BOSS, shelled sunflower, safflower, peanuts, corn but what is the pinkish seed I see in there? I will need seed next week and, since I still do not have an issue with squirrels at my high tube feeder, I thought I would try some shelled sunflower at that station. I also need to get a new thistle sock and second suet feeder. Do you think these birds know how lucky they are?

    Happy Birthday a day late, Ms. Claire!

    sooey

  • claireplymouth z6b coastal MA
    Original Author
    16 years ago

    Thanks sooey - actually it was a birthday Key Lime pie that ruined my diet. I love Key Lime pie....

    I found a new bird supply store, the Wareham Feed Company (an AGWAY) in Wareham MA. It was listed on the Droll Yankee website as having a huge variety of products. It certainly does. They had a bag of Wild Delight Nut N' Berry bird seed that has more ingredients than your average Granola plus a multi-vitamin.

    Wild Delight Nut N' Berry

    Supposedly pleases:

    PRIMARY BIRDS
    Woodpeckers, Songbirds, Finches, Exotic Wild Parakeets, Thrushes, Warblers, Wrens, Titmice, Song Sparrows and more.

    $30 for a 20 lb bag, although there's not much waste (few seed hulls) so it should last longer. I also got the thistle seed sock and some suet with dehydrated insects in it.

    I added some cracked corn and thistle seed to the seed mix to broaden the appeal. I don't know if I'll continue with it, but the birds seem happy. Except that there's been a lot of hawk activity; the birds will disappear for a long time. The blue jays come screaming through to give the alarm. I saw another Cooper's Hawk today, this one an adult.

    Claire

  • sooey
    16 years ago

    Well, I am off to my local Agway. I need to pick up another plastic tray/water bowl. I feel the need for a second bird bath here at the basement slider. It will not be heated but it will be close enough that I will be able to knock out anything frozen, clean and refill with ease. I'll also check out their seed.

    sooey -
    who loves a good Seed 'n Feed as well as key lime pie...

  • claireplymouth z6b coastal MA
    Original Author
    16 years ago

    I saw a White-winged Crossbill today! I'd never seen one before and I'd kind of suspected they were a birding myth. Real birds don't look like that, but the trusty camera caught it. It looks like it got a nice hand-knit sweater for Christmas.

    And the bill is really crossed!

    A more common bird I sometimes see is the Carolina Wren. It likes to hop along my porch and deck railings, but today it ended up on the rose arch. The unfocused area by the head is from rain drops on the window.

    Rain and thunderstorms today. I wonder if birds can find a dry roosting place or if they have to tough it out under dripping branches.

    Claire

  • sooey
    16 years ago

    Oh My Goodness...I have never seen a White-winged Crossbill. What a different looking bird s/he is. How lucky we all are that you had your camera at the ready. Good Job! I love the Carolina Wren. always so happy and busy. I love to see them hop up and down the trees. And, their voice is so strong for such a little bird.

    sooey

  • gardenbear1
    16 years ago

    I would love to put up a feeder but there are too many cats running around here and I hate seeing the little birds get eatin so I toss seed out on the ground in the open so they can get some food and still see if then darn cat are comming and fly away

    Bear

  • terrene
    16 years ago

    Claire that's cool you saw a White-winged Crossbill. I saw one back in December, it stayed for about 10 minutes eating BOSS (black-oil sunflower seed) and haven't seen it since. You seem to be attracting quite a variety of birds to your yard.

    Gardenbear, I have cats that come through the feeding area from time to time, but they can't get up to the feeders. My feeders are pole-mounted about six feet up, with squirrel/raccoon baffles. I try to keep the immediate area around the feeders clear of most low-growing vegetation so the birds can see what's lurking around.

    The bigger problem I have is with the pesky squirrels - they've figured out how to get up a shrub and jump to another shrub and then to one of the poles. It drives me nuts, it's not that they don't have seed and other tidbits on the ground to eat. So I have to move a couple shrubs in the Spring, but then maybe add a fountain or small water feature in the new space.

  • claireplymouth z6b coastal MA
    Original Author
    16 years ago

    Bear: I also have issues with cats, but they don't get up on the pole-mounted feeders. I place seed on the ground anyway for the groundfeeders like mourning doves. The song sparrows and white-throated sparrows never go up on the feeders, but they're all over the ground seed. Finches eat both on the ground and on the feeders.

    terrene: I had to move feeders away from the trees (it's a lot harder to move a full-size pine tree than to move a shrub) to keep the squirrels from the death-defying leap onto the feeder. The squirrel/racoon baffles work very well to prevent shinnying up the pole.

    Before I moved the hopper feeder, I would sometimes engage in staring contests with a squirrel who was up on a pine ready to launch. It learned to look and see if I was at the kitchen window, because I would run out and chase it away. All that leaping and frantic scrambling to stay on top of the hopper was for naught if I saw it.

    The bigger danger to the birds here is the Cooper's Hawks. At least one seems to be here every day, sometimes several times a day.

    This is a rural area, with woods across the street and a heavily vegetated coastal bank on the other side of the house. That makes good habitat for birds, and I'm trying to make my yard a slightly domesticated extension of the woods, at least at the perimeter. I figure the birds are out there - I just have to entice them to come in and eat.

    Claire

  • claireplymouth z6b coastal MA
    Original Author
    16 years ago

    Ah yes; another day, another Cooper's Hawk. This one flew down into the vegetation and stalked around looking for lunch.

    It then walked out into the main feeding area and apparently realized it was being watched. That didn't seem to worry it much.

    It walked around a little longer then flew off.


    It amazes me that the little target birds come back so soon - although I guess this is just a part of their life and they don't have a choice if they want to eat. Maybe they see the hawk fly off and know it won't be back for a while.

    I just looked out and a bunch of mourning doves are hunkered down a few feet away from where the hawk walked. They'll probably roost there tonight.

    Claire

  • terrene
    16 years ago

    Wow cool pictures of the hawk Claire! Taking a little stroll through the feeding area like he owns the place. He (she) is a beautiful bird. I saw a big Coopers Hawk fly through yesterday. The other birds clear out quickly. I guess it goes with the territory, if you're going to put out food and attract a large numbers of birds to an area, it will attract predators too.

    I decided to put up a new suet feeder this weekend - bought a wire cage and some suet from the grocery store. Just the regular chunks of fat they sell in the freezer section. Then I hung the wire cage on the north side of the big Pin Oak near the feeding station.

    Didn't take long for a smart little Downy to find the suet -

    {{gwi:1056909}}

  • sooey
    16 years ago

    Nice suet cage, terrene. I get the same type of solid, fat suet from the grocery store. The birds love it. I buy several packs and keep it in the freezer. I have found that the feeder itself can be a problem. Years and years ago my Father had to fasten our cage directly to the tree using three very long staples. That was the only way he could keep the Raccoons from making off with the suet, cage and all. It also has to be fastened shut with brass spring clasps. Those Raccoons are hungry, strong and very tenacious. Suet is great for attracting all sorts of birds. It offers some much needed fat to their diet.

  • claireplymouth z6b coastal MA
    Original Author
    16 years ago

    I haven't tried the plain solid fat for suet. I'll have to look and see if Shaw's carries it. Can you use it in late spring/early summer or does it get rancid?

    I've been buying the prepared blocks in various places, trying to choose blocks that have good ingredients. It infuriates me when the label says they have fruit flavoring.

    I had great hopes for the prepared suet with dehydrated insects in it, thinking I would attract more insect-eating birds, but the birds aren't exactly crawling all over it. The suet blocks last for weeks now, and I'm worried about them getting rancid. In the spring in breeding season, particularly when the grackles are here, a block will only last a day or two.

    Claire

  • sooey
    16 years ago

    Hi Claire,

    I get my suet at Shaw's. Sometimes I find it in the fresh meat section but this winter I find it in the frozen meat section. I had to ask the Butcher. I cut the chunks into hunks...about the size of 1/2 pound of butter and, it takes about three days for the birds to go through it. They clean it up. The suet feeder I have on the tree has larger 'holes', so if the crows are about, and I'm not watching, they will clean it up in just a few visits. I've never had an issue with it going rancid.

    sooey

  • terrene
    16 years ago

    I was wondering about the squirrels and raccoons with the suet cage hanging on the tree. So far the only creatures showing interest are the Downys and the Chickadees. But we'll see.

    Okay my understanding of the whole Suet situation....

    The raw suet chunks that you buy in the grocery store are not rendered - which means they have little chunks of meat called "crackling" in the suet. It's the crackling that spoils just like any other meat. Rendering is a process of boiling and straining the suet to remove the crackling, which results in pure fat. Rendered suet can be stored in the cupboard. Unrendered suet should be stored in the freezer.

    The "Simply Suet" I buy at WBU is rendered - and has a shelf life of years and remains solid up to 95 degrees F. I have used both rendered and unrendered suet in the suet mixture I make, both work perfectly fine, but when I used unrendered suet I stored the suet mixture in the freezer and would only feed it during cold weather. Using rendered Suet is much more convenient and the suet mixture can be used all summer!

    Claire, the pre-packaged suet packets you buy are probably using rendered suet. From what I've read, there is quite a variation in quality and the birds like some brands better than others.

  • terrene
    16 years ago

    With the snowstorm the other day (a winter wonderland!), the feeders have been very busy. The Bluebirds are showing up everyday, sometimes several times a day. Guess they've decided they really like the peanut butter suet mixture in the winter when there are no insects to eat! :)

    Got a couple cute pictures of a White-breasted Nuthatch on the Suet log. In the 2nd one, he's got his favorite tidbit, a nut that he pecks out of the suet mixture:

    {{gwi:1056910}}

    {{gwi:1056911}}

    The snow covering the Echinacea seedheads didn't stop the Goldfinches from wanting to grab a few seeds:

    {{gwi:233016}}

  • diggingthedirt
    16 years ago

    Great photos, all. Love the shots of the birds, and looking at the snow on this thread is almost as much fun as having it in the yard would be. Nothing in sight, as far as that goes.

  • claireplymouth z6b coastal MA
    Original Author
    16 years ago

    Nice shots of the White-breasted Nuthatch - a very endearing little bird. I haven't seen one here for a few weeks, just the Red-breasted. The nuthatches look like little seals when they're pointed down and lift their heads to look straight ahead.

    And the little goldfinch is still looking noble, even with the snow.

    I think I'm going to sacrifice one block of insect suet and replace it with another flavor to see if it's more popular. I've seen downies and red-bellies in the last few days so they're still around.

    I'll probably go to Shaw's tomorrow so I'll look for the raw stuff.

    Claire

  • claireplymouth z6b coastal MA
    Original Author
    16 years ago

    Shaw's had a big selection of beef suet in the refrigerated section, so I bought a nice chunk and a new suet cage. There must be a lot of birders nearby for Shaw's to put all this stuff in plain view.

    I took the insect suet block and threw it on the ground for whomever. I replaced it with a store-bought "Woodpecker Treat" block.

    As a test (I'm a lapsed scientist), I set up a triad on the shepherd's crook. The top is C&S Woodpecker Treat, the middle is the mostly empty suet pine cone, and the bottom is the raw beef suet. So far the Downy likes the C&S block, but it may not have noticed the bottom stuff yet. Stay tuned.

    Claire

  • claireplymouth z6b coastal MA
    Original Author
    16 years ago

    Today, Friday, I looked out and saw a tufted titmouse on the bottom, pure fat, feeder. I leaped for the camera, but by the time I got it aimed and focused, the tufted titmouse was on the top and stayed there for a while.



    A little later I saw another downy, probably a female this time (I didn't get a good view of the back of the head), on the top feeder.

    So far, the C&S Woodpecker Treat suet block is the clear winner, but it's way early in the selection process. I'm hoping to catch a red-belly on one of the suet feeders. So far, the red-belly seems to prefer the new seed mix.

    Claire

  • terrene
    16 years ago

    Claire, is that a Red-breasted Nuthatch on the bottom suet cage in that last photo? What is in that Woodpecker mix? I'll be curious to see what birds eat which suet.

    As of today, I've seen Downys, Chickadees, Carolina Wrens, Nuthatches both Red and White-breasted, and a Titmouse (briefly) on the Suet cage. The Downys seem to like it best. Haven't seen any of the other Woodpeckers around since I put that up. The squirrels don't seem to be interested in the raw suet.

    A lot of birds will eat the Black Oil Sunflower Seed. But overall, the home-made peanut butter suet mixture on the Suet log attracts the greatest variety of birds.

  • claireplymouth z6b coastal MA
    Original Author
    16 years ago

    Hey, you've got good eyes! I missed that, it wasn't in the picture before and after this one. I was trying so hard to keep the downy in the view (about 60 feet away) that I didn't see the other bird strike. I had to check the original photo full-screen to confirm that.

    I forgot to mention that earlier I had seen a red-breasted nuthatch on the top feeder, but just very quickly.

    The Woodpecker Treat suet contains:

    "DESCRIPTION:
    Rendered beef suet, roasted peanuts, almonds, pecans corn and oats. Treats will become soft and pliable at 100 degrees if exposed to extreme heat. They will return to normal hardness at room temperature. Our quality allows suet to be fed YEAR ROUND. "

    C&S Woodpecker Treat

    Claire

  • ellen_s
    16 years ago

    What great pictures! Claire, excellent shot of the hawk. Yikes! I wouldn't want to be a songbird with those beady eyes trained upon me!!

    Terrene, I am envious that you have Carolina Wrens. We had one at our previous house but have never seen one here. They have the most beautiful song for a tiny bird. Ours used to spend time in our chiminea during really bad winter weather.

    Also love the Goldfinch with the coneflower seedheads.

  • terrene
    16 years ago

    SIXTY feet away? Wow, your feeders are pretty far from the house. The Suet Log is about SIX feet away from the window, the BOSS feeders a little farther. The Suet cage, about 20. That is the only way I get decent closeups, since my little Canon powershot only has a 3x zoom.

    Ellen, there are a pair of Carolina Wrens overwintering nearby, and I see the two cuties almost every day. They are vocal for a small bird, and boy do they sass at my cat when she goes outside occasionally. They are probably overwintering in one of the brush piles, and there happen to be many in the back yard right now due to tree work this past year. I highly recommend a few brush piles if you don't have them already, since they are particularly attracted to them. Always hopping in and around them. Sometimes they like to hang out under the deck. They also like suet or peanut butter suet, they do not eat the BOSS.

    Last summer, a pair nested in my neighbors hanging basket on her porch. They fledged four little babies. I am thinking of putting up a hanging basket, even though EVERY container plant I ever grow outside "fails to thrive" (I do have beautiful houseplants), just to see if they'll nest in it. I could try a hanging fuschia since CTlady on the other thread said that hummers love them.

    Here is a pic from last August of the Carolina Wren babies in the plant. Also a pic I took last month of the Bluebirds, but if you look at the top you'll see a Carolina Wren eating suet too.

    {{gwi:1056915}}

    {{gwi:1056916}}

  • claireplymouth z6b coastal MA
    Original Author
    16 years ago

    That's probably the only photo of baby birds I've seen where they're asleep! Usually you get a view of the gaping mouths pleading with you to drop food in.

    I do have one suet feeder about 6 feet from the house, hanging from the rose arch. It's not well frequented, the wren is about the only bird eating there. Sometimes a titmouse or chickadee or blue jay will visit, but it may be too close to the house for other birds.

    I have so many different feeding areas that the birds probably go where they feel safest. Considering the hawks, I don't blaim them. The areas where I throw seed on the ground attract the most birds, even ones who also go to the poles.

    Claire

  • claireplymouth z6b coastal MA
    Original Author
    16 years ago

    Another episode in the saga of the suet feeder: This morning I saw a red-breasted nuthatch on the top cage and grabbed the camera.

    It started on the top (C&S Woodpecker Treat),

    moved down for a nibble on the suet cone,


    and ended up on the raw suet cage.

    The nuthatch is really the only bird I've seen on on the raw suet;, the downies invariably stay on the top. I saw a Red-bellied Woodpecker twice this morning, both times on the hopper feeder with the bird seed, not on suet.

    The bottom line seems to be that suet doesn't have great appeal to most birds in my yard in the early winter, except for downies and nuthatches, and that the downies prefer the packaged suet with goodies. Other birds such as tufted titmice, chickadees, blue jays and wrens will nibble occasionally. Maybe the Nut N' Berry bird seed mix I've been using supplies enough fat for most of them.

    Later in the season it may change as their fat supplies get depleted (if they do). It also will be interesting when the grackles arrive to breed, since they and the red-winged blackbirds stuff their babies with suet. Last spring there were constant airlifts of birds flying off to their nests with beaks full of suet.

    At this point I'm not going to bother with raw suet - it doesn't get eaten fast enough here to keep from getting rancid. And no way am I going to render it in my kitchen.

    Claire

  • sooey
    16 years ago

    Hi Kids,

    I have a new bird to add to my Feeder Watch Count. It's a Brown Creeper. I have never noticed this little bird until I started with PFW. The first time I saw it I had no idea what it was. It moves very fast, always on the side of the tree, never at the feeders but seems to like the suet and, it always moves up the tree not down the tree. I checked out my bird book and came up with a Brown Creeper. I was finally able to get some pictures of it, sent them off to Anne Marie at Cornell and she has confirmed it. I was rather excited...

    This is a very small and very fast bird. s/he is always moving except when at the suet.

    This little bugger really blends in with the bark of the tree. If I had not seen it in motion I would have missed it all together.

    Hope these pictures are not too large. It was not easy to get them small enough and still show some scale of size. I would say it is smaller than a White Breasted Nuthatch but larger than a Red Breasted Nuthatch. Its song is a high pitched trill, very sweet.

    sooey
    who is very excited with her new find...

  • claireplymouth z6b coastal MA
    Original Author
    16 years ago

    Congratulations! Not your run-of-the-mill feeder bird! I'll bet it would only go to a feeder attached to a tree.

    Isn't it great to be able to take a digital photo and email it to the bird people for identification!

    Claire

  • sooey
    16 years ago

    Hi Claire,

    Yes! Having Anne Marie at PFW is wonderful! I strive for accuracy in my bird IDs. I would never include a bird in my FW data if I was not as close to 100% sure as I could be. My only problem is, getting photos good enough to send off to her/them. And yes, I think you are correct. I don't think The Brown Creeper will frequent our 'free hanging' suet cages or feeders. But...I'll let you know if I see it happen.

    sooey

  • claireplymouth z6b coastal MA
    Original Author
    16 years ago

    I saw a male Red-winged Blackbird today! A good sign of spring if you see them in March, but an anomaly in January.

    The busybody Blue Jays were checking the blackbird out. "Hmmm, what's this doing here in the middle of winter? At least it won't eat as much as the spring hordes."

    Red-winged Blackbirds before Groundhog Day?

    Claire

  • sooey
    16 years ago

    Oh My Goodness! We don't see them until much warmer weather. Good Find, Ms. Claire!

    I love PFW. It has made me take my time and really look at the birds. With time, I have gotten to know their habits, who eats what, what birds will go to the feeder and what birds stay on the ground and...what looks different or out of place. I have learned so much and I have truly enjoyed it.

    Thank you, Claire. It was you who brought Project Feeder Watch to our attention last year. It's a fun winter project.

    sooey

  • terrene
    16 years ago

    That's exciting to see the Brown Creeper on your suet cage Sooey. I like how you've put up your cage, it looks "raccoon Proof". I just hung mine on a hook, don't think it's raccoon proof.

    The Downy woodpeckers really like the raw suet - they eat there frequently and a little more than the Suet log now. Each bird has its preference I guess. The Bluebirds eat only the peanut butter Suet. The Goldfinches only eat BOSS. The Chickadees eat everything, the raw suet, the suet mixture on the Suet log, and lots of BOSS.

    Funny thing I've noticed since feeding the birds, the Goldfinches usually show up with the Bluebirds. If I see one, I figure the other is not far away. They seem to like to hang out together.

    A couple photos from the other day, the little flock of Bluebirds and Goldfinches showed up:

    {{gwi:1056924}}

    {{gwi:1056925}}

  • prairiemoon2 z6b MA
    16 years ago

    That color on that bluebird is AMAZING!! Thanks for sharing it! I was wondering if it might be nice to also start thinking about starting a Feeder Watch Part 2 soon?

    pm2

  • claireplymouth z6b coastal MA
    Original Author
    16 years ago

    Thanks sooey, watching the birds makes looking out the windows in winter something to look forward to, rather than a depressing scene of dead/dormant plants.

    It amazes me that the birds in different yards have different tastes. Or maybe my suet is not as tasty as yours. But here most of the birds prefer the Nut N' Berry mix (with cracked corn and thistle seed) or thistle seed alone.
    The downies prefer the suet mix, the red-belly doesn't touch the suet, but is here every day for the seed/nut mix. Nuthatches, blue jays, wrens, titmice, chickadees will regularly nibble on the suet but it doesn't seem to be preferred. Maybe the difference is the nuts in the seed mix.

    Not having any bluebirds to hang around with, the goldfinches here are often seen with the house finches. They eat the seed mix in the tube feeder and the thistle seed in the sock. I''m seeing about a dozen goldfinches at a time, and much fewer house finches.

    Claire

  • sooey
    16 years ago

    Hi, terrene. Oh, I love your Bluebirds. I miss them. You are right, the Blues like the suet mixture with peanut butter and that's just about the only suet they will go to. I always found they like three things, in this order...live mealworms, peanut butter suet, dried mealworms, jam. They would always eat as many mealworms as I would put out for them. It always took them a while to warm up to the peanut butter suet but while they were at the suet, they would take some jam. If I had been feeding live mealworms I could sneek in some dried worms and they would eat them. If I just offered dried worms without first attracting them wth the live worms, the dried worms would just sit there. It's the motion of the live worms that attracts them.

    So, keep posting those pictures. They are a very sweet little bird.

    sooey

  • claireplymouth z6b coastal MA
    Original Author
    16 years ago

    pm2: You posted while I was uploading my photo and preparing my post.

    This thread is getting a bit long - maybe sooey or terrene would like to start a new one?

    Claire

  • sooey
    16 years ago

    I agree, this thread is getting long. Not so much in the number of responses, more the number of pictures. I'll start a new thread but first...

    Claire, I have noticed that my House Finch numbers are also way down. I had one day last week that I did not see a single HF. That is very strange. My Goldfinch numbers have also been down but not as much as the HF.

    I think part of the suet issue in my yard could be the feeders. The birds love the one that is attached directly to the tree. I could put anything in it and the birds would love it. I think they like it because it is easy for them to get to. They can hold on to the feeder or the tree. The larger birds like, Red-bellied, Flicker, Harry can all get a good grip and, it does not move. The other suet feeder that I have is smaller, cage style, the size of a single cake of mixed suet and is free hanging from a chain. I see smaller birds like Red Breasted Nuthatch and Chickadees at it but nothing larger.

    OK...now I'll start a new thread...

    sooey