A and I have fed the birds in our garden for as long as we can remember, we did it in England in Newport Pagnell, we did it in the apartments we had in America when we first moved here, and we do it year round at our house too. We only used to put out food during the very cold winter months, but we then read that the birds become so reliant on you for their major food source that you should continue year round. It’s also extremely important that they should have clean fresh water year round too, so we have two birdbaths, one of which has a heater in it in winter to keep it from freezing solid.
As to the feeders, we have a finch feeder which holds nothing but thistle seed, finches favourite food; a large, three compartment bird feeder for general birdseed and two fat block holders, although one has mysteriously disappeared this winter! Dragged away by some four legged critter no doubt, I imagine we’ll find it once we can get back out into the garden again. We also received a new feeder for Christmas, so we’ll have to work out where to put it and what seed to put in it.
On to our visitors, we have quite a collection of mostly frequent visitors. There’s the ubiquitous hose sparrows which I think must frequent every single garden the world over…..
Then there’s the chickadee’s, very, very sweet, small, black and white birds not unlike the British Coal Tit. The Chickadee’s are rather shy, flying to the feeder, taking one seed and flying back into the pine tree to eat it before coming back for another one! They make up for their shyness by the numbers in which thet visit us; and I love their call, sounds like a little tiny squeaky toy!
We also get Junco’s who are ground feeders only and clean up the fallen seed and crumbs from the fat block, we only ever see them in the winter, don’t know where they spend their summer but it ain’t at our house!
We’re also extremely lucky to have a resident Downy Woodpecker, occasionally we see two of them, not sure if they’re a pair as they look so alike. The woodpeckers are interested in one of two things, the bark of the big pine tree or the fat block, and they spend ages in our garden, hours at a time.
Next up is a nuthatch, beautiful colours, he also enjoys the big pines in the garden, running up and down the bark looking for insects, but he’s also not averse to the seed in the feeder, and his feeding habits are exactly like those of the Chickadees.
We also have a pair of Cardinal birds, the male is bright red and you’ll find his likeness on a lot of American Christmas cards in the same way the Robin graces the British cards. The male rarely feeds himself, instead he sits on the ground below the feeder and waits for his well trained wife to throw the seed down to him! She’ll often bring seed to him and feeds him like a baby, as can be observed in the above photo! Seriously!
We also get a number of visiting Blue Jays, they’re beautiful but incredibly raucous and noisy.
And finally, we also have a beautiful pair of Mourning Doves who nest in our garden every year. They’ve been here ever since we moved in (Feb 1999) and they’re not the least bit shy. When we’re out in the garden in summer, they sit for hours in the cool water of the bird bath watching us, they must find us incredibly fascinating! Often in the evening if we’re relaxing on the deck they’ll come and sit on the deck rail about 15ft away and coo at us, they’re really sweet and we often wonder what would happen if one of them didn’t make it through the winter as they rarely spend a moment apart.
That’s about it for our daily visitors! We get quite a number of different finches at the finch feeder, mainly green and house finches, haven’t seen a goldfinch yet, and we sometimes get flocks of starlings, but A sorted them out by cutting the perches down on the feeders! It was quite comical watching them trying to work out a way to get at the seed, in the end they gave up and left the little ones to it, but they often sit in the shelter trees around the garden squawking at the injustice of it all!
Just this last weekend A mentioned to me that he saw a bird he’d never seen before, he thought it looked like a large Wren. The next day it came back and I got to watch it for a while too. The closest I could get to it in any of our bird books was some kind or Warbler but I’m not sure. It was only there during the really cold days and Warblers are mainly insectivorous, but I would imagine that the cold weather might drive them to backyard bird feeders.
About the only think we’ve never done is make up our own fat blocks, I would imagine it’s pretty easy, must have a go sometime.
I found all these photos out on the net and they’re the copywrite of their respective owners.