The feature image is a flock of American Goldfinches at one of Frank’s new feeders that he built.
This post is in response to TERRI WEBSTER SCHRANDT Sunday Stills challenge. The theme this week is Feed the Birds. My favorite subject! If you are new to my blog, please check out my Bird Weekly Photo Challenge. Thank you Terri for giving more reasons to write about birds!
During the winter, we go through a lot of bird feed. We purchase our seed at our favorite Bird Store, Wild Birds Unlimited at Jacksonville Beach, Florida. We are annual members. The annual membership is $25 and we receive:
If there is a Wild Birds Unlimited near you, I would encourage you to shop there. The link will take you to the main website and you can click on the tab “Store Locator” to find out if there is a store in your area. They are mostly local franchise owners. You will be supporting a local business.
To cap off the worst year in World History, 2020, something good came out of all the bad milestones we lived or watched happen over 9 months. In our little world in Jacksonville, Florida, we have had more birds in our yard than any other years. Not just the number of birds, but the different species. We hosted an Eastern Phoebe (still here), counted at least 8 Eastern Bluebirds in our yard at one time and had a small flock of Purple Finches stay about 2 months visiting our feeders. At least 3 females and 2 males were spotted at one time. I sent my photos to the Duval Audubon ladies and they confirmed. I was pretty sure, but before I posted to Ebird.org, I wanted to be 100% sure.
In the past couple of months, we have had two new warblers in our yard and at the feeder. These two have never come to our feeders until this year. On the left is a Pine Warbler and on the right is a Yellow-rumped Warbler. Both are common to Florida, but a real treat for us to have them visit our yard and stay for a while. The Yellow-rumped Warbler (aka rumps) was a real bully. He bounced from feeder to feeder chasing all the other birds off. His mistake happened when he would chase off an American Goldfinch. The Goldfinch would come back with 15 friends shortly after. The rump couldn’t chase them all away.
Frank is building new bird feeders. A lot of experimenting with what the birds like. Serious research and development. Eventually, he will be selling these unique bird feeders. For now, we are gathering data. The American Goldfinches seem to love this feeder made out of cedar and driftwood. Unfortunately, they have migrated north. We haven’t seen them in a few days.
The Tufted Titmouse is no stranger to our yard. They nest in our backyard where there is plenty of cover, and they have easy access to a deluge of food in our feeders in the front yard. Our backyard is not great for human hangouts, but wonderful for the birds. The sacrifices we make to have the perfect home for our feathered friends, whether they are residents or just passing through for a day, a week or a month is off the charts.
Another common visitor in the winter and spring to our yard is the Carolina Chickadee. Because of our wooded backyard, the Carolina Chickadee, the Tufted Titmouse, Northern Cardinal and Carolina Wren will build their nests, raise their young (hopefully) and fledge in our yard. We give them plenty of food and have a fountain for them to have easy access to water. Frank built the fountain in the photo below. I would recommend getting a fountain because the birds love the running water much better than the still water in a bird bath. Plus the moving water has less chance of attracting breeding mosquitoes. The birds will drink from it and if it has a bowl, they will bath in it as well.
At the beginning of the pandemic, we had a pair of Carolina Wrens build a nest in one of our potted plants under our covered walkway that attaches the back of the house to the detached garage. This was a highlight to my days after losing my job to covid. We spent 30-45 minutes outside every evening watching the pair take mealworms out of the driftwood sculpture that Frank put up, eating some and flying towards us where the nest sat with three chicks. Back and forth, both parents taking turns to carry an endless supply of food to their babies. The mealworms were purchased at Wild Birds Unlimited.
All three chicks fledged and the parents taught them how to feed themselves and gather their courage to start flying until they were strong enough to move on. We have at least four Carolina Wrens already looking for nesting spots. Without banding, I have no idea if these are the same birds.
This Red-bellied Woodpecker thought he was being sneaky. He would take a peanut, fly to our palm tree and stash his nuts in the palm fronds. This went on and on, back and forth for a while. I decided to be sneaky myself. I walked outside from the backdoor, stealthily crept along the side of the house. Ducked behind some bushes and made my way to directly in the front yard. The woodpecker was not deterred, so I exposed myself (not like that) and sat on a rock in our front yard beside the feeders. My presence did not affect this woodpecker. He was on a mission. For over 20 minutes…to the feeders, grab a nut, look around, swoop to the palm tree. Just recently, a squirrel found the stash. All that work and….POOF! GONE!
We don’t feed the birds in the summertime. First, there is plenty of food around and the Swallow-tailed Kites and Mississippi Kites migrate here. We don’t want to offer up our birds on a silver platter…or in this case and wooden feeder. The Kites can find their own food and there is plenty of it with all the small birds nesting and breeding. While paired up, many of the birds in this post procreate several broods during the summer.
Last Summer, this Swallow-tailed Kite was just above me flying over my front yard where the feeders stand. The perfect example of why we don’t feed our small song birds in the summer. These expert flyers can turn on a dime and snatch a bird right off a feeders.