Sunday, December 6, 2009

The Birds are Back and so is the Work



For the last few weeks the birds had deserted our backyard feeders. I'd see a few sapsuckers and woodpeckers flying here and there but our feeders were being completely ignored. We were starting to worry that something was wrong with the feeders so my husband cleaned them up real good, we replaced the seed block and added some suet, and replaced the sunflower seed. Still nothing. Then we had the first of two hard freezes. Just before the first freeze hit (when we were awaiting the two or three snowflakes that fell!), the cardinals came back, possibly hoping to stock up just in case. And the very next day all the birds returned.



I hope you can see the big old sunflower seed in this little chickadee's beak. Interestingly, I was mentioning my worries about the birds to some friends at a party and they were experiencing the exact same phenomenon. The theory is that there was an abundance of berries and seed in the wild this fall. Well, I'm still glad to see them back.

As I was snapping photos I was thrilled to see a White-breasted Nuthatch start snatching some seeds.



I don't often see them at the feeders. I guess I was at the right place at the right time. As I turned away from the feeders I surveyed the freeze damage and all the upcoming cleanup work to come.



The basil plants and all the salvias are now history for this year. Although the temperature was in the 40's, the birdbath still had some lingering ice.



And unfortunately the poblano pepper plant had just made a dozen baby peppers. So much for the vegetables of summer!

22 comments:

  1. It must be the berries in the wild because we have experienced the same here the past week or so. My neighbor said the same as well.

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  2. Hi Jean, your poor plants! But at least you are supplying the hungry birds with plenty, a great variety of feeders there. I always think there is a scout that comes to the newly filled feeders then goes back to the group with word of fresh goodies. Great capture on the little chickadee, they are so quick and don't stay at the feeder to eat, flying off to a branch. We got some snow too, and a hard killing frost.

    Frances

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  3. Cool picture of the pepper. I pulled up my peppers, tomatoes and eggplant today - the garden looks so empty now!

    Love the bird pictures and that multi-arm feeder contraption.

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  4. I'm so jealous of your bird feeders and visitors. It's pointless for me to put up a feeder because, usually sooner rather than later, the squirrels pull it or knock it down and destroy it. Also, the next-door neighbors have had a bird feeder since before I moved here, so the birds are used to going there to fill up before coming into my garden to hang out in the conifers.

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  5. Our feeders are sometimes ignored, too. We think may it's the hawk that comes around, looking for an easy dinner.
    I do like your feeding stand.
    I have lots of clean up to do here, after our hard freeze. Guess I'll have to wait until spring to see if some things made it.

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  6. Hi Jean... It is sad to lose the garden but you have your birds back to cheer you on through the winter. I love the nuthatch! If I did not have bears i would feed the birds with feeders too but not worth the risk. I like seeing the cardinal and the chickadee together there. Great shots or your little feathered visitors. Carol

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  7. I hung out my feeder a couple of weeks ago and have yet to se a bird at it. No matter, I can tell they're still around.

    I love those nuthatches. I think the small birds are my favorites.

    Sorry about the peppers!

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  8. It's great that you've got so many birds at those feeders! Too bad about the peppers, though. A similar thing happened with my bell peppers earlier this fall. Why does the frost come just when they're putting out lots of fruit?

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  9. Jean, I was wondering the same thing because I had the same phenomenon here. I do believe they had plenty of berries and seeds to eat off the land. Mine are back today too. Happy birding.~~Dee

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  10. Thank you all for your comments. It's so interesting to hear others have experienced the same bird phenomenon. And I'm actually happy to have the hard freeze put the garden to bed - a little rest for the gardener once it's cleaned up!

    MMD - we have had to work on our feeders to squirrel proof them. They're finally there. We cut back tree limbs, from which they would jump, and put it just far enough away from the shrubs and trees. The bottom feeder serves as a deterrent for when they try to climb up from the bottom.

    Frances, re: your comment on your post about me being from Oklahoma. No, I'm not from there but having lived almost 50 years in Texas I know what yeeeehaaaaaw sounds and feels like. ;-)

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  11. We gave up on feeders because of the squirrels, too. And we kept having seed germinate in the beds below. Instead I'm now trying to create habitat where the birds will find food!

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  12. Jean, your freeze damaged garden looks very familiar ... after Friday's snow and hard freeze, my garden promises to be a different place next spring!

    Hey, where'd you get the birdfeeder pole? I've been looking for one.

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  13. Linda - I'm also trying to bring in some bird friendly shrubs. It'll take a while though.

    Cindy - I got the pole either from a local nursery or the Wild Bird Center in Monroe, LA. I'm sure you could find one at one of those bird stores as well.

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  14. Love the bird photos, Jean.

    My plants were looking pretty good until the bit of snow in our region a couple of days ago. Now they look like yours. I want summer back.

    Robin

    P.S.
    Your blog is added to my links. Thanks for letting me know you weren't there. You MUST be there!

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  15. I cleaned up and refilled all my feeders last week and kept waiting for the birds to find them, too. I think it must be that there was so much food available in the wild that they really didn't need the extra offerings yet. Finally, I saw the downy woodpecker come to the suet hanger, and now that the winds are howling here, I'm sure the bird feeders will get used.

    Too bad about your peppers! This has been a weird fall for weather--I've seen snow in southern states, but we haven't had any until today.

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  16. Jean, glad to see that you have birds back in your yard. Ours come and go as well. Now that the ground is more than frozen and snow covered, they are back in droves. Sorry to see that your garden is gone for the season - I so love looking at your pictures of still blooming flowers! Have a great holiday. Kathy

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  17. It's odd how the birds come and go from the feeders...it's as if there is some sort of communication system going on among them! They are here first thing in the morning and then later in the afternoon. I have a similar clear feeder~~So very sorry that the freeze mushed your garden. gail

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  18. My mom has had problems for years with not getting birds for random periods of time. I always have lots of birds (and other animals, including ducks who eat up anything that's fallen to the ground that other birds don't like, including red millet and even seed husks!). I live next to a nature area and my garden is much more diverse than hers, so maybe that's why. I gave my cedar feeder a good clean and was amazed as its original color came back. Discovered my bird de-icer is dead and must buy a new one.

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  19. Must be good to be a bird over at your place. There's a veritable buffet!!!

    Shame about the freeze and how the weather sometimes seems to stave off the inevitable. Straight to the compost heap it is.

    Love your photos by the way.

    I've added your blog to my bloglist on the sidebar (think that's what its called).

    I'll stay tuned!

    Rob

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  20. The Nuthatch is one of my favorite birds and this is a great photo of the one on your feeder. I like how they walk up and down the tree trunks.

    I'm already so hungry for the growing season that even your frost-damaged plants look good to me.

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  21. Great pictures of your birds. They do come and go, don't they? The birds here do the same. Sorry to see the effects of your cold weather, saw it on the weather news and wondered what had happened to your garden! We might have our first snow this week...

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  22. Great shots! I love the photo of the nuthatch. Beautiful bird.

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