Here’s a list of the birds that have dropped from the sky to the feeding station in my South Medford backyard over the past ten years, including those that drink or bathe, pick berries from shrubs or forage under bark. I feed nyjer (“thistle”), shelled sunflower chips, whole shelled sunflower seeds, black-oil sunflower seeds in the shell, raw peanuts in and out of the shell and hand-raised meal worms. Sometimes I put out suet products–but they’ll be gobbled by starlings, just as the meal worms are hogged by the jays. How delightful it is to see a little bird–thrush, nuthatch, chickadee or titmouse–bag one when the jays are away. It’s rewarding, too, to hear the twitter of sixty little goldfinches, to observe the flicker at close range (the feeders are right outside the kitchen window), and to see ground feeders (like the thrush) fly up to the platform to feed.
My Birds–50 Species
Acorn Woodpecker Mourning Dove
American Goldfinch Northern Flicker
American Robin Oak Titmouse
Anna’s Hummingbird Orange-Crowned Warbler
Band-Tailed Pigeon Pine Siskin
Black-Capped Chickadee Purple Finch
Black-Headed Grosbeak Red-Breasted Nuthatch
Black-Throated Gray Warbler Red-Breasted Sapsucker
Brown Creeper Rose-Breasted Grosbeak
Bullock’s Oriole Ruby-Crowned Kinglet
Bushtit Rufous Hummingbird
Cedar Waxwing Song Sparrow
Chestnut-Backed Chickadee Spotted Towhee
Dark-Eyed Junco Stellar Jay
Downy Woodpecker Varied Thrush
European Starling Vaux’s Swift
Evening Grosbeak Western Scrub Jay
Gold-Crowned Sparrow Western Tanager
Hairy Woodpecker White-Breasted Nuthatch
Hermit Thrush White-Crowned Sparrow
House Finch Wilson’s Warbler
House Sparrow Winter Wren
Lesser Goldfinch Yellow-Rumped Warbler
MacGilivrays’ Warbler Yellow Warbler
Mountain Chickadee Western Bluebird
July 2011. Starlings! The treetop din of buzzing, cheeping, hissing; hurtling black bodies–they’ve exploded in our neighborhood this year! For the first time they are interested–more than “interested” in my feeding stations. Compete with the scrub jays for anything good (meal worms). When they can’t get there first, chased out by the parent jays and the half-grown young’uns, they follow close behind to unbury whatever the jays have hidden for later. It’s the oak trees. They love them. Hope the woodpeckers can protect their nesting places. …
Towards the end of the month, thank goodness, it quieted down. Nary a starling in sight, and the little birds and their birdlings are stuffing themselves with mealworms and sunflower seeds. The voracious scrub jays are even gone, replaced by a youngster or two that is less greedy and more polite. I’ve made a “hat” for my small-bird feeder; found that yesterday’s sun fried yesterday’s allotment of mealworms.
August 2011. We’re feeding a little terrorist. I have a feeling this scrub jay means trouble! It’s one of the new fledglings. Molting now and scrawny necked, often appearing with a flight feather hanging loose, this one is bold. Unlike the scrub jays I’ve fed here for years, he (?) keeps such a close watch on the back door that he’s at the feeder as soon as I get there. Not afraid of me, he helps himself to as many mealworms as I put out, one after another, without waiting for me to move a decent distance away. With me standing right there, he doesn’t take a few, stuff his beak with a few more and fly away–as do the elders that he chases away when they appear–but continues eating till the dish is empty.
September 2011. Wow! Fall’s coming quickly this year! Many dropping leaves. I put a pecan-nutty treat like a large pillar candle on the feeding tray–looks kind of like a large pillar candle. Someone’s been digging nuts out of it, though I haven’t caught them at it. Whenever I don’t see Black-headed Grosbeaks at the black-oil sunflower seed I think maybe they’ve flown away. But no, they’re still here–females anyway–as of Sept. 3.
Now it’s Sept.20 and the troops have arrived! Two dozen or more Lesser Goldfinches plus one male American were at the feeder today. For some reason they don’t seem to care for the leftover nyjer seed from this Spring. Will have to buy some fresh. The female Black-headed Grosbeaks are still here and the starlings are coming back, not waiting till Fall is official. I guess the calendar isn’t that authoritative, folks. Autumn’s here. (Someone tell the Grosbeaks.)
November, 2011. This is the year of American Goldfinches! Mobs of them–sixty at last count–with the spare Lesser Goldfinch sprinkled in here and there. In previous years it’s been the opposite. (No sight of a Pine Siskin yet. When this irruptive species arrives, the Grange Coop must be happy; there’s lots of trips to buy sacks of sunflower chips.)
December, 2011. Cold, cold, cold. Lots of hungry and thirsty birds. I set my alarm for 8:00 (way early!) and go out in my pj’s and bathrobe first thing to replace the frozen hummy feeder with the liquid one kept inside, use an icepick to hack away at the birdbath ice and fill the birdbath with hot water. (Cools down real fast in this 20 degree weather!) What’s new? BLUEBIRDS! Six-to-seven are visiting several times a day to drink. Don’t know that I’ve ever seen such thirsty birds. Irony: I’ve been raising mealworms for five years now in hopes of attracting some bluebirds. These seem unaware of my offerings; it’s open water they’re after. Another first-time drinker is the lowly starling. I spend a lot of time preventing them away from gobbling down all the suet, worms, everything there is. This is the only instance I’ve seen one at the birdbath. They scoop up a quick beak full of water to pour down their upraised throats. Splashy drinkers in contrast to all the quiet sippers.