Juncos do not normally have eyebrows, but I have one that is just adorable. I call him Gandalf.
7 feeders have been a new adventure for us. With over 100 birds visiting, it can get a bit crazy at times, especially when 50 of those are House Sparrows, but we have found a way to live with them.
House Sparrows can overwhelm a feeding station and wipe out the food in no time, leaving nothing for the song birds. Early on in the season I realized that I could either fight a frustrating battle with the sparrows, or figure out a way to get along.
The following has seen great results:
- We changed a deck feeder to safflower seed, which is not their favorite, removing all millet and nuts. Although they will still visit, as seen above, they tend to not stay long, nor do they storm it in one of their “blights” or “humiliations”. However, the doves, cardinals, chickadees, house finches and even the nut hatch seem to really prefer the safflower.
- I put the yummy nut mix into a hanging platform feeder. For some odd reason, sparrows do not like to fly through things such as wires. The squirrel, on the other hand, loves it, but that is another story.
- Lastly, we put a feeding station at least 30 feet away from the song bird stations and use the cheapest feed you can find (the $8 for 35# kind of feed from TSC.) This contains millet and other seeds they prefer and they will flock to it. During the snow, we provide a scoop 2x a day and that seems to keep them busy. I always know when they think they are out – that is when I see them coming to the feeders on the deck looking for handouts.
While the woods, which is further away, attracts the sparrows. The Juncos, Mourning Doves, and Song Sparrows, as well as the Cardinals, also like the feed that is kicked out onto the ground by the messy sparrows. (Sometimes there is an almost creepy sensation of the ground being alive because of all the movement.) I have counted 60+ birds down there at one time when a “raid” is going on. However, it appears that the seed is not being wasted.
A lovely side affect is that, like living Christmas tree ornaments, the tree above the cheap feeder tends to fill up with all the beautiful birds as they wait their turn at the various feeders.
And while the lesson I am learning is to give the “pests” something to occupy them, I still have not figured out how to keep the squirrel out of my nut feeder. They are getting quite hilariously fat on it.
Birding is a fairly new adventure encouraged by a friend with a new camera and love of birds. So we are spending this year trying to shoot birds – in digital.
Yellow Warbler at Eagle Creek, Indianapolis
I am learning it is much harder than butterflies, funny enough. Mostly because they like to hide behind leaves and branches as they look you over (and scold). However, the thrill of seeing and identifying a new specie (new to me) gets in the blood.
One day I hope to be able to produce stunning photos, but half the fun is the learning and the sharing of the experience. The other half is in capturing that moment when I am eye to eye with nature, even if it is comes out fuzzy or not perfectly lit.