Another sign of Spring is an increase in bathing
While there are some birds, like Bluebirds, which will take a bath any time the water is not ice, Spring usually brings with it an increase in the number of birds bathing in our birdbaths. Of our two birdbaths, this concrete bath is far more popular than our larger green plastic bath. We think that it is because the other bath has steeper edges. The more gradual concrete slope may feel safer for smaller birds (like the out of focus chipping sparrow) worried about getting in too deep.
And no, despite appearances, the Cardinal is not trying to drown itself. Though sometimes the bather has a great deal of difficulty taking off.And here is the greatest threat to the water in our birdbaths, the Brown Splasher (Brown Thrasher).
Goldfinches leave our area just as they get their yellow back
Goldfinches (well the males) are bright yellow during the summer, but are fairly plain during the winter. Where we live they tend to leave about the same time as their summer color comes in. Sadly, we are just south of their summer nesting range.
We look forward to their return every spring
The lighting is not the best in this picture as it was fairly late in the evening. We had put the feeder out about a week before. We kept on checking until suddenly he was there on the feeder. This hummingbird (along with a 2nd one we saw the next day) are probably on their way further north.
There is something in there that they like
A couple of years ago we started hanging a Pennington Seed block on a pole outside one of our windows. It seems like every bird in the area, including a number of surprising suspects has come by to try it out. Above is a Northern Mockingbird. At first it was only one, but the first one convinced its opposite number that there was something good here, and since that time I have frequently seen pairs of Mockingbirds visiting the seed block.
Here we have a Tufted Titmouse and a Red-headed woodpecker on the seed block at the same time. Once it is eaten down, we move what is left to one of the tray feeders, and it typically doesn’t take very long for them to find it and finish it off. The recent snows had an interesting side effect. Normally, the local chipping sparrows prefer to eat from the ground or trays. They will also use standard perches. They would come over and land on top of the seed block’s cage and try to reach the top of the seed block. However, when the snow covered everything else, they discovered it was possible to hang on to the side of the cage and get at the only visible seed (everything else was under snow). Since that time, several sparrows have remembered this, and they have continued to cling to the cage to eat. This has led to a second variety of jailbird.I am sorry about the lower quality. I didn’t want to scare it off, and the sparrows seem to be a bit “nervous” about eating here. Don’t worry, it had no trouble getting back out again without help.
The determined bird gets the seed
This is a frequent sight when it isn’t trying to nest in our garage.
Cedar Waxwings, strip your bushes of berries, drink your birdbaths dry
We typically see large flocks of Cedar Waxwings this time of year. They work as a group, when they don’t accidentally land on each other. Also visible in this picture is an American Robin.
The birds really are not happy this year.Usually, we average about 1 chance of snow each winter. This makes a second, measurable snowfall very unusual. The juncos, like the male above, come only for the winter, spending their summers in Canada. In our part of middle Alabama, we get a number of birds that turn up only in winter. This year their southern vacations have been a bit frosty. We made certain the bird feeders were full and seed was scattered on the ground so at least they were not hungry.This snowfall was even more uncommon. The snow stuck to the roads (yes, there is a street in the picture); not a very good thing when the heaviest road-clearing equipment is usually a sand truck. We had several days of frigid weather with temperatures in the teens. It was cold for the birds, and for the people too. We had to take precautions such as leaving cabinet doors open to make sure our pipes did not freeze. If it is very cold, we may leave a faucet dripping.
Birds Don’t Like Hard Water
Our local birds will not be getting one of the things they wished for. They prefer their water to look like this. Unfortunately for them, this is what the forecast has in store for them over the next week. They expect us to fix it. The entails taking some hot water out to melt the ice, or at least loosen it enough to dump out. Then some more tepid water to make sure it isn’t too hot when they come rushing back. If this doesn’t happen soon enough, some of them (frequently cardinals) will start looking in the kitchen window.
Our local birds look a bit worried, or at least hungry
This is a problem that the birds that visit our birdfeeders do not usually have to worry about. Seeing snowflakes is rare enough in this part of the country. A couple of days ago we were treated with enough snow to leave a couple of inches on the ground, and quite a few upset birds. As it stands today, the last few sheltered patches of snow in the shade are losing their fight and are melting away.
Permanent residents, seen in larger groups during cooler months