Friday, March 27, 2009

Backyard Bonanza

Today was quite the day for visitors to the backyard, despite the fact that I refused to refill the six now empty feeders only one day after they were all bursting with seed. (For small birds, pine siskins are absolutely voracious.) Nonetheless, the bright but chilly day, the spilled seed on the ground, the dregs in the mesh nyger sock, and the heated birdbath attracted quite the menagerie:

  • Cedar Waxwings
  • Pine Siskins
  • Lesser Goldfinches
  • American Goldfinches
  • American Robins
  • Mourning Doves
  • Eurasian Collared Doves
  • House Finches
  • Cassin's Finches
Despite the fact that the ducks did not come calling today, I don't believe I've had a birdier day in the backyard. And there are amazing observations that accompany such a flock...
  • You never know when, nor for how long, a unique visitor will appear. I happened to be working at the dining table this morning, and while doing so I'd moved my chair to easily see the feeders and watch the fun. I was astonished to notice a small flock of cedar waxwings alight in the trees bordering our northern fence, and even more astonished when they came into the yard to visit the birdbath. They were only there for a few minutes, and if I'd been working in my office on the other side of the house I'd have been none the wiser.

  • Water is an irresistible attractor. Every one of the bird species that visited today stopped for a sip from the concrete birdbath, but the cedar waxwings and American robins weren't the least bit interested in the available seed. If you truly want to attract the widest variety of species to your yard, you definitely need to have water available. And this was just from a still birdbath (and one that was none too clean at the time) - I can hardly wait to see what happens in a couple of weeks when the new fountain is installed.

  • The smaller the bird, the bigger the attitude. The pine siskins are some of the smallest to visit my feeding areas, yet they are the most vicious and temperamental of the entire mixed flock. They will snap at other birds, including other siskins, as well as beat them with their wings and engage in spectacular aerial dogfights (birdfights?) complete with an unrelenting barrage of buzzes, chirps, and chatters. The result? A momentary monopoly on the feeder - almost invariably the nyger sock - until another siskin decides to take on the challenge for feeder dominance.

The most important thing to learn from so many visitors, however, is that there is always something new to observe and you can always care for every bird. Every day I'm amazed at the birds that will make eye contact with me, chirp at me, and even buzz me while I'm refilling the feeders or scrubbing the birdbath. While some may think they're simply being territorial and reacting to a perceived menace, I believe they do recognize me and our fondness is - at least at times - mutual.

That, or I simply need to refill the birdfeeders more often. Happy birding!

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