Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Flick and Flack

While I'm still adjusting to the new house and yard, it is always sheer joy to see a new bird species visit. Earlier this month I had a special visit from a pair of northern flickers (red-shafted as they are in the west), and these large woodpeckers spent quite some time foraging around a series of decaying stumps near the back fence. They would peck around the ground, cling to the sides of the stumps, and perch on top while looking for the next morsel.

At this point, I don't have many woodpecker-friendly features in the backyard, but soon enough the suet feeder will be out for them to enjoy. In the meantime, the flickers - now at least three - have visited several times and seem quite content to have a browse along and beneath our honey locust trees. Once or twice I've also spotted a downy woodpecker in the vicinity, and I hope he sticks around as well. I might only get a quick flick of a view, but the woodpeckers are always welcome.

Like woodpeckers? Learn these 15 Fun Facts About Woodpeckers!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Growing Up

Seeing as I haven't been in the new house for many months and the yard is not as bird-friendly as it could be as yet, I'm thoroughly enjoying the "easy" birds that visit. Some of the most treasured are the California quail; large coveys live in the neighborhood and may visit my platform feeding area several times a day.

In the past few weeks I've delighted in watching the chicks mature; from fluffy balls of down, now they're getting closer to their adult size and their markings are starting to be apparent. They know much better how to feed now and happily kick up seed and corn just like the adults, and they're quick to flee from any perceived danger. They still stick closely together as a brood, and it won't be until next spring that they'll seek out mates of their own. I'm taking great care to keep the feeders full so they will adopt my yard and deck as a reliable food source, and hopefully I'll have even more broods to enjoy next year. Of course, with as many as 15 or so quail crowding the feeders at once, I'd best stock up on cracked corn, black oil sunflower seed, and white proso millet to sate all their appetites!

The visits from the quail have made me rethink part of my landscaping plans, and I'm glad I haven't blundered too quickly into making changes. Many times, the brood has taken shelter under the deck itself - most notably one time when the neighborhood hawk was hunting in the yard. I had planned to block off the underside of the deck and make it inaccessible, but I've seen firsthand how even that type of artificial shelter can be beneficial for birds. I may still block it off to keep cats or other animals from taking up residence, but I'll be sure the birds always have that safe spot for a fast retreat. And when I need a retreat from the stresses of life, all I have to do is remember the joy my quail bring. May your birds bring you the same.