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The Robins are back. Today is the first time I’ve seen flocks of them in my orchard this year. They are late, normally I see them in mid January and speculate how they will find food during the winter as they are not seed eating birds loving worms and bugs.
Inside the house, over the top of my computer I can watch a busy world of all kinds of birds who flock to the bounty provided to supplement that which nature is rapidly putting beyond their beaks.
I have four feeders in the front yard by the hay fields and one outside my office window. They are exposed to the wind and elements, but ground feeding birds flock to them as small seeds fall to the ground. I cast a few handfuls around for their consumption.
The stout feeder poles sit beyond the flowerbeds. They have hooks for two feeders. A cylinder baffle defeats the best efforts of squirrels and are a constant source of food for the birds.
Squirrels have never been a problem because of two large hickory trees near the barn. This year I’ve seen very few because the late spring freeze last year killed the nut crop for the year.
While I’ve been sitting here pounding the keyboard I’ve seen Goldfinches, Nuthatches, the House Finch, the snow breasted Junco, Black-capped & Carolina Chickadees, Cardinals, Chipping Sparrows, Mourning Doves, Red-Bellied Woodpecker, Red-winged Blackbirds, Tufted Titmouse, White Throated Sparrow, Downy Woodpecker, Eastern Phoebe, Ladderback Woodpecker, Field Sparrow, a lone Starling, and a Rufus-sided Towhee. Several of the above are not normal seed eating birds, but times of necessity makes seekers of them all. I just saw a Blue Jay, which is seldom seen a myt backyard feeders unless I put out a special of peanuts. Then the jays can empty it within a few hours.
As the congregation thickens I can’t help but wonder if birds have a telegraph service, that sends out a message, “Hey food is over here.” The way they cavort around jockeying for position it is also questionable whether anyone is getting much to eat.
I do not want the birds to become dependent on me as their major source of food, but am willing to lend a helping hand when nature cannot supply their needs. I start filling the feeders about the end of November when I notice the natural food supply in overgrown fence rows has been exhausted. Then keep them full until late April when nature amends their food supply.
The practice of having feeders has greatly expanded the original range of the Cardinal (KY state bird) as it was originally a tenant of bushes in southern climates. Today feeding the birds has enlarged his range across much of the Eastern United States. His flashy presence in our yards is a welcome change from the drab winter colors of so many of our native feathered friends.
I hope you’ve enjoyed watching the birds with me, knowing that late or early spring is coming. The sun peaked out just long enough for the groundhog to see his shadow so we know we will have six more weeks of winter until the Ides of March.