Birdfeeder watching

Our back deck is just outside our kitchen window.  We have a table on the deck, but it has gone to the birds, so to speak.  On the table we have potted plants and a bird feeder and water dish.  Of course, this time of year the plants only serve to provide perches for the birds as most of them have died back for the winter.  But the birds are very active this time of year. 

We are currently feeding American goldfinches, cardinals, white-throated sparrows, titmice, chickadees, blue-jays, mockingbirds, house-finches, wrens, and a downy woodpecker.

The goldfinches are not the bright yellow color that I remember enjoying as a child in Indiana.  In the wintertime their feathers change to a dull brownish yellow, so that I almost didn’t recognize them.  My bird guide helped me to confirm that these birds were indeed the goldfinches and their plumage was for the non-breeding goldfinches.

I’ve enjoyed watching the birds through the seasons.  We feed more black sunflower seeds than anything else, but we do keep several suet baskets filled as well.  The first time we put out a suet basket I used a berry suet that was supposed to attract orioles.  I saw what had to have been an oriole feeding on it within a day or two.  At first I thought it was a robin because of all the red coloring, but then as I watched it I realized that this bird had more red than a robin and that the black seemed blacker.  But sadly that was the only time I saw the oriole.  It never came back.

Early last spring we had a number of house finches at our feeder.  I noticed one that had a serious problem with one of its eyes as it protruded abnormally from the birds head.  The bird almost lived in the feeder and only left when the other birds chased it away.  I took a picture of it with my digital camera to get a better look at it, and then realized that its beak was also malformed.  No wonder it stayed in the feeder, I’m sure it had to struggle to get the sunflower seeds out of the hulls.  One day a storm was coming up as I was leaving for work and I knew the rain would fill the dish we were using as a feeder.  I worried that our poor bird wouldn’t survive the storm, and apparently it didn’t as we never saw it again.

Malformed house finch

Another time I was working in the kitchen when I heard something hit the window hard.  I looked out the window and found a woodpecker lying on the deck.  I suspected that it had only knocked itself out and that after it came to, it would fly away, so I ran to get my camera.  I tried to get it to perch on my finger but it didn’t catch on too well.  Maybe it was the way woodpeckers use their feet, but I was finally able to get it to perch on my fingertips like they were a stump.  I eventually urged it to sit on one of the posts in the railing of our deck and took several more pictures before it gained its senses and flew away.  I then went to my bird guide and learned that my woodpecker was really a male yellow bellied sapsucker.  I never saw the bird again.

Sapsucker 1


The birds are very entertaining to watch.  When they are feeding their young they get aggressive and it is like a king of the mountain game as they commandeer the bird feeder until they are satisfied or until they get sent on their way by a more aggressive bird.  Bird seed seems pretty cheap compared to the amount of enjoyment we get from watching our birds out the window.

2 Responses

  1. I love to listen to the nightingales — especially their loud whistling crescendo. Once, we found an injured bird laying on our lawn. We tried our best to help heal the poor bird, but he or she ended up dying. It was quite sad.

  2. I have seen it happen both ways. My first experience was with a bird that flew into my classroom window when I was teaching second grade. I thought the bird might be dead, but brought it into the classroom for the children to look at. I kept it in a box in the room. A little later the bird chirped. I picked it up on my finger, carried it outside and it flew away.

    Once I was working at an elementary school and a bird had flown into a hallway with windows on both sides. The bird had flown into the windows so many times as it tried to escape that it was dazed. I caught it by trapping it behind a notebook and carried it outdoors. A class was coming into the building at the same time and the bird didn’t seem to be in a hurry to fly away, so I put it on my finger and held it out for them to see. Several reached up and pet the bird. I finally gave my finger a little flick and the bird flew off into the distance.

    Another time I hit a cardinal with my car. I wasn’t moving all that fast so I hoped it would survive like the others. I got out and moved it away from the road. Several times during the next couple of hours I drove back to where it was hoping it would be gone and could assume it had revived and flown away. But it was obviously not going to recover. The thing that made it even sadder was that when I first hit the bird it was flying around with another cardinal in a pre-mating behavior. The other bird was also watching to see if the wounded bird would fly again.

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