Sunday, November 30, 2008

Back to the Backyard Birds

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Water. It’s the only sound I’ve heard in my backyard for two months.

Enough is enough.


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Off to Wild Birds Unlimited I went yesterday, Christmas caroling all the way, giddy as a schoolgirl in love. Bought a few new feeders and lots of food. Maybe I’ll order meal worms and cook some Zick Dough this week.


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Soaked and cleaned the old feeders that were piled on the garage floor for so long, collecting dust and dried leaves the wind blew in.

So happy to do it!

For those who don’t know me, I’ll explain. There was harmony here among the backyard birds for a long time until last spring when things went awry. Perhaps urban sprawl and its associated construction is the cause for movement and change, but there arrived flocks of non-native European Starlings and their children who squealed and screamed from sunrise to sunset for weeks. And pigeons. I had to consider my wallet and my sanity, as well as the sanity of the families who live near me. I stopped feeding for a month and considered allowing my police officer friend to take me to the firing range to become a BB gun expert.

The number of non-native House Sparrows grew over the summer months and to say they eventually had the upper hand is an understatement. Sadly, by the end of summer, the House Finches moved on as did all other native songbirds. HOSP coated the yard, along with pigeons and their poop, and I had just enough. After work one day, I threw my hands in the air, dumped the food from the feeders and removed them, feeling a combination of relief, sadness, and frustration. If there is research done on dysfunctional birds, call me.

Last week during subfreezing nights, I threw some seed in the feeding area and was delighted to see

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two Northern Cardinals. I had twelve pairs last winter.

Juncos, White-Throated Sparrows, and Song Sparrows stopped by...


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Aren’t Song Sparrows breathtakingly CUTE?

I’ve missed them all – Cardinals, woodpeckers, nuthatches, finches, Chickadees, Mourning Doves, and Titmice. I’d love to see the Coopers again.

The feeders are clean and full! Funny, while working on this project I forgot how about my miserable cold. I had pep in my step and smiled often.

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After I filled all nine feeders, the resident Mockingbirds nearly stroked out. I laughed out loud watching their territorial frenzy, scrapping with all other birds who bravely dared to snag a seed, nut, or grape.

But, I will say this. I fought the HOSP and the HOSP won.


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There are still a few trashing my neighbors’ attics. That’s OK. There’s a gizmo I can order on-line, you see.

This week will be interesting, I think :o)

44 comments:

A New England Life said...

Mary,
The song sparrows are adorable! We've been lucky when it comes to House Sparrows, they have been fairly sparse at our feeder, but my parents have so many it's disgusting! And they have ruined their back deck. Yet they still continue to feed them. Yuck!

Looks like your birds get the good stuff ; ) Enjoy the Cardinals. They are always a beautiful sight. And the return of the Junco's means winter is on it's way! Where do they go in the Summertime anyway?

Sharon

Kallen305 said...

Mary, I am so happy for you!! I too had a problem w/ the HOSP's so I stopped feeding for the summer except for a hummindbird feeder, Nyjer and a sattlite feeder that only small birds can access.

I started feeding again in mid October and the HOSP's are not nearly as bad as they were this summer. They mostly go on the ground and eat the spillage and then leave which is how I like it.

I am so looking forward to seeing your pictures. The sparrow in your photo is so cute!

Robin's Nesting Place said...

Mary, your pictures are fantastic! I just moved my feeders closer to the patio so I could watch the birds during the snow. Those starlings are a menace I sure hope they don't find their way back here this year.

It always makes me happier to feed the birds and watch them. Money is really tight right now and I feel guilty spending it on the birds, so I told my kids I wanted bird seed for Christmas!

Ramblings of a Villas Girl said...

Hi Mary! I am happy that your feeders came back out. I'm sure your feathery friends are too. They do bring much joy and smiles.

I do have a question. How did you get some of your pictures bigger? Remember you are talking to me. The computer idiot. So speak in stupid terms please.

I hope you are feeling better soon. It seems that you have had this cold for quite sometime now. Lisa

jason said...

I'm glad you're feeling better, Mary, especially because you were doing something you love to do--and have missed! And that even if it was a thrill that cloaked the agony. We take the good where we can get it.

Your photos are beautiful as always. The sparrow shots are adorable and stunning.

I'm so happy you've jumped back into the feeding routine. Hopefully the break has served you well by forcing some of the interlopers to move on. Still, I know you'll feel better doing it, and you'll certainly enjoy the thrill of seeing the old favorites return--like the cardinals.

Laurie and company said...

breathtaking.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Great pictures of your favorite birds Mary. If you figure out how to get rid of HOSP I would be delighted to find out how you do it. I wouldn't mind a half dozen or so HOSP here but there are at least 100. As you say they can be so territorial.

KGMom said...

I fought the HOSP. . .and the HOSP won. This can't be good news.

Carol said...

Happy to see you are back in the bird feeding business. It will make for some interesting posts, no doubt. I still wish I knew a lot more about birds! A flock of some kind of bird came calling earlier this afternoon, filling a tree, and I'm a little concerned they were starlings. But none stopped at my two full feeders. I hope they've moved on south... wait, that would be toward YOU! We don't want that!

Happy Birding!
Carol, May Dreams Gardens

Susan Gets Native said...

The HOSP are back and they're gonna be in trouble....

Yay, Mary! Feeders!

Mary C said...

That male northern cardinal is stunning! I guess you can tell I don't get to see those birds here in California. Happy birdfeeding, Mary!

Heather said...

I'm glad to hear (and see) that the feeders are back. It sounds like you've missed your birdies quite a bit. Glad to hear that rounding up the feeding gear made you forget about feeling bad! Now I just hope all the birds can behave themselves!

Julie Zickefoose said...

I know just how you feel. These birds become our friends, and you have been lonely too long. Good luck with the gizmo. I recommend cracked corn and white bread...Yayy Mary! Let the camera click!

NatureWoman said...

Can't wait to see more bewd photos now that your feeders are up again!! This week will be interesting at your home!

Mary said...

Sharon, those Juncos spend the summer just north of you!

Kallen, there's really no need to feed much in the summer anyway. I, too, concentrate on the hummers all summer. It's getting cold and I just couldn't wait any longer... I'm hoping for the best.

Robin, I already announced - no jewelry for Christmas - only gift cards for the birds! LOL!

Lisa, I can only speak to you in stupid terms because I'm a computer idiot, too. I'm uploading photos from my Flickr account in different sizes. My usual size is medium but I've been choosing large for a few photos lately. I think they are too large. I'm still investigating how to edit the html for the perfect "large". When I figure it all out, I'll post about it.

Jason, I do feel better. I'll enjoy the upcoming week to observe the bird during the short one hour I have after work. Today it rained non-stop...of course!

Lisa and Donna, I'll let you know what I do about the House Sparrows. I certainly don't want 100 more... Let's see how the winter goes.

Thanks, Laurie!

Carol, you can keep those Starlings :o)

Susan, YEP.

Mary in CA - hope to show you 20 Cardinals this winter!

Heather, the birds make my habitat complete. And, I did miss them - every day.

JZ - gizmo, cracked corn, white bread (or stale french fries?). Sounds alright :o)

Wendy said...

Nice to see your pics of the birds. They really are cute.
Can't wait to see more. Glad your cold is better - or at least you could forget about it for a while.

Corey said...

With that many feeders you're officially gonna be the "Crazy Bird Lady" in the neighborhood. That is, of course, if you weren't already!

Great shots of the Song Sparrows. I had one visit my yard today during the hardest of the downpours, along with 6 Field Sparrows and a dozen Butter-butts.

NCmountainwoman said...

I'm so glad for you, Mary. Lovely pictures of wonderful birds in your own back yard. Hooray!

beckie said...

Mary, so happy for you! I know how much you have been missing your birds. They bring such joy with their song and bright colors. A male cardinal against the snow is a breath taking sight! Now keep that camera at the ready, we are eagerly awaiting more of your wonderful photography!

Naturegirl said...

Mary you certainly covered all bases with these NEW feeders..I see one that is squirrel proof..let me know or post about how succesfull..I feed the squirrels too in a separate feeder and wish they would leave the bird feed alone! So much seed is dumped out and yes expensive and the snow covers it..now about the doves..well I welcome them because they eat up all the ground seeds..the Cooper..I keep shushing them away!

Tina said...

Love your enthusiasm...I love to go to the wild bird store..sorry to hear you had to stop feeding put everything away..that must have been difficult.. how I look forward to seeing what comes to the feeder each day. Glad to see some of your ole birdies have returned. Great close up pics. Love the little sparrow...so cute! Hope you are feeling better.

Toni said...

There's nothing like birds to put a spring in your step. We all will be waiting and watching right alongwith you.

Pete said...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/7755309.stm

and you think you have problems with starlings!!

nice photos

Kerri said...

OH I LOVE Song Sparrows!!Great shots!! I hope you get lots and lots of birds at your feeders!!

Jayne said...

Yay Mary!!!!!! New feeders and seed can bring a smile to anyone! So glad to see you back to entertaining your backyard guests. :c)

Dog_geek said...

Yay! I'm so glad you are getting your feeders out - partly because it is so clear how much you have been missing your birds, and partly because I selfishly want to see more of your wonderful bird pictures!

Peg Silloway said...

So glad you're feeling better, Mary. Nothing like a little retail therapy, especially when you have cardinal couples waiting for the results. Congratulations on getting your birds back, and thanks for those extraordinary photos.

Angie said...

Yippee!!! Our bird lady Mary is back! Oh, I wish I could have gone with you to Wild Birds Unlimited!!! We don't have one here---I've been using Duncraft's online. I'll have to check out Wild Birds Unlmted online. :) Your pictures are wonderful...and yes, those song sparrows are just adorable! :)

dguzman said...

Fight on, brave one! Hurray for you! HOSPs are like roaches, though--they would likely survive a nuclear blast. Those effers!

I'm SO pumped thinking about how many cool shots you'll have on the blog, now that the feeders are back up. I don't have much habitat to speak of at my new place, so every time I've put out any food or suet, I just get HOSPs and starlings. Sigh.

Cheryl said...

Hi Mary.....I won't mention starlings or sparrows!!

I am glad there is a spring in your step again and that your feeders are out to welcome your native birds.........I hope they keep you amused all through the winter months......have fun......

Q said...

Dear Mary,
Glad to see you are in business again. I bet the folks at Wild Bird love you!
Your sweet backyard darlings will keep you happy and warm all winter!
Sherry

Elaine said...

Ah, Mary, your bird wars are hilarious. Love your huge pics this time.
Have to say I laughed out loud when you complained about too much rain--I remember last year's dry summer and how every little drop was rationed there.
Glad you're feeling better all around.

RuthieJ said...

Oh Mare, your WBU store must just love you!
Good luck with all your new clean feeders and seed

Balisha said...

Wow!! An early Christmas for the birds. What a haul!

Kathleen said...

WooHoo! I can hear the birds passing the word, "The feeders are back! The buffet is open!"

I'm happy your drought is over. You must have had a grand time at Wild Birds Unlimited!

Larry said...

I'm glad you hve your birdies back.-It's good to take a break from feeding once in a while when you're being swarmed by some of the less desirable birds.Abscence makes the heart grow fonder.-Great photos!

Margaret said...

What a wonderful blog! I found you through another blog (Five Pines). I enjoy your photos, and of course your BT's! I'm also from Maryland, and still live there.

Steve B said...

Just found your blog. Love the song sparrows. I've been poking around for the last half hour. I'll be back!

Owlman said...

Welcome back Mary! When we moved into our house 5 years ago we didn't have a single HOSP. I noticed one over the summer at my feeder and I now have at least 6 that come for food - UGH! I think it may be time for a pellet gun to take care of them.....

Rose said...

I've had song sparrows here all summer; I agree they are the sweetest little birds. So glad Mary's Bird Buffet is open once again--no wonder you have a spring in your step now!

Rose said...

Oh I forgot to add--my daughter (don't ask) left her BB gun here when she moved away. If you'd like to borrow it, you're welcome:)

JeanMac said...

Your close-ups are wonderful. Glad you're feeding again.

Appalachian Lady said...

Mary--I gave your blog the Butterfly Award because I enjoy seeing your great photos and comments. Thanks, Joan

BJ said...

Oh Mary! I can just feel the joy in your writing! The pictures of your birdies are just gorgeous! Those are some lucky little birds! I do understand how you enjoy bringing them to your backyard!

So glad that you are feeling better. Amazing what a trip to the bird stores can do for someone, ugh???