Our eyes and ears should be open and alert to the natural wonders that surround us every day. Take time to look out our windows to see the birds that visit us and open our windows to hear them. Walk around whatever space we have to enjoy the birds in nature. Every day, work on improving our powers of observation.
Nature happens. We cannot MAKE natural things happen (or NOT happen). We can create habitats to encourage natural things to happen around us, but there are no guarantees.
Birdfeeding comes with responsibilities to the birds and the environment we share with them. If you are unwilling to accept these responsibilities, you shouldn’t feed the birds. We also have a responsibility to share these natural wonders with the next generation.
Just six days ago, I was noting that the tufties were missing from my feeders. That changed less than 24 hours later when a big, busy family of Tufted Titmice descended on my feeders last Thursday.
The fledglings are NOISY! All the typical baby behavior - wing flutter, clumsy landings, and incessant zheee-zheee-zheee begging call. When Don and Lillian Stokes said "This is a very conspicuous time in the birds' life cycle", they weren't kidding! (Stokes Guide to Bird Behavior Volume II).
Both mom and dad help raise the young. Around here, they've been feeding them live mealworms we've put out for them. To the feeder - to baby - to feeder - to baby - and so on. I've been adding 20 or so mealworms to the APS® Side Dish multiple times each day. They've also been hitting the peanut feeder and peanut suet hard.
I've seen 6 or so young around. I think the differences between the adult and young are quite subtle. The forehead patch of the young titmouse is more grey than black; though the young I've seen look mostly black. I think the forehead patch is somewhat smaller than on the adult.
Adults have light rufous sides; the sides of the young are mostly white. Young titmice may appear duller overall and the crest may be less developed.
The fledglings may continue to get food from parents for four weeks or more and will remain with their parents through winter. The family bond is strong. Young will stay with their parents, and have been known to help them raise young the next season.
We in upstate New York are beneficiaries of the expanding range of the Tufted Titmice. Eaton's "Birds of New York" published in 1914 stated, "This species inhabits the warmer portions of the eastern United States from Nebraska, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey to Texas and the gulf coast, occasionally straggling to Wisconsin, Michigan and Connecticut. In New York it is confined to the warmer portions of the Carolinian district as a breeding species...I have found no records of its breeding in the interior of the state." (emphasis added)
Aren't we lucky that the range of the Tufted Titmouse has and continues to expand northward?
The hummingbird feeders are really busy, with nectar levels down every day, but wait! There's something DIFFERENT about the activity.
When I stop and take note of WHICH hummingbirds are at the feeders, I realize there is something missing! There are few - if any - adult males anymore! All the activity at the feeders (and there's a lot of it) are females and immature males and females. Immature hummingbird at Holland Hill feeder
The males are the first to arrive in the spring, and come late summer they are the first to leave for the long trip to their wintering grounds in Mexico and Central America. If you see adult males now, they may be migrating hummingbirds versus your local summer residents. Adult male on WBU purple hummingbird feeder
This male "owned" this feeder on one side of the house. He is no longer here "guarding" this feeder.
Even then, I left a couple hummingbird feeders out for another 2-3 weeks to help any stragglers. Leaving a feeder or two out will NOT cause hummingbirds to stay longer than they should; in fact, it may help late migrating birds on their journey. It is important to keep the nectar fresh even if it not being eaten. Same old routine as during the summer - change it out every 4-5 days. Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Are you still seeing adult male hummingbirds? When did you see the last adult male (I haven't seen one since August 20th)? Are you seeing the same changes I am?
Enjoy your final month of feeding the hummingbirds!
Wednesday morning breakfast was taken out on the deck, where we enjoyed a cup of Starbucks Verona Blend coffee, warm cinnamon babka, and the birds.
It was a beautiful morning, in the low 60s following an overnight low of 44 degrees. Bright sunshine, a beautiful blue sky with just a few wispy clouds. And the bird activity was great! The camera was a low priority, but I'll share all we saw.
Mourning Doves were around in large numbers. Can you believe it's late August and they're still mating?? Right up there on the wires!
The Blue Jay gang consists of upwards of two dozen birds. They hung around in the trees, avoiding the feeders since we were a little too close for comfort. A number of them are still bald, but it looks like feathers are growing back on most of them.
A Rose-breasted Grosbeak family visited - mom, dad, and junior. The youngster looks like a new fledgling: still hanging with mom and dad, awkward starts and landings, and that dazed look.
Three hummingbirds streak by multiple times. We didn't see any males this morning - they depart first (though we did see one later in the day). Watched a hummingbird stalk a chickadee, hovering near it in a tree, following it to a feeder, then back to the tree, then back to the feeder before taking off. So bold and aggressive for a teeny tiny bird!
Lots of chickadees, Chipping Sparrows, and juncos including many young. A junco preened in a nearby tree for quite a while.
We spotted two Baltimore Orioles (mom and young), first in the maple tree-top (oriole-land) and then into the Mountain Ash which is full of bright orange berries.
Hairy Woodpeckers announce their arrival with a loud "peek" call, but they're reluctant to use the suet log that hangs only 10 feet from our Adirondack chairs.
Goldfinches and 3 female Purple Finches rounded out the yard bird offering, but we also saw a Broad-winged Hawk soaring overhead, riding the thermals and calling its shrill whistle.
What a great morning! With the weekend coming up, why don't you think about taking some time to brew yourself up a pot of coffee, and eat your breakfast outside with the birds!
Cinnamon Babka available at Putnam Marketon Broadway in Saratoga Springs. You gotta try it some time!
One day in mid-July, I just sat against the west side of the house, camera in hand, to take photos of birds that frequent that area. It is in deep shade most of the day, with sunbeams poking through only around noon and as the sun sets in the west. It is mostly a coniferous mix of hemlocks and pines. With such deep shade, I had to use the flash on most of these images.
The resident birds that prefer this side of the house are Purple Finches as well as chickadees, juncos, and nuthatches (red- and white-breasted). Two feeders are filled with safflower seed (which the Purple Finches devour) and the Eliminator squirrel-proof feeder is filled with WBU Choice Blend (nuthatches love the peanuts in the Choice Blend.)
During migration, it is where I will find Ovenbirds, Fox Sparrows, thrushes, as well as White-throated and White-crowned Sparrows. These birds prefer the thick undergrowth this area provides. When they are here, I broadcast WBU Deluxe Blend, which includes the millet and black-oil sunflower these ground-feeders will enjoy.
Here's a photo gallery of a cooperative female Purple Finch, a young Dark-eyed Junco, and a Red-breasted Nuthatch with young.
It is interesting to stop and take note on which birds prefer different areas in our yards depending on the habitat, such as type of trees, shrubs, cover, water, etc.
Do you have birds that prefer a certain habitat in your yard? Use the Comment section to tell us about that area and which birds prefer it.
The days are noticeably shorter (we've already lost 1/2 hour of daylight!) and the activity in the yard is changing as well.
The bees have been busy on the Purple Coneflowers as have the butterflies, including Monarchs and Tiger Swallowtails.
All of a sudden, young Black-capped Chickadees, Chipping Sparrows, and Purple Finches are showing up in groups of fives and sixes.
Warblers are starting to migrate, with those "confusing fall warblers" (as they are so aptly described in the Peterson Guide) showing up daily in our yard. Click on image to enlarge and if you can help me identify this warbler, please do! ADDENDUM: Thanks to the members of the HMBirds listserv for identifying this warbler as an immature Common Yellowthroat which is a new bird to my yard.
I have TONS of Blue Jays, and as they start to molt, some of them are losing all their head feathers at one time. This happened last year as well (read my More Bald Blue Jays post) when even MORE jays showed up bald and beautiful!
This photo really shows this jay's ear opening, which is usually covered by feathers.
Blue Flax are still blooming in the yard, even though they are typically a June bloomer.
Hummingbird visits are frequent and frantic! I'll see 4-5 hummers at a time visiting my 5 different feeders. One male is trying to guard the feeders on the east side by just sitting on a feeder - not even sitting at a porthole to feed, but just sitting there!
The Holland Hill window hummingbird tube feeder is being emptied in less than a day. It seems the females and young use it more than the adult males.
What changes are you seeing in your yard as summer comes to a close?
I have five hummingbird feeders out, hanging on three different sides of the house. From an inside vantage point, I have been regularly seeing four to five hummingbirds at these feeders at one time (one per feeder, or one at a feeder and another hummer mobbing it). Male hummingbird at WBU Purple Decorative Feeder
According to studies by noted hummingbird specialists, to estimate how many hummingbirds are visiting your feeders, multiply the number of hummingbirds you see at one time at your feeders and multiply that by six. Read more at the WBU-Saratoga Springs website.
Use the Comment feature to let us know how many hummingbirds you see at one time at your feeder. Be sure to tell us your city and state. I look forward to hearing from you. Hummingbird at Holland Hill Window Tube Feeder (available at WBU-Saratoga Springs)