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.
I don't do a whole lot to fancy up my yard, it's really a mish-mash of stuff I did years ago plus volunteers that have stepped in during my 9-year absence. (Everything in my life is categorized pre-store or post-store; my yard, gardens and greenhouse are a pre-store casualty). But I still enjoy a little walk around the yard now and then, especially on a beautiful spring day.
Candytuft in myrtle with a little wild strawberry and hardy geranium on the side.
Blue Flax - one of my favorites. Flowers bloom each day and are gone by the end of the day.
Winged visitor on the candytuft
Early in a Blue Lupine's bloom
My "lawn" is about 60% Creeping Thyme. My goal is eventually 100%. Great to walk on and smell the thyme!
I love the look and feel of the new growth on conifers like this Blue Spruce
New growth shoots on White Pines are called "candles"
This pine's new growth wears a cap until it grows to big to wear it
Red Admiral butterflies were plentiful in my yard today, enjoying the bright sunshine and spring blooms. They visited the plum tree and rhododendren bush that are just beginning to pop, but those flowers were far less popular than the nanking cherry (which is in full bloom but losing petals fast).
They put on quite a show, but what I enjoyed most was seeing Red Admirals sharing the flowers with the bees.
Temperatures were in the 80s just two days ago in Denver, but today we ended up at the Denver Botanic Garden after 2-3 inches of snow had fallen and the temps were in the mid-30s. It would've been easy to pass on a visit to a botanic garden in such conditions, but taking it in during a light snowfall was delightful.
We had a wonderful visit and hope you enjoy these images of our early spring visit to the Denver Botanic Garden.
As avid bird feeders, we'd like to think that with all we put out for the birds - all varieties of seeds and nuts and fruits and suets in all forms - the birds would always be at our feeders to fill their nutritional needs, 100% of the time, from dawn to dusk, 365 days of the year.
Well, that's not gonna happen! Even with the best of offerings at our birdfeeders, when natural food sources are plentiful, birds will spend much of their foraging those natural foods.
Most birds will prefer natural food sources when available
It's coming up to the middle of January here in upstate New York, there's no snow cover out there and the temperatures are above freezing just about every day. We had a warm summer and plenty of rain that produced an abundance of natural food supplies. Birds have been foraging at those natural food sources and, for the most part, away from the feeders since fall.
American Goldfinch picking seeds out of Hemlock cones
American Goldfinches, that seemed to disappear from the area right after Tropical Storm Irene passed through, are back in good numbers. They're feeding a little from the birdfeeders, but they're mostly taking advantage of natural food, like seeds from hemlock cones in back of our house.
I've had some Pine Siskins come through the yard with goldfinches a couple times in the past month, but they, too, are feeding in the trees and not visiting feeders.
Until these natural food supplies are either depleted or ice covered, I guess I'll have to accept slower than desired goldfinch activity at my feeders. And I may have to wait until next year for a winter finch invasion, maybe in the form of Common Redpolls instead of Pine Siskins.
I start my Project FeederWatch counting today under less-than-ideal circumstances: bird activity at my feeders has been slo-ow!
There's still an abundance of natural food sources out there that birds are feasting on - seeds, nuts, fruits, berries, bugs and insects. The temperatures have not been consistently cold enough to kill off insects and we don't have any snow cover to hide fallen seeds and nuts off the trees and shrubs. There's still berries on bittersweet and barberries, though the mountain ash berries were cleared off earlier in the fall.
I see birds around, but they're more likely foraging in the trees or on the ground than on my feeders. They've been active at the birdbaths too.
Nevertheless, I do have a list of birds I'm confident I'll be able to include in my two-day FeederWatch count. They are my "old faithful birds" - birds that are just about guaranteed to make a quick stop at a feeder sometime during the day, no matter how SLOW feeder activity has been.
Q: Should I let my garden go to seed? It looks messy after everything is done blooming and growing. I'm torn between having a tidy garden/yard and providing for my birds.
A: Depending on what plants you have in your garden, it's an excellent idea to "let things go" at the end of the growing season. Most bird gardeners try to include a mixture of seed-producing plants such as zinnias, sunflowers, coneflowers, and coreopsis that bloom all summer and provide food in fall and winter in the form of seeds. Native plants are best, of course, but non-invasive non-native plants can also be good for birds.
If you are worried about keeping things tidy, set aside a little-used or secluded corner of your property for the birds. You may be surprised to find that this is the birdiest spot in your yard in fall and winter.
Reprinted from the Summer 2005 edition of WBU BIRDTracks®