Not more than a week ago, our bird feeders were almost abandoned. We’d see doves (4 or so), chickadees (4 or so), 1-2 cardinals at dawn and dusk, and little else.
Temps were still moderate, the ground and trees were unencumbered by snow such that birds and other wildlife were harvesting their needs directly from nature. There wasn’t a whole lot of need to visit our bird feeders except for a quick ‘n easy snack on the way to their next destination.
In response, our feeder set-ups were correspondingly minimal - only about 1/3 of the feeders were in use, and those, only 1/3 to 1/2 filled. A good strategy - we don’t want to waste food in feeders if the birds aren’t coming!
Our first Project FeederWatch count of the season documented the reality of things - albeit only over a short period of time, we saw a total of 11 individual birds of 5 different species. Pretty low for a property boasting all the food, water, and shelter that birds and other wildlife thrive in.
A handful of chickadees and titmice, a hairy, cardinal, and a couple jays. That’s it. MIA were downies and even the doves. No nuthatches, no finches. Sad.
But just one day later, with the outdoor “thermostat” down add a little snow cover, as they sing, “times, they are a-changin’.”
Just 24 hours after our first count, we’ve had 28 individuals birds in the yard of 12 different species! The surprises were a single Red-winged Blackbird (very late for us, we haven’t seen one in months) and two Fox Sparrows doing their scratch-back motion to uncover food just below the snow and leaf debris.
Juncos (five), jays and chickadees, a pair of cardinals, as well as a Red-breasted Nuthatch and a couple goldfinches. Much better!
So now is the time to start looking for this gradual increase in birds at your feeders and in the area surrounding them (the Fox Sparrows were foraging under shrubs). SLOWLY add more food to your existing feeders, proportionate to the bird activity and SLOWLY add additional feeders back to your set up.
We’ve been anxious for the birds to return. The yard has been somewhat sad of late, and we were missing the movement and color and antics of our beautiful birds. We joyously welcome them back to our yard!