Posts Tagged ‘birdwatching’

december 2: feederwatching

December 2, 2018 @ 2:48 pm | Filed under: ,

I took this photo a couple of weeks ago; most of those glorious leaves have fallen now and the sky is hung upon the bare arms of the trees. Light glows from behind the clouds. I hadn’t realized how much I missed clouds, all those years under the clear blue Southern California sky. Here in the Pacific Northwest, the sky is painted by Maxfield Parrish, shot through with light. Even when it’s overcast and gray, there’s a glow behind the veil.

I made a list yesterday of things to write about. I’ve tucked so many stories in drafts this past year! But everything on my list feels like work. And I’m trying really hard not to work today.

So I’ll talk about Project Feederwatch instead. 🙂 Are any of you participating this year? We missed it last year. And our San Diego feeder attracted rats, so we abandoned it. But here, the birds are putting on quite a show. Our count days are Monday and Tuesday. Last week we counted 25 goldfinches, a flock of bush tits (we lost count at 25 but I think there were more), a handful of house finches and juncos, a female Northern Flicker who visits the suet feeder every morning, a downy woodpecker, two chickadees, two scrub jays, and some starlings. A highly satisfying count. The best view of the feeders is from my studio window, and it amuses me no end to come in here and find the chairs pulled out for better viewing. Huck and Rilla spend a lot of time in here, watching the show.

If you’re interested in taking part in the project, it’s not to late to join for this season. It takes a few weeks for the packet to arrive, but you can download a data sheet to tide you over. Once you get your registration packet in the mail, you begin entering your bird counts online. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology uses this data to “track long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance.” I think it’s open to U.S. residents only (and costs $18 to participate), but there’s a Canadian version linked on the site.

I fill our two tube feeders with sunflower seeds. One suet feeder holds a peanutty cake, and the other is a suet-and-insect cake that the woodpeckers seem crazy about. We scatter a bit of millet on the ground for the juncos, and they clean up any sunflower seeds spilled by the squabbling goldfinches. We also have a mesh sock full of nyjer thistle for the finches. But my favorite is when they descend upon the big pot of cosmos and pick out the seeds from the flower centers.

I keep watching for the varied thrushes who began visiting our yard last winter. No luck yet but I’m hopeful!

I would love to hear about the birds that visit your yard, feeders or no!

Still catching up.

March 21, 2012 @ 7:21 pm | Filed under: , ,

While we were away, cold rains pounded San Diego, stranding my parents inside with the kids and washing away most of our carrot seedlings. The radishes and lettuces survived the floods and are looking sprightlier than ever. The blueberries dropped a lot of blossoms but I think we’ll get a few berries, at least. The flowers are lusher than ever, fresh-faced now that I’ve picked off the spent, rain-battered blossoms.

We miss our bird feeder. Last summer, it attracted rats, so we emptied it. I’m aching to try again. When we moved from New York to Virginia in the winter of 2002, the very first box I unpacked was the one marked BIRD FEEDERS. True story. In our Long Island backyard, we had downy woodpeckers, nuthatches, and titmice at the feeders every day. I can still feel the cold glass of the sliding door that tiny Jane and I use to lean against as we watched our birds. In Virginia, we had cardinals, juncoes, and my favorite, the wee chickadees. A pair of bluebirds nested in a box under our deck, right outside my office window. I wrote Across the Puddingstone Dam between bouts of peeking at those bluebirds from between the blinds.

In this yard, we mostly only see sparrows and finches, and the imperious crows. There’s a lone phoebe, junco-gray and tufted like a cardinal, who perches on the fence, watching warily as I putter in the garden. There are the hummingbirds, of course, flashing low overhead like little green comets, perching on the slender branches of the cape honeysuckle. They adore those trumpety orange flowers, as do the bees. I haven’t seen the scrub jay in a while. All last summer he called outside our bedroom window at a minute past sunrise every morning. The kids named him Peanut, after his favorite food.

I just googled my own blog to see when I’ve posted about the flock of parrots in years past. January and February is when they swirl through our neighborhood, it seems. But I don’t think I’ve heard them this year! Any other San Diegans know the whereabouts of those rowdy green squawkers right now?