Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Ok, the Squirrels are NO LONGER Cute...

What I SHOULD be seeing is this:

Aww, they're feeding each other!

Or, this:

It almost looks like they posed for me!

Instead, what I am seeing is this:

and this:

Apparently, the squirrels like the new seed I purchased. A lot. In fact, they like it so much, they are willing to gorge on it together in peace and not chase each other off. This morning, I went charging out in my pajamas and bare feet to scare THREE of the little buggers off.

My mistake was in the seed mix. They apparently LOVE the sunflower seeds, judging by the amount of hulls they've tossed all over the patio. And, of course, the ingenuous little hogs have figured out how to take the top off the feeder so that they can sit IN the seeds to sift through them to their little black hearts' content. I've even seen them chase off starlings!

Needless to say, I am not thrilled. While the occasional acrobatic act was amusing and cute to watch, this outright pillaging of the haven I've set for my fine feathered friends is an outrage! Just the other day I caught a glimpse of goldfinches; now I fret that they'll never come back!

My solution: when the current batch of apparently flavorful seeds is gone (at this rate, it won't take long!) I plan to purchase safflower seeds and only safflower seeds. According to a bird expert, squirrels do not care for safflower seeds. Since I cannot afford all sorts of fancy squirrel-proof feeders and equipment, I thought this might be the most logical choice of action.

(Short of dressing in cammo and waiting for the little buggers with an uzi....)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Settling Into a Routine and a Mystery Bird

We're getting into a regular schedule at my house. Crack of dawn, the birds come and feed, soon after follow the squirrels and the rabbit, and a few hours later I wake up and rush off to work. ;) I'm not sure if they graze on and off during the day or not - the cat would know, but she's not talking! I get home around 5 p.m. or so, on most days. Again, the birds feed first; then the rodents scare them off. Tonight I noticed Peter and Fred calmly sharing their dinners, though Peter was nibbling on grass instead of seeds.

Here's a rundown on the bird species that have graced my feeder thus far) and many of them have made their first appearance just this week):

  • a pair of house finches - my long-time guests
  • at least two pairs of dark-eyed juncos (slate variation)
  • two pairs of mourning doves and one single dove (I had a single one for a couple weeks that I was calling Clarisse - she brought her friends along just the other night)
  • various robins
  • various starlings (those buggers chase the others off)
I am anxiously trying to lure some bluebirds that I have seen flitting about in the field. I've even gone so far as to buy some mealy worms from the local bait machine! So far there have been no takers, though.

Tuesday was a gorgeous day here in Central Pennsylvania. I decided it was time to throw that first steak of the year on the grill and eat out on the patio. As I sat outside under my cheery umbrella waiting for my food, I noticed Clarisse worriedly eyeing me from the neighbors clothesline. Another small, gray "mystery" bird actually landed at the feeder and either didn't notice me or ignored me. Garnering confidence from the smaller bird dining unmolested, Clarisse eventually joined me for dinner. I spent the meal wondering about my mystery guest, though.

After I ate (and after a startled visit from Fred, who quickly scampered back around the corner of the house upon seeing me), I went inside to try to figure out what species of bird I had just seen. My favorite bird identification site is What Bird. They have a really cool tool that allows you to put in the characteristics you see in a bird and narrow down what species it might be. Unfortunately, it goes mostly by the male bird's appearance, so I was not initially able to determine what I was looking at.

However, tonight I hit the jackpot. I just happened to look out the window, and what did I see? A male brown-headed cowbird! (The females are slate gray.) Mystery solved!

(pictures will be forthcoming)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Dude, I Thought I Was Just Lookin' At Birds...

Alright. I was expecting squirrels. Squirrels are notoriously annoying for attacking bird feeders. I can deal with that; at least they're entertaining while they do it. In fact, the one day I had no less than three of the bushy-tailed little rodents raiding my rations.

This particular squirrel I have nicknamed Fred. I name everything Fred. I even have a ficus named Fred. See how graceful he is - balancing upside down by his feet, nibbling with both hands? Do squirrels actually have feet and hands? Or are they just considered paws? They have definite hand-like qualities...

Anyway, I was not entirely prepared for the rabbit. I was anticipating him going after my tender young lettuce shoots once it warms up, but not my birdseed. Peter, we'll call him, showed up this evening beneath the feeder. I wouldn't have noticed him, except for the fact that the cat was chirruping her "I want it" signal, and I went running to see which of my feathered friends was dining out tonight. I suppose I should be glad that he is nibbling up the "waste" seed that falls to the ground, but I have a feeling I am setting myself up for trouble later, when I put out my potted plants.