Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Feeder Birds

Two quick moving storms over the weekend brought a total of three inches of snow to Blue Jay Barrens.  Snow typically increases the number of birds visiting the feeders, so I paid particular attention to that area in hopes of seeing some new additions to the normal mob.

In order to reduce the number of deer visiting the area, I usually wait until the sun is well up before replenishing the food and water supply.  Blue Jays begin arriving at daybreak and line up in the surrounding trees to await my appearance.  If I’m delayed for any reason, they begin to get noisy.  The Jays are first to the feed and pretty much dominate the scene for the first 15 minutes. 

Blue Jays primarily utilize a grab and go technique.  Their time on the ground lasts only seconds as they take a sunflower seed or bit of corn and depart.

Most take their find directly into the apple tree beside the feeder.  Here they shell their sunflower seed or wedge their corn into a crevice where it can be broken into smaller bits.

The apple tree has a definite wild and unkept look about it.  The branches are too interwoven and closely spaced for good fruit production, but they form a tangle that makes the birds feel safe.

Mourning Doves move in once the Blue Jays have finished. 

The whole schedule can be put on hold when the Wild Turkeys show up.  Fortunately, the turkeys normally visit the feeder in late morning, so most other birds have already had a chance at the feed.

While the larger birds feed in the open, smaller species forage in a forest of dead Giant Ragweed stalks.  Although the stalks seem brittle and fragile, they have not bowed to the pressures of wind or snow. 

The birds cleaned up the ragweed seeds long ago, but I always scatter some fresh feed among the stalks.

The House Finches seem to prefer feeding among the stalks.  They will visit the feeder mounted next to the ragweed, but they tend to shy away from feeding in the open area beneath the apple tree.

 There seems to be a constant stream of birds moving between the feeder and the ragweeds.

I was expecting an increase in bird numbers because of the snow, but the arrival of a single Evening Grosbeak was the only thing that made the snow day different from any other we’ve had during the past month.

Throughout the day, the regular birds arrived at their normal times.  I guess the snow just wasn’t enough to change any normal feeding patterns.

The woodpecker tree, despite the fact that it’s now on its side on the ground, continues to attract woodpeckers.  This Hairy Woodpecker consumes sunflower seeds from the feeder, but it also spends considerable time digging for insects in the dead wood.

The arrival of the Cooper’s Hawk signals an end to the feeding activity.  If I look out the window and see no birds, it usually means that the hawk is somewhere near.  This time he was sitting atop a branch stub projecting from the downed woodpecker tree.  This is a common perch used after an unsuccessful raid.  I’m sure he would have appreciated a large congregation of birds brought in by a heavy snow.  Maybe that’s not going to happen this year.


  1. Very interesting sequence of birds at your feeders!

  2. Hi, Furry Gnome. The interaction between species is fun to watch.

  3. Hi Steve, fantastic bird, that Evening Grosbeak. I think it's the only one that I've heard of in Ohio this winter. Always look forward to your posts.

  4. Hi, Jim. I rarely see an Evening Grosbeak here. When I do, I usually assume they've become common across the state.