Monday, November 30, 2009

FeederWatch, week 3

This past weekend we had another blast of ridiculously, unseasonably warm weather, with temperatures in the mid-60's on Sunday, floated in on a stream of warm breezes coming out of the south. But oh what a difference a day makes! Today we had a stiff breeze cold enough to make my nose run, and I write this next to the first blaze of the month in the ol' wood stove.

But enough about the weather. What about the birds? Well, surely the two things go hand in hand. For example, the Eastern Towhees and Song Sparrows have been absent from our feeders so far this season, and I'm guessing that is in large part due to the mild weather. Mild weather has meant that lots of bugs are still out and about, thus extending the amount of time these birds can still rely on good "natural" food sources instead of resorting to the seed that we put out for them. These two species (Towhee and Song Sparrow) have made themselves known at our feeders in the past when daytime temps stayed well below 50 degrees, and even more so when snow fell - two conditions that have not been met so far on my FeederWatch days this year.

Other trend notes: Visiting Tufted Titmice are up from last year by a bird or two, and I'm consistently seeing 2 White-breasted Nuthatches each weekend (although I heard as many as 3 at once on several occasions), which has been a rarity in past years. Carolina Wren continues to show up weekly, always brightening my day with its spunky spirit and noisy chittering, chattering, and scolding.

One bird that was absent from the roll call last week was the Red-bellied Woodpecker. I searched high and low both days, and heard some calls far off in the woods, but it never showed up. This week, however, it was very active at the feeders, visiting both the peanut feeder and the suet feeder on numerous occasions. The Red-bellied has become quite adept at plucking whole peanuts from the feeder.

Sizing things up...

Looks like he picked a winner!

A closer view of this feeder beauty.

Tufted Titmice are by far the most frequent visitors to the peanut feeder. They use the little "tails" that are on a lot of the peanuts as a handle. Look at how it's using its toes in the right photo, getting a grip on the nut!


Here's a close-up of using a peanut "tail" as a handle. This little Tufty is in a precarious position, though. I've seen them hanging upside down like this with a nut in their beak, only to lose their grip and drop it. The comical thing about it is that they dive-bomb right down after the nut they just dropped!

Here's the tally of birds counted this past weekend (11/28-11/29):

Mourning Dove15
Red-bellied Woodpecker1
Downy Woodpecker2
Hairy Woodpecker1
Carolina/Black-capped Chickadee4
Tufted Titmouse5
White-breasted Nuthatch2
Carolina Wren1
White-throated Sparrow3
Dark-eyed Junco1
Northern Cardinal5
American Goldfinch10

Happy birding!


Erica Houskeeper said...

These are fantastic! The ones of him "picking a winner" are outstanding. Great job.

By the way, that's so funny about them dive-bombing after the peanuts!

Heather said...

Erica - Thank you so much. It really is very funny to watch them dive after those peanuts. Don't know if I'll be able to capture a photo of that or not, though!

Ginnymo said...

Great shots Heather. I see one of those Red Bellied Woodpeckers around here sometimes but always wondered why they call them that. I don't see any red on their bellies. I didn't know that the Titmouse could get a big peanut like that! never saw them pick one up before. Aren't they so much fun to watch!! We got our first dusting of snow this morning. Hoping it doesn't snow any more. I have to drive 15 miles to see the radiologist today. But I do love the first snow! Have a great day!

Susanna said...

Wonderful photos! That eye of the Red-bellied and all!
I’m so frustrated by squirrels - They get into every feeder. I wish I could have peanuts for the birds. But isn’t it funny how our woodland birds (and others!) love this South American legume?

Heather said...

Ginny - I promise, some Red-bellied Woodpeckers really do have red bellies, but it can be very hard to see, that's for sure. And yes, the Titmice are tons of fun to watch. I hope the weather cooperates for your drive. Take care!

Susanna - I guess animals are entitled to a taste for "exotic" foods just like we are! By a small miracle, the squirrels have shown no interest in our peanut feeder. I also started putting out safflower in one particular feeder, and they leave that alone, too.

The Early Birder said...

Very interesting to see how different species adapt to the 'food shopping'. Nice list of sightings Heather.

Heather said...

Frank - Yes, it is interesting to see how the birds "react" to different foods. I'll never forget the first time I saw a Chickadee eating from our suet feeders - we'd had those suet feeders up for at least a year, and in all that time I never saw a Chickadee touch the stuff, but then suddenly one day, it happened... and it's been happening ever since!

Carol Mattingly said...

Heather, love love love these photos of the woodpecker. I have a woodpecker just like this one that frequents my feeder but now I'm thinking I might need to get the feeder like you have to make it easier and maybe he'll leave my smaller birds feeder alone. Thanks. Carol

Heather said...

Carol - I'm curious, why do you want to keep the woodpecker away from the feeder? Does he keep the other birds away, or just have a hard time getting at it? I would actually recommend a suet feeder for your woodpecker. Peanuts would probably work too, but I think it would come more readily to suet. I don't remember seeing the woodpecker on the peanut feeder much last year, but that's all changed this year!