Watching the Birds Midsummer 2014

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

Yeah, luckily my rabbit problems are mostly limited to winter but occasionally they get a little hot on something and must eat it. Right now, we have a rabbit nest right next to our house in my xeric garden. There are about 5 babies in it and I'm watching them closely so I can snatch them out when they're just old enough and relocate them. They're cuties though for sure.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

Jeff--

Since you have a nest so close to your house--could you observe and see
how early in their lives the mother abandons them? Do you ever see her nearby?
From my observation--she does nor hang around very long--if at all...
Does she ever nurse them? Maybe for a week???
Then she is off to start on her next batch.

Last summer--when I was watering my raised bed--a pile of the babies
came spilling out totally scared to death. They were falling over the edge
of the bed--running in all directions--in total panic...I counted at least 6.
They were about 4"long--just babies.. Mama was nowhere in sight.

How on Earth do they survive? I am sure most of them become food for predators.

Gita

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

G: I don't ever see the mama but I think she comes to check on them at night. She would have to I'd think because when I first noticed the nest, it was last Monday and they all were blind yet. I don't think they opened their eyes until Friday or so. Ideally, I won't let them get old enough to leave the next on their own. They will be taken in a box down to my job and released into the wild. What happens to them then is on them. I noticed the nest was disturbed this morning so I'll check it later. I hope one of them didn't leave already.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

In some bush or tree or wherever--there has to be a nest of Nuthatches.
They are so active in the late afternoons...chittering away. Neat to hear
their many "songs" and sounds and the youngsters answering in a different sound.

Also--somewhere nearby must be a Wren nest---thank G--it is not in
one of my pots again!

Both of these are small birds...I hear them--but I cannot always see them.
They are usually sitting on a fence or on top of my neighbor's garage.

Kind of neat......G.

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

I released the waskly wabbits last night. I was pretty sure one already left and didn't want the others to leave over night so they got scooped up and taken a couple miles away from my house. They were left off near a stream next to tall weeds. The little buggers were so darned cute with their little feet and all.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

Jeff--
I hope there was some Clover where you left them off....
They like to eat it.

YES! They are cute--like tiny stuffed animals. Then they grow up.
No longer cute...

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

There was a bunch of weeds and such. I'm sure they could have found food. There was native impatiens blooming in the area and they were pretty.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

You know--the Mama will whelp a new clutch in a few weeks...
may eeven use the same nest...

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

Well if she might use the same next, maybe I'll leave that hole. I didn't think they would have another litter this season as it would be close to winter then.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

I don't think it is a conscious choice----They just 'do it" as much as possible.

Ever hear the saying---"They multiply as fast as rabbits"?
G.

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

Lol...yeah I've heard it. Well if they do, I'll have to steal those ones too.

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

Saw "our" Cooper Hawk again yesterday. I haven't seen him catch any birds in our yard, but I'm sure that's why he's there. I let the feeders go empty much of the summer this year, but I'll start filling them again, partly for the "company" with Joyanna at school!

We've had parades of fledgelings this year, although I didn't see most of the nests. I'll spot them once the leaves fall. With the construction disturbance, I'm sure we had extra residents this year... although I think some varieties of birds have left altogether until the noise etc. is over. We'll see who shows up at the feeders this fall/winter!

Chevy Chase, MD(Zone 7a)

Jeff -- off topic, but what do you have growing in your xeric garden?

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

Happy, I have the following in that garden:

Hymenoxys acaulis
Dalea purpurea Stephanie
Ratibida columnifera Mexican Hat
Penstemon mexicali Pike's Peak Purple
Sphaeralcea munroana
Salvia dorrii v. incana Robusta
Penstemon palmeri
Agastache cana
Echinacea paradoxa
Scutellaria resinosa Smoky Hills
Erigeron utahensis v. utahensis
Opuntia erinacea var. ursina

It's pretty sweet. Most of these were installed this year.

Chevy Chase, MD(Zone 7a)

Wow -- I'm really interested it this! Did you grow the plants from seed? How did you come up with this selection?

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

I bought most of them from HCG this spring. The prickly pear came from Geoscapes Nursery. I had a problem garden where it gets full sun and no rain (well very little). So I decided to go with some natives from the Rocky mountains and see how it went. All have been a success with the exception of the penstemon palmeri and erigeron, which haven't grown or bloomed this summer. It hasn't died though so that might be a win. For next spring, I think I'm going to get some calochortus bulbs to mix around in there since they are native to the west too, although the ones I might get probably won't be native.

Chevy Chase, MD(Zone 7a)

I hope you'll post lots of photos. I might be able to put some of those in my awful front hill. That's the only place I have any sun. But I also have deer so I have to double check that I'm not buying deer candy!

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

Yeah well I think they'll leave the cactus alone...

I amended the soil with sand and pea gravel when they were planted and no fertilizer was given. I was afraid if I planted with fertilizer they wouldn't do as well because they are used to poor soil. It's amazing how little water I give them and how well they do.

Silver Spring, MD(Zone 7a)

Oh neat! Check this out!

Every fall, thousands of Vaux's Swifts pass through Portland, OR, on their way south to Central America. They roost in chimneys at night and return to the same roosting spot every year. One of the popular roosting spots is the chimney of an elementary school where they hold watch parties!

http://pdxpipeline.com/monthly-event-list/2014-portland-vauxs-swifts-watch-chapman-school-info-pictures-video/

Dover, PA(Zone 6b)

Thanks, That was really interesting.
Just filled my feeders for the first time since last Spring. The only feeders I filled this summer were the Hummer feeders.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

how fun ssg!

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

Nice Video link, SS.

Remember--I wrote some months ago (Spring??) that there were swifts
flying and chirping away over my neighborhood?

I know of a huge chimney about a mile away from here--on the grounds of a
VFW hall. We used to meet there to play Volleyball--and then eat and snack inside
the VFW. Those Swifts were like an instant cloud all above.

There are wooded areas around here that are closer--including the High School.
Wonder if there may be another suitable chimney somewhere closer to my house?

Most home's chimneys have a galvanized tube from the furnace to the roof..
Swifts need brick/stone chimneys so they can latch on to sleep--
They cling, vertically, to the walls inside the chimney..

There is a High School right next to where i live--and several wooded areas....
Some really old houses around there...

Never thought that they were just 'resting' from their migration.....G.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

OK! I will post again--it has been almost a month since anyone, but me, has posted.

I am sure most of us have feeders out by now--yes? Well--I do--and I am being mean.
I almost forgot I had this same issue last year---and now I am promoting the same.

SPARROWS! Lots and lots of sparrows! They are ravenously emptying my bird feeder.
Every now and then I see some other birds--but the sparrows rule. They sit in my
bushes and form colonies....They eat all day long! Good grief!!!

I don't mind feeding birds--but the sparrows will empty my big, 3-tube feeder in
less than a week.

Here is the mean part---Evey couple of days, I put a plastic grocery bag around
the feeder to keep them from eating all my seeds.
My secret hope is that IF they cannot get to the seeds--maybe after a couple days
they will abandon this teritory. HAAAAAAAA---NO WAY!
Yesterday--when i went to take it off--there was a sparrow in the bag.
I guess he snuck in and could not get out....I literally, had it in my hand,,,so pretty...

Every evening--hundreds of them gather in the big, tree-like Crape Myrtle across
the street from me and chatter for an hour or so. A regular, evening concert...
In the morning...and moon..and evening--they all come here to eat my seeds.

Enough, I tell you!!! I have had it! And the winter has yet to start....

Gita

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

Nice G, you're just going to have to buy more food!

We saw a grey bird over the weekend with one of those things on its head like a cardinal. I've never seen it before but it was really noisy. It was a little smaller than a catbird. I'll have to take a pic next time I see it.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Seq, that is a tufted titmouse.

Gita, I suggest you switch for a time to straight safflower. Pricier but I do not have sparrows on it, yet enough nice birds like it or got used to it that it seems fine. Buying cheap seeds and using it too fast, VS buying pricier seed and using it slowly, for better birds ..same $$ ?

Sparrows will eat from the ground, maybe use a bit of cheap seed on the ground for them, use better seed in feeder.

Or sunflower? Not sure if sparrows like sunflower. I stopped buying it because squirrels eat it too fast for my liking.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

Thanks Sally.

I actually have a 10lb. bag of safflower seed in my basement.
I think I got it at wall-mart last year--it was pretty reasonable.

Funny! I already have a BIG saucer on the ground under my plastic chair
with cheap seed in it. like--Big Lots has a 10lb. bag of Millet for $7. I buy that.
Mostly--I started this ground feeding so the Doves would have something to eat.
Of course==the sparrows trash it in one day. How come other birds feed mostly
in the AM and again in the PM--and the Sparrows just eat non-stop.???

Since my feeder has 3 tubes--I could fill 2 of them with safflower--and one with
Sunflower seeds. Keep the cheap stuff + cracked corn in the saucer on the ground.
So far--I have not yet seen any black birds---they would devour the corn.

The squirrels cannot get to my hanging feeder. I make sure any chairs and tables
are more than 4' away. That seems to be the limit for squirrels jumping UP
to reach something. They can make do with what falls to the ground.

Gita

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Sounds like a good plan Gita. Do it! And I hope the sparrows don't like safflower. It has a harder coat or something. Don't keep saving the safflower, don't want it to go stale on you.

Sparrows trash it because they are trashy birds= english house sparrows that is

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

Yes! Trashy! One of the invasive species.....GO BACK HOME to England!!!!!!!!

G.

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

Thanks for the ID Sally. I'll have to snap a pic next time he comes.

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

Oh, you have a Tufty! They're so sweet. I've never seen one here, but my folks have them on the windowsill all winter.

Yep, time to fill all the feeders again! Going to try cracked corn again for the squirrels... as long as that feeder of corn mixed with some other stuff (even burnt toast pieces) was full, they mostly left the other feeders alone. I tried going cheaper with whole kernel corn, and they turned up their noses. House sparrows went for the cracked corn, too, and the mourning doves cleaned up any mess. :-)

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Squirrels would sit and eat the germ out of every corn kernel and leave the rest- picky jerks.

Barred owl is calling right now, can't be much farther than the next yard or two!!!! Big thrill for suburbia. Love it!

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

Our little 'Tufty' came up to the feeder again. He's got some moves on that suet feeder! It's down to the end where some birds have trouble getting at it but I guess they're as nimble as the chickadees and woodpeckers.

Vienna, VA(Zone 7a)

Titmice are so cute! I've seen them eating black-oil sunflower seeds, but I'm pretty sure they go after the peanuts in shells too. I know the nuthatches take them, as well as woodpeckers, blue jays, grackles (in season; gone for now thank God) and, of course, chipmunks and squirrels.

The juncos should be coming back soon. As much as I hate winter, I'm always glad to see them.

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

Yeah I'm excited to see what other winter birds come to our feeder. We just feed a suet and only have one feeder but it's a lot of fun to watch them come up.

The robins were starting to devour the pyracantha berries this weekend. I was beginning to wonder when they'd start their feast.

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)

Robins? This time of year?????

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

Yeah there were about 5 of them. Last year I think it was more towards the end of September they were eating the berries. I don't know, I figured they were getting plumped up for their migration.

Anne Arundel,, MD(Zone 7b)

Robins do not all migrate

http://www.learner.org/jnorth/tm/robin/FAQSWintering.html

Salem Cnty, NJ(Zone 7b)

We usually have robins all year.

Saw a cute little wren this morning on the roof of a sparrow house and it was summarily shooed away by said sparrow. I wish the wrens would find the wren house. Maybe it is not situated properly.

Lititz, PA(Zone 6b)

Very interesting article Sally, thanks!

Vienna, VA(Zone 7a)

Yes, thanks Sally!
I get overwintering robins as well. I've given them fruit, but I don't remember whether I put out mealworms. I buy dried mealworms because they're easier, cheaper, and the birds are happy to eat them.

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