Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Springtime is for the Birds
With the official beginning of summer just around the corner, I had wanted to reflect on the birds which have appeared in my yard this springtime. It was a treat to finally see the robins come back. At one point, I counted 20 in the yard. Now I have an average of six at any one time. They look for worms and don’t really use any of the feeders. The feeders are attacting Baltimore orioles, finches, a cowbird or two, catbirds, one or two mockingbirds, lots of wrens, titmouses, mourning doves, and downy woodpeckers. Unfortunately, my dozen juncos which remained for the winter have moved on.
I only have one cardinal couple that I have seen. The male seems to be a bit of a territorial brute as I have had to put up reflective decals on the windows to prevent him from crashing into them. He seems to think he is not the only one in the yard! The cats were enjoying it though, constantly jumping up to the sink when they heard the familiar sound of Mr. Cardinal knocking his head into the glass.
My hummingbird feeder went up in early April this year. In the middle of hanging the feeder, the female buzzed down to me hovering within 2 feet from my face. I think she was just checking me out to see what I was doing. I remember last May putting it up only to be greeted by two angry hummingbirds buzzing around me as if to say,"We have been waiting!!!" I finally saw the male about a week after the female. They usually have a couple babies, one at a time, each year.
The red crested pileated woodpecker is back again and has been heard squawking in the woods but not yet seen. He swoops in dramatically and attaches himself with his strong clawed feet to the small suet cage, winging madly back and forth, as he helps himself to a meal. He’s about the size of a large raven. Just amazing. Can’t wait to see him again this year.
So far I have seen at least seven nests. A couple were completed and then abandoned. I always wonder why. Maybe poor location? The same titmouse built three nests on the same eve on the underside of our deck, each right next to the other. She moved from nest to nest each day but after two weeks abandoned all three! Well … at least the deck can now be powerwashed without disturbing her and her potential brood.
I also had a robin’s nest in the holly tree by the front door. Not exactly an ideal location either. Nevertheless, mama robin laid four gorgeous blue eggs in the nest. For some reason then, she stopped sitting on them. I was baffled. I spied into the nest later in the week and the eggs broken! Maybe another bird ate them? Maybe a squirrel or cat? Several websites stated that the eggs may have been infertile and subsequently eaten by a predator. Other sites stated that robins will abandon their eggs when they decide there is a poor chance of success with the location and eggs. And one other website stated that the mother could have been injured, eaten, or killed, and that is why she never came back. Questions questions. That is nature though.
I am not sure if it is the same robin since we have so many steady visitors these days, but we have a nest about 5 feet up in one of our evergreen trees. There are three babies and the mother has been feeding them each day. It's always fun to watch them grow from hairless little strange looking babies to standing in the edge of the nest on their own with developing feathers. They still have fuzz on the tops of their head, looking like little senior citizens sitting there. And lastly, we have a catbird which has taken up residence in a log cabin bird house hanging from the corner of the deck. She is quite the loud mouth. Very protective as well.
I am happy to see all of the birds. I still put out birdseed, nuts, and suet cakes during the spring and summer. It relaxes me just watching them interact and eat. They all seem to be quite boisterous and noisy at the end of each day while finding their roosts for the evening. We have two lush maple trees in front of the house. From the deck some nights, it seems as if an unseen WWF cage match is taking place behind the leaves with all of the branches and leaves wildly moving all about. Then suddenly it grows quiet. They go to bed, and I go to bed, until I am woken up again by the first couple birds chirping awake at 5:00 am. And then it begins anew.