Sunday, October 19, 2008

Hope Revived

It was a beautiful October day and I had time this morning to watch the birds at the feeders, and a couple of new ones [for this location, anyway] showed up. Of course, the usual suspects - House Sparrows & House Finches - were around.

Later, a pair of Carolina Chickadees came around, sharing the feeder if need be with the House Finch.

They would grab a sunflower seed and take off to the shrubs across the parking lot. Return for another, and repeat over and over again, chattering all the way back.

This male Downy Woodpecker didn't actually feed from the feeder, but hung around for a short while to check it out. Now that he knows what's here, maybe he'll come back for the suet this winter.

I've been wondering why there have been so few birds. Do you think my bird-watching partner could have something to do with it?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Project FeederWatch - Preseason

Project FeederWatch is a winter-long survey of birds that visit feeders at backyards, nature centers, community areas, and other locales in North America. FeederWatchers periodically count the highest numbers of each species they see at their feeders from November through early April. FeederWatch helps scientists track broadscale movements of winter bird populations and long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance.

Project FeederWatch is operated by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada.

This season will be my 4th [correction -- 5th] and it starts November 8th. I put up the feeders after I moved here hoping that the birds would find them and start flocking around them on a regular basis. But if last weekend is any indication, bird activity will be sparse. My count would have been:

House Sparrow - 3
House Finch - 2

These aren't difficult birds to attract to a feeder. Where are the Downy Woodpeckers that stopped by briefly a couple of weeks ago? The Northern Cardinals that were the first visitors? Nope, HOSPs and HOFIs.

This poor fellow is suffering from conjunctivitis, and respiratory disease that is common in House Finches. It causes the eyes to become inflamed and a crust to form on them; making it difficult to see, forage, and avoid predators. He comes around several times a day for the easy pickings.

The poor eyesight also makes it difficult for him to even find the feeder. He'll make several passes at it before he finds the platform.

The only other interesting visitor over the weekend was this praying mantis that found something good (to him) to eat.