Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Bird Feeding This Winter

I try to do the Cornell FeederWatch program each winter. Or I should say that I used to do the FeederWatch, many years ago, when we lived in Mayetta, Kansas. I didn't bother doing it in Mobile, because we had so few birds. Besides which, because of the set-up of the back deck there, my feeders had to be set up so far away from the house that it was inconvenient to watch the birds consistently.

The winter after we moved here, I re-enrolled in FeederWatch and started regularly counting the birds at my feeders again, but I did not get around to entering my data. This winter I managed to both enroll myself AND start entering the data. Because I'm doing it on-line, I can count for 2 days every week, so I've chosen Mondays and Tuesdays. They've turned out to be frustratingly busy days, requiring me to be away from home quite a bit, but I've done the best I can.

I've noticed a few interesting things:

The FeederWatch folks are suspicious of my numbers of white crowned sparrows. I don't know why I have so many, but I seem to have become the winter hangout for both matures and immatures, in about a 1:2 ratio. It's hard to photograph the big flocks, because they often appear in the late afternoon, when the sun is getting low directly behind them and their brown feathers blend in well with the brown grass. Here, though, is a photo of a couple adults taking some liquid refreshment (in the company of a female cardinal) at our newly installed, deck rail "water bar".

(I started the winter with less than 10 white crowneds, soon went up to +/- 25 at a time, and actually recorded a couple cold days in January where there were over 50 at a time.)

Speaking of cardinals, another cold winter day I had over a dozen cardinals firing up the trees:

Harris sparrows are even more common at my feeders than white crowned sparrows are. My high count for those was over 100 at one time. This poor photo is an enlargement of a small portion from a much larger image. Despite its poor resolution, it shows the plumage of Harris sparrows better than any other photo I currently have. (Guess who needs to photograph a few more Harris sparrows?)
Well, more observations in another post, as 3-4 photos at the resolution I like to keep them is all that Blogger will accept per post.

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