Posted by: Dan | August 15, 2006

Observations at the Birdfeeder

I’ve been writing a manuscript at home for the past few days, plodding along at a relaxed pace, sometimes paying more attention to the birds at the feeder outside the window than to my laptop. Here are a few things that I found interesting:

The local Carolina Wren made an appearance at my sunflower seed tube, sat there for several minutes, and dined on a few seeds. I found this odd, since Wrens are said to be exclusively insectivores. The fact that it then moved over to the adjacent suet cage and had a morsel of that struck me as less strange, but still not a common sight.

I had a great view of a Red-bellied Woodpecker dining on the cone-shaped clusters of berries on my Staghorn Sumac.

The juvenile male Downy Woodpecker has been a joy to watch, as he learns to hang onto the suet cage. His clumsiness is obvious, and I had a wonderful time cheering him on as he struggled to get a few beakfuls of the suet.

A pair of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds chased each other around the birdfeeders a few times (in the blink of an eye, of course), and almost looked like they wanted a snack as well. I found that odd, as I don’t have a hummingbird feeder out, nor are there any red blossoms nearby (other than the staghorn sumac some 25yds away), but it was probably just a coincidence.

And I’m still surprised by the conspicuous absence of Nuthatches and House Finches at the birdfeeders.

…regardless, it makes for entertaining distraction – and at least I’m not falling asleep at 5am looking for Screech Owls lately, as fun as that was…



  1. I’ve been reading your blog with interest. Being obviously someone who is interested very much in the wellbeing of birds and animals, where do you stand with wind power and the effects on bird life?

  2. I didn’t know Carolina wrens lived so far from the Carolinas. They’re frequent visitors to my feeder. Sometimes one will take a nut too big to eat, fly it over to my deck, and peck it to smaller fragments. Or at least try. That process usually involves considerable chasing of the nut all over the deck.

    The seeming oddity here is a late (?) set of bluebird fledglings, visiting the feeder with their mother. It’s the first time I’ve seen them so young this late in the season.


  3. Paul,
    Rob on The Birdchaser had an excellent post on that very topic recently. From my own readings and conversations with ornithologists here at Cornell, I’d say that Rob’s comments are right on target – specifically, when he says:

    If wind developers do their homework, and do a good job choosing a site, then there shouldn’t be too big a problem with a windfarm killing birds.

    Then the question becomes – what constitutes a good site, as well as a good height for turbines and a good arrangement for such farms? Well, I know there’s research being conducted on this – I helped out with one such study in Spring ’05, covering a weekly shift and counting the number and species and altitude of birds that passed through a field where a windfarm had been proposed. But I don’t think that researchers have a concrete set of suggestions/guidelines on how to choose and plan a site just yet.

    Yep – the All About Birds guide here at Cornell describes them as being strongly effected by brutal winters, and with last winter being quite mild, they’re more common around here this year than past years. But yeah, I think central NY state is near the Northern edge of their range.

  4. Dan,

    Thanks for the quick response. I’ll check out the link.

    Regards, Paul

  5. No problem.

    And in reference to the original post, at least one White-breasted Nuthatch has found the new feeders, as have other Downy Woodpeckers, and at least one raccoon! (which I don’t think will be a serious problem, as he didn’t find the tubefeeders too accessible) I’ll keep an eye out for Red-breasted Nuthatches at the feeder now, however, as I’ve found they tend to visit feeders more often in the early-to-mid Fall, and are more rare in their visits..

  6. Dan,

    The references you gave me are quite good. I’ve passed a bit of commentary on my blog and referred back them as a source.

    Thanks again,

    Marrickville – People Against Global Warming


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