claireplymouth

Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2018 #1

This thread is intended to give people a place to post photos and/or talk about birds, critters, wildlife, fish, whatever - topics you might not want to start a whole thread on, but are still garden-related. You can see the range of possible topics in the previous threads:

INDEX to threads 2008 to 2011

For 2012, see the links posted in

RE RE: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2012 #7. There may be problems with some of the links. I've corrected those I can edit.

2013 threads: 
INDEX: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2013

2014 threads:
INDEX: Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2014

2015 threads: Links for #1 through #10 are included in

Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2015 #11

2016 threads: Links for #1 through #9 are included in

Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2016 #10

2017 threads:

Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2017 #1

Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2017 #2

Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2017 #3

Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2017 #4

Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2017 #5

Birds and other mobile features in the garden 2017 #6

..............................................................................................................................................

With winter upon us, I repeat the mantra I said years ago, somewhere. "Far better to ponder interesting wildlife behavior in the garden than to spend the winter staring at dormant plants."

...............................................................................................................................................


Not exactly Olympic caliber but these three turkey toms were eating birdseed on the ground and looking like they were part of a synchronized eating team.

Claire

Comments (84)

  • claireplymouth z6b coastal MA
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    I think I heard Olivia giggling...

    Claire

  • corunum z6 CT
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    They just lowered the snow amount forecast for central CT to 4-8" and the birds seem to know.

    This was the March 8th storm, 9am - not a bird in sight.

    Storm of March 13th, 9am (not that time is a factor) - everybody is eating. I've filled the feeders again this morning and cleaned the tray as the snow continues to fill it, but they can eat - and Fly! Boy, in last week's storm they really hid. Yup, 3 nor'easters in 2 weeks is enough.

    Jane

    Oh, yeah.. this was yesterday when I told him about the oncoming snow storm:

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  • corunum z6 CT
    2 years ago

    Have a feeling that watching birch bark exfoliate is right up there with watching paint dry, but they did it for an hour.

  • NHBabs z4b-5a NH
    2 years ago

    What a nice color echo!

    Jane, your captions frequently make me laugh, but there isn't a laugh option with the like button. How did the tree do with the heavy snow? I noticed that some of the more slender Heritage birches at work broke in the last storm, while most of the larger ones were fine.

  • corunum z6 CT
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    NHBabs, -- Well, good. A smile or chuckle is so necessary these days. We have two clumps of the heritage birch. The dove-claimed birch is 3 trunks, whilst the Philosophy Garden out back has a 4 trunk clump that has not developed as well as the 3. So far, all have hung in there with mid-trunk limbs sometimes reach reaching the ground under the snow burden, but no breakage...so far. I'm thinking about a bitula nigra shiloh splash for the other back corner of the yard which is a wetter area. If that happens, as the crow flies, its aerial view would see a trinity of birches embracing the gardens. Maybe when I sprout wings (?) I'll get a better picture like the crow, but I like birches nearly as much as the birds do. A main beauty of the birch, to me, is that it has branches to fit all size feet: Crow and hawk to hummingbird. That was my main reason for choosing that tree to be near the bird feeders. That reason, and the fact that if it fell on the house, the house would win. Have thought to ask the arborist if perhaps the dove birch should be cabled. We'll see when he shows up about the split kousa.

    Meanwhile, wake us when it's over.

    Jane :)

  • corunum z6 CT
    2 years ago

    This post has nothing to do with cute deer looking for more kernels.

    Is there anymore corn in there?

    Lemme see...

    Thanks.

    Rather, it has everything to do with a kernel of landscaping truth.

    If you feed birds, clear paths for easier access because you feel sorry for the deer and birds, then one has to stop complaining about hydrangeas not blooming. The hydrangeas are deer toothpicks after a good seed dinner. I will be putting in many, many boxwoods this year -- and continue to clear pathways for the critters. Our priorities eventually show up.

    Jane





  • NHBabs z4b-5a NH
    2 years ago

    Plant more blight-resistant boxwoods.

  • Pat z5/6 SEMich
    2 years ago

    I have 6 (2 clumps) River Birch ordered and 2 Thuga Green Giants and 2 Serviceberry tree/bushes already ordered from a local nursery that thinks I must be truly nuts to have already paid so early. They felt compelled to remind me that it is only mid-March. But, honestly, enough is enough. I need more birds! And you guys are either getting hit again right now or will be tonight. Jeesh.

  • claireplymouth z6b coastal MA
    Original Author
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Nice trees you've ordered, Pat (or did the birds make you order them?).

    The weather is calm here now, and is forecast to be calm for the next four days, after which they're waffling. This is good, it gives me time to clear the debris from the last storm.

    Claire

  • corunum z6 CT
    2 years ago

    Pat - I agree, nice trees. The nursery folks may have been trying to do you a favor by not buying trees that may yet suffer snow damage - assuming they are growing outdoors. I am in contact with a nurseryman for larger B&B trees and he said for me to come see the trees after April 1st -- "Let's see which ones make it through the winter", he said. I agree. A good, solid tree that loses some main branches may quickly be disqualified from the fine-looking and salable tree category.

    I had to go through Cornell's site, grackles, RWBs, all the growth costumes they wear before finally finding the name of the bird with orange legs and beak. Looks to be a 1st winter European Starling. If anybody knows otherwise, let me know, please. The orange beak is questionable...well, not for him --just me. He already knows who he is.

    Jane

  • Pat z5/6 SEMich
    2 years ago

    Hope you guys are doing okay in the current storm out there. Don't know how you do it. Claire, saw your coastline getting battered tonight on ABC World News. Stay well.

  • claireplymouth z6b coastal MA
    Original Author
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Thanks, Pat. The storm started slowly and never really got going here, which is fine with me. I didn't even have to go out and shovel for the birds!

    It's snowing now but the temperature has hovered around freezing and the ground is warm (relatively) so nothing is sticking. There's still some leftover icy snow chunks scattered around.

    The blackbird hordes are coming and going but the regulars just wait for them to leave and go back to feeding.

    Cardinal:

    White-throated sparrow:

    Song sparrow:

    Yesterday afternoon I threw a lot of bird seed mix under the hollies so the little guys that lurk had plenty of food early this morning.

    Claire

  • claireplymouth z6b coastal MA
    Original Author
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    The blackbird hordes came back (again). That's mostly redwings and grackles although I wouldn't rule out a few starlings and cowbirds:

    It still looks a little strange to see birds on the ground and a squirrel on a hanging feeder:

    Claire

  • corunum z6 CT
    2 years ago

    That is one happy squirrel. I paid too much for a super-dooper peanut suet cake and put it in the lift-top, tail-prop special suet cage. The next morning the top of the cage was flipped over and peanut micro dust was all that was left. Back to the cheap wire cage with a lock! They are clever.

  • claireplymouth z6b coastal MA
    Original Author
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    I have two tail-prop suet feeders with two wire cages each so there's a total of four suet cages out there. Two of those wire cages have loose latches although I don't know if it was squirrels or crows that pulled them open.

    I now use a twistem to hold those latches closed.

    Both squirrels and crows are clever.

    As a side note, ornamental grasses are great for wiping suet off your hands - another reason not to clean them up in the fall.

    Claire

  • claireplymouth z6b coastal MA
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    I was just out looking for crocuses and I noticed a hole in the bluestone path which looks as if it's currently in use - probably a chipmunk although I haven't seen one lately.

    I imagine it's nice and warm (relatively) under there, as long as there's a side chamber to avoid the water flow.

    Claire

  • corunum z6 CT
    2 years ago

    They build dams, too. Lots of holes here, maddeningly so, but the thinking for proper engineering boggles my mind. They filled our downspot with pebbles 9” deep to divert water away from their house. Oh, joy, another spring full of chipper life.

  • claireplymouth z6b coastal MA
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    I saw a red fox this morning eating birdseed on the ground in my yard. It stayed for a while then seemed to know it was being watched, so it ran to another groundfeeding area where neither I nor the camera could see it well.

    I did get a few good closeups:

    and a video

    Claire

  • corunum z6 CT
    2 years ago

    Wow! Good job, Claire. I didn't realize that they would eat seed off the ground. Now I know.

  • defrost49
    2 years ago

    I don't think there is any black oil seeds on the ground since squirrels and birds get to it first. I haven't seen a fox in a long time. There's a lot of niger seed on the ground and once the feeder is empty (which will be soon) that's it for this year. The guy at the farm store said he didn't think bears were interested in niger seed but it makes a mess near a flower bed. We also have the garden hooks stuck in the ground in front of our kitchen window so we can watch the birds close up. There are also feeders in the maple tree across the driveway. Yesterday my husband took a back route to the compost bin area to dump three 5-gallon buckets of kitchen scraps on my new lasagna bed. I usually cover kitchen scraps right away with grass clippings but I'm still not ready to go outdoors. We've been seeing a porcupine grazing in the hay field and now a small group of wild turkeys are hanging around the field. We haven't seen the turkeys all winter. Deer are feeding there as well but not every day.

  • claireplymouth z6b coastal MA
    Original Author
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    And this morning a turkey tom was displaying in the same spot where the fox was eating birdseed yesterday. This has become a major showtime arena. I had just gone outdoors to deal with the mail and some bird stuff and this was the view from my porch:

    The tom wasn't particularly worried about me but I did take another route to the mailbox so he wouldn't be scared off. There were no hens in sight; just another tom that deferred to the displaying tom.

    I was outside with the camera so you can hear birdsong during the video.

    Claire

  • corunum z6 CT
    2 years ago

    What a great showing despite her not being impressed. The male turkey particularly has very sartorially sophisticated plumage. His suit is amazing to me. Good movie, Claire.

    claireplymouth z6b coastal MA thanked corunum z6 CT
  • corunum z6 CT
    2 years ago

    All Dark-eyed Junco flights are cancelled. Doesn’t his guy look happy?



    If one more Southerner on Facebook tells me, "But it's pretty!", I'll spit. At least the Juncos are pleased and the snap peas and poppies I planted yesterday are thrilled. The promised 1-3" is now 5" and still coming down. I'll have to uncork my happiness after I snow blow.

    Jane

  • NHBabs z4b-5a NH
    2 years ago

    Oh, no! Not more snow . . .

  • claireplymouth z6b coastal MA
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    Well, the snow melted away here and life goes on.

    The red fox came back today (I'm assuming it's the same one) and drank from a birdbath in the shadows. That's a fractured pitch pine log left over from the storm damage.

    Foxes eat suet too. I put suet nuggets and some broken suet pieces on the ground for the crows and whatever birds don't hang from feeders well. The fox found the leftovers and seemed happy to have it. It should be a good energy source.


    Claire

  • corunum z6 CT
    2 years ago

    Great captures, Claire! It looks like he/she is beginning to shed that winter coat in the hind quarters. Another sign of warming days. Hopefully, it is shedding and nothing else. He seems to come often enough that you can keep an eye on him.

    claireplymouth z6b coastal MA thanked corunum z6 CT
  • corunum z6 CT
    2 years ago

    Just hanging around molting in the snow. Poor little guy looks the way many of us feel.

    Yes, they can scratch one ear, hang on, eat, and molt all at once. April 5th - the one hour the sun came out.

    Jane

  • deanna in ME Barely zone 6a, more like 5b
    2 years ago

    Husband saw seals off the dock. Another sign of spring! They are hard to photograph. They only surface for a few seconds before they’re off under water zipping around for meals.

  • corunum z6 CT
    2 years ago

    Is this stuff organic?

    Until the clouds part to let the sun through, I know the link below is a repeat, but on yet another cloudy day, cheerful music seems necessary.


    Bird Song Opera

  • corunum z6 CT
    2 years ago

    Not all pole dancers are created equally. This guy is my favorite.

    Sizing up the situation

    Walkabout thinking time

    The attempt

    Forgot to figure in that darn springy thing

    Jane

  • NHBabs z4b-5a NH
    2 years ago

    Thwarted!

  • claireplymouth z6b coastal MA
    Original Author
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    That's one critter that curses the presence of Spring....

    Claire

  • corunum z6 CT
    2 years ago

    The line between resignation and acceptance of life with chipmunks, et al, is gossamer thin for me. I'm quite confident Chippers and the like will win simply through their plentiful annual litters versus me,... eh, not so much.

    Yesterday morning (the one warm day) I started the riding mower to make sure it works and luckily, it started right up. However, when I engaged the mowing deck to check it, nest remnants went flying out the side chute along with a long dead mouse. Not pleasant for me or the mouse's spirit. And then came the check on my eagerly awaited sugar snap peas.

    Apparently, the chipster called this Earthbox home unbeknownst to me. Weeks ago I planted a dozen peas, covered the box with a screen and weighted it with bricks. A few days later, I discovered one chewed hole in the screen and felt terrible that he may have been trapped in the box, but I moved the screen so he couldn't return. Humility should grow with age (and it usually does) as we continue to learn that gardening is spiritual and chipmunks see it differently. I feel bad that he may have bloody lips and gums, but there is no trace of blood that I can see and I am not buying a black light to find out if he wounded himself. What I do know is that I won't have any peas...again this year...and in this case, acceptance is wiser than resignation.

    Jane -- who may plant thick metal flowers.

  • NHBabs z4b-5a NH
    2 years ago

    Replant the peas. Not too late, and a year without fresh garden peas is difficult to contemplate, at least in my world.

  • claireplymouth z6b coastal MA
    Original Author
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    But maybe put a different, heavy-duty, chipmunk-resistant cover on them...

    Claire

  • deanna in ME Barely zone 6a, more like 5b
    2 years ago

    Jane, you're post brings up some philosophical gardening thoughts that have been on my mind all winter. I feel very certain that we are living through a time which will later be seen as a major shift in gardening. There have been those times in the past, for example the symmetrical gardens of the nobility (tight control over wild nature) giving way to the cottage garden (bring some of the peasant and the wild home). Nature was that uncontrollable gift that could leave you hungry or well-fed.

    I feel now we are in the transition where previously plentiful "pests" (stinging bees, caterpillars, etc) are now seen as potentially endangered, so we're transitioning from how to get rid of nature in our "pretend nature" gardens to how to encourage more nature and "pests" and blending our gardens with the untamed. Chemicals are eschewed, while insects, wildlife, and caterpillars are welcomed. Nature is not nearly the threat it used to be, so we're not necessarily at war with it anymore.

    These thoughts are all well and good, but then I'm confronted with how much I change my viewpoint with those livings things that still ARE plentiful and possibly bothersome.

    Like slugs. Will I one day regret allowing my slugs to drink themselves to death in beer traps? Will I miss them? It's hard to imagine. How many slugs should I "allow" in the garden? When I can capture 15 slugs in one 4" diameter container in a few hours, I tend to feel their are too many.

    And crows. I saw a PBS special (Birdbrain I think) and it turned crows into fascinating creatures. Before they were those big black birds with the annoying song that were EVERYWHERE, and they chase away the eagles and ospreys. So now they're OK, but they and the seagulls are certainly not in short supply around here.

    And squirrels and chipmunks. One gardener calls them "tree rats" and he's about right. No supply chain issues with them.

    True pests, like emerald ash borer, etc. are understandable. But, I still struggle with seeing the "ordinary" around here as not requiring my respect. Hopefully I'm still changing, too! The ladies on this forum and these bird/wildlife posts have by far taught me more about that than any other source.

    claireplymouth z6b coastal MA thanked deanna in ME Barely zone 6a, more like 5b
  • corunum z6 CT
    2 years ago

    Claire - I checked, but I'm fresh out of maile. I'm glad, Deanna, that this thread is also a teaching thread. We KNEW its theme was a good idea a decade ago when Claire started it . Learning from NHBabs, I just put another dozen 'Sugar Ann' peas to soak overnight and I will plant them tomorrow - rain or not. This time, I'm not even going to try to cover them, but will use a different, hopefully unoccupied, Earthbox. "You cannot adjust the wind, but you can adjust your sails'.

    Jane

    P.S. Deanna - concerning slugs, "This Bud's for you" is a great way to go: Drunk and dreamy. It would work for me, lol.

  • NHBabs z4b-5a NH
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Jane, in a previous garden we had strawberries that were eaten by the chippies, much to my annoyance. We ended up with 1/4" hardware cloth covers over the bed, but I think a simple piece of hardware cloth similarly weighed down to the screen will allow you your peas without threat of them being eaten. They may even be able to grow right through the hardware cloth.

    Deanna, I've always enjoyed the hawks, owls, and eagles, but I also like the blue jays, ravens, and crows that mob and harass them, so they are all welcome. I don't have a lot of slugs here, but had in a previous garden, and we did our best to reduce their numbers via manual removal and traps. The only thing I like about slugs is that turtles love them. Though I try not to have favorites, voles, mice, and other small rodents (yes, including chipmunks) won't ever be high on my welcome list since they are one of the prime vectors for ticks, beyond the damage they do in the garden and to buildings. Most everything else except for woodchucks are welcome, and they are fine as long as they stay out of the veggie garden, but they get removed in the vicinity of the veggies, and otherwise left alone. I am always happy to see predators (or more often evidence of their presence) since they are a part of what keeps everything in balance.

    We do try to manage for wildlife, considering all season food, shelter and we have abundant natural water.

  • corunum z6 CT
    2 years ago

    Okay, NHBabs, you've convinced me to try hardware cloth. I'm off to HD for Rust-oleum anyway - time to paint the metal flower (seriously). I'm assuming 1/4" opening on the cloth will work. Oh, joy -- another chipmunk experiment, lol.

  • corunum z6 CT
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Like a good area of the Northern US, since last night we've had sleet that covered the ground white, snow, harsh winds, rain and more rain. This happened in our yard from 2:08PM to 2:12PM this afternoon through rain-soaked windows:

    Oh, please, make it stop.

    If I could fit them all with rain slickers, I would. Birds and critters have my highest respect.

    Jane

  • NHBabs z4b-5a NH
    2 years ago

    Oh my, that is one sorry looking mourning dove but it's clear that your yard is a welcoming site! Both the wild critters and people who are out in this mess have my sympathy.

    We have gotten more sleet than rain still. Every time it turns to rain, the next time I look out, it's semi-solid as it slides down my car's windshield. Yesterday I could work outside, cleaning up in the garden between sleet showers because it was about 30F and no wind, but today is just miserable. It's a good day to hunker down and cook for the next several days.

  • claireplymouth z6b coastal MA
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    Poor soggy dove and fox and everything else out there in the nastiness - and what a day to run (or wheel) a marathon! No sleet here and it's warmed up after not quite touching freezing. My only forays outside have been to get the mail and refill feeders.

    Claire

  • deanna in ME Barely zone 6a, more like 5b
    2 years ago

    Winds are high here. Part of the peninsula lost power. We've got the wood stove going and are thankful lights work. I'm glad to hear this is not a normal April!

  • corunum z6 CT
    2 years ago
    last modified: 2 years ago

    Drying up this morning and there are colors OTHER than gray!

    First Eastern Towhee I've seen this year.

    Suit is changing quickly on Mr. Goldfinch.

    No question - that's a Red-tailed hawk.

    That can also look a lot like a chicken.

    Jane

  • Pat z5/6 SEMich
    2 years ago

    Our sleet melted and it was dry, windless, and 38 today. More snow tonight (Wed.) and Friday supposedly is beginning of warmer weather for good. I have 3 Chipping Sparrows only on a mix bird feeder, Goldfinches on a BOSS feeder, 3 Cardinal couples and Dark Eyed Juncos feeding on the ground. Where were they all winter when I needed them?

    My Roger Tory Peterson Field Guide to the Birds East of the Rockies is dated 1980 and pretty chewed up by my beloved second Samoyed puppy, Kasper, many years ago. I want a new field guide and I value your opinion. Which one do you recommend, please?

  • claireplymouth z6b coastal MA
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    Pat: I like The Sibley Guide to Birds, second edition and The Crossley ID Guide to Eastern Birds. I don't know if the Eastern guide is appropriate for Michigan; they do have a Western guide which may or may not be better for you. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology All About Birds website is great too.

    Cornell also has the Merlin app for identification help and you can install it on your mobile devices.

    Claire

  • corunum z6 CT
    2 years ago

    Hi, Pat, Here is what I own and use:

    The Crossley Guides are really desk guides because they are so big and heavy. I like Sibley as a field guide, even though I rarely take it outside. Over the years as a bird watcher and photographer, with technology changing from film to digital, my pattern of inquiry has changed. Now, I shoot (with my camera) everything in sight and ask questions later. That way I don't have to carry a book. I like the Sibley. I bought the Crossley guides because I wanted a guide specifically for raptors and got a $ break on Amazon for buying both guides together.

    Crossley

    Sibley

    The layout and info given in the Sibley appealed to me more than the other guides when I was searching for a new one. My first guide is an Audubon, copyright 1977.

    Jane

    (My best canine buddy was half Samoyed, half Malamute named Holly. God, I loved that dog!)


  • NHBabs z4b-5a NH
    2 years ago

    I use a Golden Birds of North America copyright 1966 and a Peterson 1980 as well as Cornell's All About Birds website. The Golden Guide I like because it has the maps on the same page as the other info. I have looked a few times at other guides, but with the Cornell website I can look up current classification.

    Today I saw a pair of palm warblers, just passing through from winter to summer home. I hadn't ever seen one before, but they moved too fast for a photo.

  • claireplymouth z6b coastal MA
    Original Author
    2 years ago

    This thread is getting long and probably slow to load for some so I'll start another thread soon. Please feel free to continue the discussion here, but please post new material on the new thread.

    Claire

  • Pat z5/6 SEMich
    2 years ago

    i ordered Sibley East and it will be delivered tomorrow. Thank you so much for your recommendations.