2016 is here!

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Female Northern Cardinal with a Downy Woodpecker beyond.

cardinal

New Year’s Resolution: keep an eye on the birds.

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Goldfinches, male cardinal and chickadee. The feeders are busy when it snows.

Adorable downies

downy woodpecker

Dear little downy, the smallest woodpecker in North America.

This year we have a bumper crop of these sweet and fairly tame woodpeckers. When they were fledging they were all over the place, accidentally and on purpose.

downy woodpecker male

This one is a male, you can tell by the red patch on his head.

downy woodpecker

They just love the Feathered Friend brand suet cakes I get at our local Agway.

downy woodpecker female

This female Downy Woodpecker is enjoying some homemade suet dough in the platform feeder.

According to Chipper Woods Bird Observatory

In addition to its popularity with backyard bird feeding enthusiasts, the Downy Woodpecker provides a valuable service to our ecosystems. Its preference for insects, especially wood boring larvae, is of great economic benefit as many destructive insects pests are consumed. Overall, census data indicates that populations are holding steady, although population declines are occurring in some areas.

The availability of suitable nest sites plays an important role in population distribution. Managing woodlands to retain dead trees and snags for nesting will go a long way toward maintaining a healthy population of these and other cavity nesting birds.

We certainly have plenty of dead trees out behind our house so I’m glad we never bother cleaning them up!

Fledglings’ suet standoff

Downy Woodpeckers' suet standoff

Downy Woodpecker fledglings are all over the place. I sat in a deck chair and watched a two of them eating the last crumbs of suet that had fallen from the suet cake holder.

Fledgling downies

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker.

Downy Woodpeckers

Fledglings have been fluttering around, learning how to fly (easy) and how to land on things (harder).

As many as five at a time are coming in for suet, homemade suet dough, and sometimes peanuts.

Downy Woodpecker

Parents are still feeding the fledglings, if the fledglings can get close enough and chirp charmingly enough. But the babies can feed themselves too – especially when the food is so readily available.

Downy Woodpecker

Figuring it out.

Flickr photo album: Downy Woodpeckers all over the place

Bird watching a(nother) snowstorm

White-throated Sparrow close up

One White-throated Sparrow.

More big snow yesterday. What else was there to do but watch birds?

Anyway, it was one of my two counting days per week for Project Feederwatch.

FeederWatchers periodically count the birds they see at their feeders from November through early April and send their counts to Project FeederWatch. FeederWatch data help scientists track broadscale movements of winter bird populations and long-term trends in bird distribution and abundance.

White-breasted Nuthatch

One White-breasted Nuthatch.

I bet there are two that visit our feeders, I just didn’t see them at the same time on Sunday or Monday.

Mourning Dove

Subtly beautiful colors, a Mourning Dove.

I like their calmness, as the other birds flit and flap. The most I saw at once: 7.

Downy Woodpecker male

A male Downy Woodpecker, black and white with a little red cap.

In two days I counted 96 individual birds of 19 species. Three downies, one male and two females.

titmouse

Five Tufted Titmice in total, but with the definite impression I am missing some as they move so quickly. Although not quickly enough for the snow. This is the first time I noticed snow building up on some birds! What a February we are having. And today is only the 10th.

Purple Finch Valentine

A little birdie Valentine: Purple Finch.

The state bird of New Hampshire looks lovely in snow. I counted two males yesterday.

Starling

The pestiferous though kinda pretty European Starling.

At one point there were 9 in the birch trees watching the feeders, as I stood on the other side of the sliding glass door and watched them. They are spooked by people, still, but I bet they will learn fast to ignore us.

They seem to eat anything but especially like my homemade suet dough. So do the bluebirds – who are not afraid of me. I scared the starlings away a few times so the bluebirds could eat too. I may need to consider a special starling-excluding feeder if I get too many of them.

This week’s Project Feederwatch totals…

Mourning Dove 7
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1
Downy Woodpecker 3
Hairy Woodpecker 1
Blue Jay 5
Black-capped Chickadee 10
Tufted Titmouse 5
Red-breasted Nuthatch 1
White-breasted Nuthatch 1
Eastern Bluebird 6
European Starling 9
American Tree Sparrow 12
White-throated Sparrow 1
Dark-eyed Junco 12
Northern Cardinal 13
Red-winged Blackbird 1
Purple Finch 2
Pine Siskin 1
American Goldfinch 5

Flickr album: February 9 snowstorm birds

Tree Sparrow

American Tree Sparrow, with its rusty-red buzzcut hairdo.

Steve Grinley: Bird Feeders Help Birds Survive, and Breed Successfully

It has been a harsh winter here in New England and feeding birds can certainly help them survive. Birds that have stayed the winter or migrated from further north to feast on natural seeds and fruit in our area will be finding that the winter supply of natural food is being depleted. Our resident birds appreciate the added handout that feeders provide. In addition to the nourishment that bird seed and suet provide, the birds expend less energy and burn less fat, helping them to survive the cold. A number of birds that don’t normally stay the winter or that may be here accidentally and are not used to New England weather are particularly helped by seed and suet at feeders.