Last two days

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Yellow-rumped warbler of cuteness.

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We were just leaving.

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Green endures here.

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By the pond.

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Across the pond.

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Titmouse.

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Garden, dog, pond house and mostly pond beyond.

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Yellow-rumped warbler v. maple.

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Yellow-rumped warbler.

Project Feederwatch #1

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Tufted titmouse on a Tuesday.

The first-of-the-season count for Project Feederwatch in my backyard was yesterday and the day before. Here are the grand totals of the most birds of a species spotted at the same time, over about four hours total of watching.

Hairy woodpecker: 2 (1 male, 1 female)
Blue jay: 2
Black-capped chickadee: 5
Tufted titmouse: 3
American goldfinch: 6
Dark-eyed juncos: 3
Downy woodpeckers: 4 (2 males, 2 females)
White-breasted nuthatch: 2
Red-bellied woodpecker: 1 female
Mourning doves: 2
Northern cardinal: 4 (2 m, 2 f)
White-throated sparrows: 2
Sharp-shinned hawk: 1

Sundays and Mondays are the days I have chosen for my count.

more on Project Feederwatch

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 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.

Back to the birds

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A Tufted Titmouse and Red-bellied Woodpecker share the platform feeder.

Posts have been sparse for the past month because I got an awesome little German Shepherd puppy and have been busy with him! Plus my laptop broke. Plus I have been sick with a cold that turned into bronchitis.

But I’ve got some bird pics to post and I will!

Tough and tufted

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Tufted Titmouse, a daily visitor.

When I count them weekly in winter for Project Feederwatch, I only come up with two to four. But I always have a sense there are more of them.

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They like black oil sunflower seeds, peanuts and suet dough.

They don’t hold still for long, so I find I have few photos of them though they are probably the number two most frequent visiting species after chickadees, their Paridae cousins.

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Spunky sprites, they have endured a tough winter.

Tufted Titmice hoard food in fall and winter, a behavior they share with many of their relatives, including the chickadees and tits. Titmice take advantage of a bird feeder’s bounty by storing many of the seeds they get. Usually, the storage sites are within 130 feet of the feeder. The birds take only one seed per trip and usually shell the seeds before hiding them.

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.

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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.

Peter, peter

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Little acrobat, the Tufted Titmouse.

Bird Watcher’s Digest: “Regulars at backyard bird feeders, where they prefer sunflower seeds, peanuts, and suet, Tufted Titmice are both active and vocal. In winter, they may join mixed feeding flocks of chickadees, nuthatches, and others.”

Peter, peter, peter, peter! is the clear, whistled song of the Tufted Titmouse. Also utters a harsh chickadee-like scold and a variety of short, sweet, whistled calls.

Listen.

Peanut butter suet dough for birds in cold weather

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Ingredients. And in mere minutes…

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Homemade suet dough for the birdies. A special treat when the temperature drops.

The recipe is from Julie Zickefoose, natural history writer and artist, via her bird-centric blog.

NEW ZICK DOUGH: SMALL BATCH

Melt in the microwave and stir together:
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup lard

In a large mixing bowl, combine
2 cups chick starter
2 cups quick oats
1 cup yellow cornmeal and
1 cup flour

Add melted lard/peanut butter mixture to the combined dry ingredients and mix well.

I made half a batch this morning. Smells pretty good and the dog thinks so too. He thought I was making dog cookies.

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Here is a titmouse pecking away at a lump of it.

It’s better to crumble it a bit more, which I usually do. Easier for small birds and also then bluejays won’t carry off a big nugget of it to stash and horde in their secret bluejay dragon lairs.

I put some in the bluebird bell feeder too, and on the tray feeder. Popular with titmice, chickadees, bluebirds, nuthatches, woodpeckers, sparrows and cardinals.

I store it in the refrigerator.

All ingredients are available from the grocery store except (unmedicated) chick starter. But it’s important to search it out at a feed store (or order it on Amazon like I did – F.M. Brown’s Encore Natural Chick Starter) to include high quality protein, nutrients and calcium. According to Zickefoose:

Chick starter is an extruded pellet that crumbles easily. It’s formulated to encourage growth and strong bones in young domestic chicks, kind of like puppy chow for birds. It’s got a lot more nutritional oomph than yellow cornmeal, oats, peanut butter or lard.

Tonight: snow and sleet on the way.

Update next morning…

downy woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker nibbles some dough in the cold rain.