Sunday, April 12, 2009

April chores

Now that we've all filed our taxes (you have, haven't you?!), it's time to think about a much more pleasant chore: hanging out the hummingbird feeders. In the midwest, tax day is the cue to clean out the feeders, make nectar, and watch for hummers.

According to the hummingbird migration map, they've already been seen in Indiana, and as far north as Chicago,

There haven't been many sightings, but even a few are enough to get me excited. These plucky little guys are a real inspiration -- and a photographic challenge. I must have hundreds of photos of hummingbirds, many of them blurry, or showing just a bit of bird in the corner. They're a real test of my reflexes. I have a few that I really like.

Some other April birding chores:
--make sure the birdhouses are cleaned out and ready for new tenants. Some people put wood chips in the bottom of houses to give cavity nesters something to excavate.
--clean out the bird feeders. In Bloomington Indiana, the local Audubon society chapter hosts a feeder cleanout each spring, if you need help.
--we're hanging some new housing options -- gourds raised by my father. I'll post the results later in the season.

And then there are the gardening chores....but that's enough chores for one day!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Suet fiends

This morning, a male pileated woodpecker came to visit -- and found both suet feeders empty, in spite of our frequent checks on them. I photographed Mr. Big Bird, below, as he gave up and took off.

It's the starlings who throw me off; they're not supposed to be able to use the hanging suet feeders, but some, the big fat smart ones, can do it, and they gobble up the suet as quickly as we put it out. The yard is full of starlings these days, and grackles, and redwing blackbirds, and cowbirds. Only the starlings are considered an invasive species; the others belong in North America and are a natural part of the bird scene here.

The little birds don't seem too bothered by these more aggressive species most of the time. They just wait nearby until the coast is clear, then take their turn at the feeders. The woodpeckers seem to ignore them completely, unless large numbers of starlings gang up on them. Soon the starlings and grackles will move off into the fields in search of grain -- and good riddance!

There was a recall of some kinds of peanut suet due to the Peanut Corporation of America situation--the recall includes Morning Song, available in Walmart and other places. The FDA recall can be read here:

Thanks for reading!