Monday, February 16, 2015

Backyard Visitors

The best thing about the big seasonal snow is being at home and watching the world go by from your window without having to clean the mess off your car or worry about driving on bad roads. From my safe spot I can see over the top of my computer what is a busy, busy world as birds of all kinds flock to the bounty we've provided to supplement that which nature is rapidly putting beyond their becks.
We have four feeders. Two are suspended on a vacant lot next door and are difficult to see unless you are standing at the kitchen window. They are exposed to the wind and elements, but ground feeding birds flock to them as small seeds fall to the ground. We cast a few handfuls around for their consumption, but the birds must compete with the squirrels for this food. On days like today the birds can search in peace because the squirrels are held-up in their nests awaiting the storm to pass.
The second feeder pole sits in a flowerbed behind out neighbor's garage protected from the winds and elements. It has hooks for two feeders, which defeat the best efforts of squirrels and are a constant source of food. This is the one we can see from our window as the birds hurry to maintain their body temperature during the storm. They have been coming and going since first light and will continue to do so until dark or the storm worsens.
While I have been sitting here keyboarding I've noticed Goldfinches, Nuthatches, House Finches, Juncos, Black-capped & Carolina Chickadees, Cardinals, Chipping Sparrows, Mourning Doves, Red-Bellied Woodpeckers, Tufted Titmouse, Ladderback Woodpeckers, Field Sparrows, Whited-throated Sparrows, Downy Woodpeckers, Eastern Phoebes, a lone Starling, and a Rufus-sided Towhee. Several of the above are not normally seed eating birds, but times of necessity makes seekers of them all.
A very rare visitor is a Blue Jay, which is seldom seen at backyard feeders, but he has made several flights to spear a kernel of dried corn. This is a sure indication that this storm will be severe.
As the congregation grows I can't help but wonder if birds have a telegraph service that sends out a message, "Hey food is over here." The way they cavort around jockeying for position it is also questionable whether anyone is getting much to eat.
We do not want the birds to become dependent on us as their major source of food, but we are willing to lend a helping hand when nature cannot supply their needs. We start filling the feeders about the end of December when we notice the natural food supply in overgrown fence rows has been exhausted. Then we keep them full until late April when we allow nature to supply their food.
The practice of having feeds has greatly expanded the original range of the Cardinal (KY state bird) as it was originally a tenant of bushes in southern climates. Today the feeding of birds has enlarged his range across much of the Eastern United States. His flashy presence in our yards is a welcome change from the winter colors of so many of our native feathered friends.
This calendar is a modern almanac given to friends and customers, besides the calendar is includes information for the cook to have on hand hanging on the refrigerator.
It is rare that snow falls almost like rain from 5 am until dark in Ono County and folks will be talking about it for the next 10 or so years.
We hope you enjoyed watching the birds and snow with us, it is never time wasted even if your writing suffers.
I don't normally post to the blog until the article has appeared in the Russell Springs Times Journal, but the storm of the season must be recorded in the almanac the day it occurred.


  1. It was a good day for my bird watching too. Blue Jays are rare for you? I sometimes have to shoo the bullies way. I seen your " vacant lot" from your kitchen window and it was lovely. I can only imagine it in the throes of a white, velvet blanket of snow with birds pinned at round its neck.

  2. Didn't you make a comment about seeing why we didn't get out much in the winter time. I do think this is overdoing it a bit.