Birds at the feeder

When the ground is blanketed in snow and frigid temperatures reign, it’s fun to watch birds at the feeder.

The colors of birds’ feathers brighten the view when flowers cannot. Red cardinals often grab the show.

A cardinal, juncos, and woodpeckers feeding as snow falls.

A cardinal, juncos, and woodpeckers feeding as snow falls.

Cardinal and juncos.

Cardinal and juncos.

I love the florescent blue of bluebirds’ feathers. The color shows best as bluebirds fly to and from the feeder and the ground below.

Bluebirds at the feeders and perched atop the pergola.

Bluebirds at the feeders and perched atop the pergola.

Bluebirds dining on dried mealworms and thistle seed.

Bluebirds dining on dried mealworms and thistle seed.

Woodpeckers abound at the suet cakes, performing an aerial ballet as they swoop from the feeder to nearby shrubs and trees.

Male and female downy woodpeckers, a male red-bellied woodpecker, and juncos.

Male and female downy woodpeckers, a male red-bellied woodpecker, and juncos.

Male hairy woodpecker (left), smaller downy woodpeckers, and juncos.

Male hairy woodpecker (left), smaller downy woodpeckers, and juncos.

Sometimes you get to see something really adorable, like this cardinal pair sharing seed.

Cardinal pair.

Cardinal pair. 

Other visitors include tufted titmouse, bluejays, chicadees, finches (house and gold), a wren and an occasional sparrow.

I plant many shrubs that provide berries for birds – winterberry (Ilex verticillata), holly (Ilex crenata ‘Compacta’, I. crenata ‘Helleri’, I. meserveae ‘Blue Maid’), bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica), lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium), and various junipers. Birds enjoy the berries of a few small trees I’ve added – viburnums (Viburnum acerifolium, Viburnum plicatum ‘Mariessii’), and dogwoods (Cornus florida ‘Rubra’, C. alternifolia). Plus, I leave seed heads on many perennials to give birds additional food through cold winter months.

But, when snow covers the ground and temperatures dip to frigid levels (-11 degrees F. over last night and just 8 degrees F. at noon today), it’s nice to provide a bit of extra food for overwintering birds.

It’s nice for the birds and nice for the gardener planning for warmer days, knowing that neighboring birds will feed on emerging caterpillars and insects come spring.

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2 comments for “Birds at the feeder

  1. February 14, 2016 at 7:22 pm

    Your birds seem to be sharing pretty amicably at the feeders; I don’t see any “None of you can eat until I’m done!” seed hogs here.
    It was almost as cold in your Connecticut garden last night as in my Maine garden (about -15). Last year, this would have been just another winter night, but this year we have been spoiled and it seems very cold.

    • February 14, 2016 at 8:07 pm

      Very cold, indeed, Jean. The high here today was 9 degrees and it’s just above zero as I write this at 8 pm. Some of our birds play the “You can’t eat here,” game. Some of the juncos are very territorial. There’s one bluebird that likes to oversee the rest of the birds and, at times, exerts his desires. Otherwise the birds are well behaved. Perhaps they went to bird nursery school and learned how to share.

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