Monday, September 29, 2008

Where Have All the Birdies Gone?

Well, I nearly thought every bird that played in my yard has flown south! Well, except the dratted Eurasian Collared Doves, of course. And I did discover three Starlings scuffling over who should claim the opening under the eve of my home. (yeah, lovely to have birds in the attic!). But for a House Finch or two I’ve not really seen a bird in weeks! Even my woodpeckers have disappeared...and I thought they didn't migrate!

Till this morning… Yeah! I’m so happy I’ve kept the hummingbird feeders out and about a quarter full; I watched one feed today. It’s almost time to bring the feeders in…but it’s lovely to assist the few who are still coming through.

Folks north and south of me have seen White-throated Sparrows, so I’m sure one of the first birds I learned to ID, the White-crowned Sparrow is soon to show up. I just love those little guys!

Looking for a couple pictures to post I hit Wikipedia and discovered there are two ‘versions’ of White-throated Sparrow; the white…and the tan kind. They are similar, but one’s head-stripes are more tan than white. Both are quite similar to the White-crowned Sparrow…but that bird has a grey chin.

According to the Stokes site: in the West, where I live, during the fall migration it’s possible I might see a number of warblers, too; and perhaps an American Red-start…which I did see last year here.

All photos on this post are from the free Wikipedia.


Bosque Bill said...

After reading your post, wishing my White-crowns were here, I was waiting for my toaster waffles to heat and decided to look at the mob of House sparrows and finches under my thistle feeder where who should I spy, but my first White-crowned sparrow of the season. Yea!!

Otherwise, it has been pretty quiet in Albuquerque's north valley - that period after the summer birds have gone and winter birds not yet here.

I have about 4 hummers still (3 B-c, and one Rufous.) The Downey woodpecker is occasionally seen, as is a Bewick's wren, a couple Black-capped chickadees and White-breasted nuthatches. Oh, and still plenty of Lesser Goldfinches; I don't expect American GF for another month or a bit more.

There is still a mob of HoSp and I'm hoping they thin out when it gets really cold.

I've heard lots more goose activity late at night than usual, so I'm guessing they are beginning to pass through.

Beverly said...

LOL Lucky you! I scrubbed and disinfected all my feeders this weekend...and plan to make a run up to Pueblo for some seed (and other stuff I’ve listed for a month, now.) While I can get some seed at the local Feed-store...they don't seem able to get Safflower and generally prefer to sell mixed seed, anyway. I want to find some millet…though I did add several such plants the other day; big, native millet. It might be too wet in my yard, though; the water table is pretty high here, next to the river.

So far, I've planted several each of privet, sumac, different Viburnum bushes, more Chokecherry and High-bush Cranberry, honeysuckle, tall native grasses, Kinnickinnick, Creeping Mahonia and a large Hawthorn and a few evergreens... they are not yet as big as the existing berry-producing shrubs, Buffalo Currant, Virginia-creeper [wince], wild plums, cherry (two...which the birds LOVE), willow, maple, cottonwood and aspen that were already in my yard and up and down the river. I have one nice-sized Blue-spruce and also see several huge evergreens around the area. I figure it’s pretty much a little birding-haven…but I’m going to make it paradise! LOL

You’ve probably seen pictures of the native-perennial garden I’ve created…the hummers love the various Penstemon and birds, bees and butterflies alike adore the Bee Balm, Butterfly bush, Columbine, Foxglove, Lupine, Verbena and several different cone-flower and thistle types I grow, interspersed with dwarf mugo pines. I’ve also planted several Purple-leafed Sand cherries, and some elderberry and even a mock-orange. I want to find some Nine-bark, a Pinion Pine or two and some Gamble Oak, as well. I have a good-sized red raspberry patch…but seldom see birds in it, perhaps because the snakes like the denseness of the cover, too?

I'm looking for a small dog-wood or a couple small-fruiting trees or maybe dwarf River-birch (trees in the max: 15-20'-size) to create a little deciduous-woods area. There are several very old apple tries around the edges of the yard…but I removed three huge ones that produced bushels and bushels of gawd-awful, big, mushy apples the wasps liked. I want fruiting trees I don’t have to pick-up after! LOL

Lordy, and I do wish I had the money to create the pond...I'm tired of the huge, bricked hole (where the root-cellar was) and know a nice pond would be a birding/wildlife plus. Hopefully, I’ll end up with an easy-care yard almost as wild as your bosque!

I noticed you saw a Thrasher in your apple tree; Awesome! The only one I've ever seen was a Brown Thrasher...which was stunning.

Bosque Bill said...

Wow! I'm exhausted just reading about all the trees and shrubs and plants you've added to your yard. Sounds like a wonderful variety, too. That's fantastic!!!

Have you, or are you ready, to have your yard Wildlife Certified by the National Wildlife Federation?

From their web site:

Join the thousands of wildlife enthusiasts across the country who have been recognized for creating havens for neighborhood wildlife in their very own yards. These individuals have provided the essential elements for healthy and sustainable wildlife habitats and have earned the distinction of being part of National Wildlife Federation’s Certified Wildlife Habitat™ program.

When you certify with your application fee of $15, you’ll receive all these great benefits:

* A personalized certificate that recognizes your NWF Certified Wildlife Habitat™.
* A free NWF membership which includes a full year’s subscription to the award-winning National Wildlife® magazine.
* A free subscription to the quarterly e-newsletter, Habitats, full of insightful tips and information on gardening and attracting wildlife year after year.
* Your name listed in NWF’s National registry of certified habitats…to recognize all you’ve done for wildlife.

And, once you complete your application, you’ll be eligible to purchase the “wildly” popular Certified Wildlife Habitat™ yard sign that shows your commitment to conserving wildlife.

I just certified mine and went ahead and spent the extra $25 for the 9"x12" aluminum yard sign. What the heck; it's for a good cause and might encourage others... any takers?

Beverly said...

LOL Mine is a work in progress.

While I didn’t mention every single plant I’ve planted…and while I AM conducting ‘turf-wars’, as I call it; where I dig up large patches of lawn and replace it with native-planted areas, I did not mention the old strawberry patch I inherited that is so overgrown with grass and wild, spreading herbs, I seldom even see a berry. I didn’t mention the blasted bindweed I fight with, or the damn suckering roses that seem to come from everywhere. Ever so slowly I’m replacing such areas with easier to care for shrubs and small trees, planted in groups and ‘faced down’ with smaller shrubs to offer little islands of seemingly ‘wild’ areas that I insist are multi-purpose…laced with smaller patches and trails of lawn…designed to be ‘easy mow’. All must require little to no attention other than occasional watering, offer good-looks over several seasons, and must offer some sort of benefit to wildlife in the way of flowers, berries or shelter. It’s actually pretty easy; native plants are easy-care…because they’re growing on their home-turf, and also because of that fact…they have evolved over time to be of benefit to something that evolved right along with them. I was astounded to discover some ‘exotic’ plant from Europe might feed a variety of several hundred critters but here in the states, only half a dozen may take be able to benefit from it. And ‘exotic’ species need more water and often ‘special care’ in the way of soil-changing additives, fertilizers and insecticides to fight insects it didn’t evolve with and that might overwhelm the plant.

Yesterday I spent over $100 I didn’t have a couple 50# sacks of seed (from a seed/feed/mill)and a couple new (squirrel-proof) birdfeeders (ya gotta love Target!) I keep running across the idea of certifying my yard, or becoming a citizen-scientist of some sort…even if it’s just reporting the birds I see; but so far…I keep finding other things to spend my money on that benefits the critters.

I had never considered that ‘evangelizing’ would be a benefit, too; I like the way you think! I already offer bird-baths here and there around the yard…in the wintertime I keep one I can clean, thaw and add water to every morning, right outside my back door. The birds love it. But, perhaps I’ll wait till I get my pond created before I actually make such a statement as declaring my place a Certified Wildlife Habitat (that ugly hole really bothers me!) In the meantime, I’ll continue NOT using chemicals, planting native plants, being happy with the grassy ‘wild’ areas on the edges and taking care of ‘my birds’. And I will evangelize! :) Someday, I’ll hang that sign on my gate

Congratulations to YOU for doing so, already!

Bosque Bill said...

I bet if you follow the NWF link, you will discover that you already qualify for certification... whether you want to spent the $15 for the privilege is your decision, but may actually be an incentive for some folks... you are already doing the right thing.

My lawn is bindweed! HA! Unfortunately, where I am is old agricultural land, so it doesn't matter what I plant the area will be infested with invasives. I'm trying to get better with patches of mulch (with weed-block paper underneath.)

My birdbath has an integrated heater to keep it ice free in winter. I discovered the bi-metallic thermostats they all use are at best a compromise... they turn on at just above freezing, but don't turn off until the temp reaches nearly 50. Well, that means it would just stay on even on mild winter days, so I put one of those cheap clock-works timers on the extension cord that runs to the bath heater and set it to go on at around 4am and off at 10am (your mileage my vary.) On bitter cold days, I use the timer's bypass switch to keep it on.

Beverly said...

Oh yes, I’m quite sure I qualify…and, because of you, I realize a sign just might move people to do the same. I meant it when I said you just taught me ‘Evangelize’ is not a bad word! LOL

Yes, large swaths of my lawn are bindweed, dandelion and some sort of wide-leaved, rosette-whorled, spiky-seeded thing…I dunno what it’s called, but it can be big and it’s spreading. I recently read that over seeding (top seeding?) a lawn and then lightly mulching it will help the grass take a better hold. I’m loath to give it a try, however…till I better determine WHAT will be lawn and what will not.

I’d like to find a way to use solar on a birdbath I already have…to not only keep it thawed, but also, perhaps, to run a little pump that might create a bit of movement within the water; a drip maybe. I have no outside electrical outlets, and don’t want to be running extension cords through windows with it gets below zero at night and blizzards blow now and then. A solar heated little bit of water would still be possible…we have 350 days of sunshine, after all; but the cost of buying them already set up, is prohibitive. I’d settle for just keeping the water liquid…but shouldn’t I be able to find a little solar pump of some kind? Heck, when I lived in my cabin in da woods…it was a solar-driven pump which drew water up the well to the cistern!

Ha! Look what I just found:

Perhaps what I need to find are solar-powered batteries…and then some way to plug in my various devices? Hummmmmmmmmmmmmmm… very interesting. I don’t wanna pay $250 for somebody else’s bird bath design. Yanno? I just want the heater/pump. Now I know it can be done!!! Oh joy, MORE things to save my money for…keeping in mind my new bathroom floor-tiles were just dug up, I have holes in the bathroom & living room floors and still no sink back in the bathroom. And…my ‘retirement’ just took an 800-point hit that I cannot afford! Sheeshhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

But yes, while I thought I was just ignoring what would be an ego-booster to me, I can see it IS a good idea to get the NWF certification and sign. I’ll do it…one of these days! GREAT IDEA!

Bosque Bill said...

You are already being an Evangelical Environmentalist just with your blog!

I looked at those little solar-powered "fountains" last year before I bought my heated bath. I was interested until I read several comments that complained they didn't work very well except maybe at mid-day.

I've seen "wigglers" that supposedly keep ice from forming on top of a birdbath, but seems that wouldn't work when it really got cold.

Seems like I also saw some sort of solar reflective heater, but those don't work too good at night!

You may be better off with just what you are doing now.

Beverly said...

Now see…THAT’s why I wish I was more of an inventor or knew more about how to build stuff.

The pump at my cabin was attached to a golf-cart battery that was charged by a single solar panel. Surely there is a way to do something like that and attach it to a ‘reasonable’ little heater & pump …that would store enough juice to last through the night. Yeah, I noticed the solar-fountain was only a fountain and not a heater, but someone who knows such things should be able to build one that is BOTH.

Dang, now they have solar-rechargeable batteries…even backpacks that are solar and charge electronic devices…why not something like this?

You’re right…in the middle of the night ‘moving water’…from a wiggler, a fountain or even a little waterfall, will freeze (unless it’s deeper than 3’ like my pond was)…and probably burn up the pump, too. Yeah, in the dead of winter, I boil a pot of water every morning to take out and thaw-rinse-fill up at least one water-dish. Hummmmmmmm… you’re an inventer, arencha? ;)

LOL Yeah…Evangelical Environmentalist: it’s probably ruining my ‘bird blog’ too; I notice most people try not to get evolved with my ranting on cats or water issues! LOL I should stick to birds! (but I do love to read Bootstrap-Analysis …have you read the blog? She’s great)