Cornell Lab's Project Feeder Watch is underway. This season it runs from Nov 12 to Apr 7. Basically, you count the birds that come to your feeders - 2 days a week, with at least 5 days in between - and report the largest number that came at any one time. (If you see 12 titmice, then 4, then 8, then 6, you report 12.) The trickiest thing to keep in mind is that even if you know you had more individuals than you saw at the one time, you still only report how many you saw together - for instance, a male cardinal in the morning and a female cardinal in the afternoon is still just 1 cardinal.
So I've set up my feeders and submitted my first count. Here's who came. A lot of the shots are at the birdbath, which in this very dry year they are using to drink from rather than bathe in.
By the way, they ask about squirrels. I haven't seen any around my feeders. But these guys are - and one of them made me rearrange how I had them hung. I'm happy to give them water and don't mind them on the tray feeder but I won't have them emptying the seeds to carry back to their den. Lair? Nest? Burrow, I guess, is the word. Anyway, they hibernate around here and I haven't seen one in a couple of days. [cue music] Winter.... is coming!
Although the female Red-bellied woodpecker seems to prefer the sunflower seeds to the suet anyhow.
Not so the Downy.
And the Red-bellied does sometimes eat at the suet feeder, too.
In fact, she samples it all.
The Carolina wrens seem to be the main fan of the smaller seeds.
They like the peanuts in the tray feeder, too.
A couple of blue jays showed up yesterday, but the second one ran the first one away from the water.
So he went for the corn.
A White-breasted nuthatch and a Tufted Titmouse.
A Red-breasted nuthatch and a probably different titmouse. Red-breasted nuthatches are irrupting into the southern US this year as the drought has forced them to go seeking food outside their usual range.
Here's a regular visitor from the north - White-throated sparrows winter down here every year.
A White-throated sparrow and a titmouse at the water. Titmice are definitely the most numerous of my visitors.
A Carolina chickadee (second most numerous) at the water with a female House finch.
And then her mate showed up.
The bigger Northern cardinal scattered the little ones.
His mate at the sunflowers. Unlike the little birds, she can crack the shells with her beak. The titmice and chickadees will grab a seed, fly off to find a branch to crack it on, and then come back. The cardinal just sits at the feeder and eats them. It annoys the titmice, who try to displace her, but she ignores them.
(If you want to join, check out Feeder Watch online.