Monday, January 24, 2011

One Very Cold Day

At four o'clock this afternoon I looked out one of the bay windows into the yard and saw several house finches at the very top of a maple tree.  I wondered if they were trying to soak up the last bit of sun's heat on this bitter six degree day.  At six-fifteen this morning the digital thermometer in the kitchen hit me with the news it was sixteen below zero.  By seven, birds were at the feeders voraciously going through the black oil sunflower seeds.  At ten-thirty, the feeding frenzy continued and I was treated to a visit by a Northern Flicker. He ( and I say he because he had a moustache-seriously males do ) attacked a suet cake with his large slightly downcurved bill.  I took a lot of pictures through my porch door and spent my camera batteries.  I hope they turn out as I realized my dogs are responsible for quite a bit of slubber on the panes!  I watched a lone chickadee eating snow from a crook of a tree branch.  I felt guilty not having water out for the birds.  I know it's important that birds hydrate as well as eat in cold weather.  Eating snow uses up extra energy versus drinking water.  I ran out and put out a shallow bowl of warm water.  Yesterday a mole appeared out of a hole right under the feeders.  He/she just tunneled right up through the snow to the seed on top of the ground. It was about six inches long with a reddish colored nose and feet.  It never fully came out of the hole and was quick to pop in and out, grabbing seeds with its feet and pulling them into the hole.  Today squirrels have moved in under the feeders and I note that they are kicking seeds into the hole inadvertently.  One squirrel actually sat his posterior over the hole.  I wondered what the mole was up to in his snow insulated tunnels.  He better not be trying to eat my flower bulbs! Anyway, as the birds fly off towards the woods I hope they roost up together in a snug tree cavity to get through another cold night.  Stay warm!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Out and About: Round Lake Nature Notes: January, 2011

     I thought the birds in Round Lake had a “Secret Santa” when I discovered a suet feeder hanging from a branch of a tree on the Zim Smith trail south of the village.  Julie Galloway told me there was also a feeder on the trail north of Goldfoot Road.  They appeared one day in the middle of December.  Within a few days I spotted a chickadee enjoying the suet in the south feeder.  When I visited the north feeder, a downy woodpecker was busy chiseling away at the lard.  In a week’s time the south feeder was gone.  I did not check on the north feeder until the twenty-seventh and by then that one was also gone.  So who was the “Suet Santa”?  Or were the feeders put up for a science project, something to do with the Christmas Bird Count, or to take pictures of birds for a holiday gift?  If anyone has any information, I’d love to know.  I’ll even give you a suet cake!
    By the way, no worries if you’re thinking that the birds had extra food for a week and then they were deprived when it went away.  Studies have found that birds take only about twenty-five percent of their food from feeders when feeders are fully accessible to them.  The bulk of a bird’s diet comes from natural sources.  I have watched cedar waxwings, robins and juncos eating the purple privet berries off my neighbor’s hedge while ignoring the bird feeders.  Just today I watched White-breasted Nuthatches scouting up and down the trunks of the maple trees in front of my house.  I assume they were looking for insects or seeds tucked in the bark crevices.  They spent about twenty minutes doing this and then came to the feeders and grabbed a seed or two.  They are known for caching seeds under tree bark for later consumption.   So don’t worry if you can’t get out to fill your feeders due to bad weather or you’re away and they become empty.  The birds will eat elsewhere and after they forgive you they’ll come back when the feeders are full!
    This is the time of year Great Horned Owls can be heard hooting as they are seeking mates.  Pat, on Prospect Avenue, has heard them after midnight in the conifers on Albany Avenue.  Remember that the snow tells us what is around town.  I saw red fox, vole, deer, mouse, crow and of course, squirrel tracks in the woods and trail after the snowfall on the twenty-sixth. Lastly, my blog, has pictures of the suet feeders that were on the trail as well as updates on what I’m seeing out and about town.  Have a very Happy New Year.

Suet Santa

The pictures below are of suet feeders which appeared on the Zim Smith trail South and North of the village for a week or so in December.  I don't know who placed them there.  Perhaps it was Suet Santa!