I love these fellows. They are timid and often hide in the bushes. But sometimes they come out to hunt for seeds under our bird feeder. For the longest time, I only saw one Towhee, but recently I counted two of them! I think they might be a couple.
This picture shows you what a year’s worth of bird traffic has done to the area under our stand-alone bird feeder pole. We installed it in our backyard last year. It was lawn underneath, but the lawn directly under the hanging feeders seems to have died due to seed shells and heavy bird traffic. There is a small area right next to the feeder pole that has flourished though… Apparently the birds have provided plenty of natural fertilizer! Anyway, I don’t really have any landscaping ideas and the birds don’t care!
Finches and Dark Eyed Juncos are both pretty aggressive birds.. It’s not uncommon for a Junco to get in the middle of this bird feeder and fight off every bird that tries to land, but today the tables were turned and the House Finch was winning.
About this feeder: I switched to this Gardman Hanging Feeder Tray after using traditional wood and tube feeders last year. I like the idea of a metal feeder because it doesn’t get moldy or deteriorate from all the rain we get. I also like the platform feeder because it’s easy to see all of the birds in it…. I found with hopper style feeders, the birds would just throw out tons of seed. I feel I have more control of the quantity of seed available this way. I just put a cup of seed in it every morning. I will have to admit that some days I refill it twice when the birds are especially hungry, or when a bird like a Scrub Jay decides to come by and store a lot of the seed in their throat for later use!
The Gardman Hanging Feeder Tray can accommodate 5-6 birds BUT most of the time there’s only 1-3 on it because birds fight so much. Pine Siskins seem to be much better at sharing the feeder than the other birds, so it might depend on what species you have.
About this photo: I have a lot of practice taking bird pictures… I’ve taken thousands. Practice is the key. But here’s why this photo “worked”:
- It was very sunny! This helps a lot! I have taken many grainy/blurry photos during cloudy and rainy days. Sometimes such photos help me to identify birds, but they are far from being a photo I would show off.
- I used Shutter Priority mode on my Canon EOS Rebel T3i and I set it to 1/500th of a second. I almost always use Shutter Priority when taking bird photos. If you have such a mode on your camera, you can practice and try to figure out what speed works best for your situation. I use a 270mm lens and use a minimum of 1/400th of a second. In general, the longer the lens, the higher the speed you will need.
- I used “Continuous Shooting” mode so that as long as I held down the shutter button, my camera took shots. Then I just select the good ones!
I walked around Point Defiance Park this past Sunday, during President’s Day weekend. It was a breezy and sunny cool day. The crocuses were already blooming, as well as a couple of daffodils. I was on a birding mission.. I am now recording my bird sightings and publishing on the eBird.org website. I did find a lot of birds and even got some good photography in. This picture was a big surprise when I got home and looked at it on my computer:
These Northern Flickers were flying from tree to tree together, checking out sap holes and picking on the bark for bugs. Most of the pictures I’ve taken of these beautiful birds are of them on the suet feeder, so it’s nice to get them in a natural setting. And my timing was sure lucky on this one!
There were a flock of about 180 American Wigeon in the “duck pond” and on the nearby lawn. The maps indicate that they winter in the Puget sound region. I saw them last time I went to the park (last month, in January) and there were just as many. They like to eat in the sun and the high contrast sunlight/shadow made them hard to photograph last time… Plus they fly away if you get close. But this time the less timid pair, pictured above, crossed my path.
I walked down the hill to Commencement Bay and found this pair of Common Goldeneye riding the rough waves during high tide… I had to get my bird book out to identify them. I haven’t done much birding around water (yet), so I’m not that familiar with ducks.
Why should I have doubted that the birds would come to my yard for free food? Could it be because they didn’t find my porch feeder before? The seed rotted in the tube.
That was some 8 years ago.
Sometimes you have to try again the right way.
It worked with magnificent success. This year has a been a busy year full of backyard birding. It brings daily doses of joy to my life.
Now I am going to share some of that joy. Here on this blog. And also I am starting to submit lists of the birds I see to Cornell’s ebird.org website. I’ve also gotten into data analysis over the past year and I feel that I should make my birdwatching discoveries public. For science and fun. It is fun to find out what kind of birds other people are observing. You can do that too over at ebird.
One of the birds I see on a nearly daily basis is the Stellar Jay. I’ve heard that they mate for life, and I think that a romantic couple live in my yard. They love peanuts! Continue reading