Headbanger

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Headbanger

Postby meteorite » Sat Feb 27, 2010 4:59 pm

My sister-in-law recently remarried, to a widower with a home on the shores of Georgian Bay. The area has lots of local wildlife; he gave her a new camera to capture it. Here's a recent result...
EdPileatedWoodpecker.jpg
EdPileatedWoodpecker.jpg (369.6 KiB) Viewed 10524 times
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Re: Headbanger

Postby Jay » Sat Feb 27, 2010 11:39 pm

That's a beautiful woodpecker. It is amazing that, after putting out some suet, they magically appear. I have two suet feeders, and I get Red Headed, Red Bellied, and Downy woodpeckers. The Starlings also enjoy the suet, as do the Mocking Birds and the occasional squirrel.

The Red Headed one also likes to munch on the black oil sunflower seeds, too.

The other day there was a large flock of Red Winged Blackbirds feeding off the seeds I throw on the ground for the ground feeders. My GSP was going nuts, whining how she wanted to go out there and chase them.
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Re: Headbanger

Postby meteorite » Sun Feb 28, 2010 6:33 pm

Yes, but the pileated is something special. We have only ever in all our travels seen two or three. They are quite rare. To have a nesting pair take up residence in the vicinity of your back yard is a big thrill.

You do far better in your selection of backyard birds than we do. In the last 48 hours we have seen, briefly, two of the four chickadees. Both the chestnut and white-sided nuthatches haven't been around for weeks. A few days ago we saw a house finch and the male cardinal, both in flaming red breeding plumage, and our regular little squad of juncos skulking under the bushes, but no sign at all of our mixed mob of sparrows or the goldfinches that sometimes hand with them. Nor has the blue jay been by, or downy or less frequent hairy woodpeckers. Even the starlings and mourning doves are avoiding us.

And interestingly, the legions of squirrels so enamoured of our feeder are not to be seen. It's not unusual to have five of them prowling the back yard at one time normally.

Don't know what's going on. Folks here keep their dogs and cats inside, and there's been no sign of feral cats on the prowl or any coyotes penetrating the neighbourhood yet. The usual hawk is on his usual circuit but the birds are used to him, and the northern shrike appears to have made his hit and passed on. We have no evidence of owls though I suspect they are about.

But it's the end of February, the ground has been quite open all winter (though it's snow-covered now), and our earliest birds should be coming back. We await them eagerly.
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Re: Headbanger

Postby Jay » Fri Mar 05, 2010 2:57 pm

Look what showed up at the suet feeder....first time I have ever seen one in person---The Pileated Woodpecker

Image


Sabaka wanted to go out and greet our new visitor!
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Re: Headbanger

Postby meteorite » Fri Mar 05, 2010 8:04 pm

I am sure the visitor enjoyed your hospitality, and hope he will return. They are such spectacular birds, though noisy neighbours. Maybe there will be a chance for Sabaka to try the greeter role later - if the noise gets intolerable.

The pilieated woodpeckers are very uncommon; we saw our first down by Mammoth Cave some years back, and one of teh area conservation area outside Toronto often has one. But they are scarce.

We have a number of downys come by, the odd hairy, flickers on migration spring and fall, and once a yellow-bellied sapsucker, but that's the limit on woodpeckers we have seen in or around our yard.

Right now any bird would be welcome, even the common English sparrow, as we are barely seeing half a dozen winged visitors a day. I don't know why and am worried.
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Re: Headbanger

Postby Jay » Fri Mar 05, 2010 8:57 pm

Maybe it's the unusual weather you're having?

The flocks of birds come about the same times every day. Every day @ 8:30AM, the feast is on, with many kinds of birds.

Last week, there was a flock of red winged black birds hanging around for the day. They must be in migration, as I usually don't see any until June, and usually a couple at a time. I tried counting them, but they kept flying up to and down from the trees...I guesstimate about 50 of 'em.

I'll have to get the finch feeder up and running..they will be showing up again soon.
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Re: Headbanger

Postby meteorite » Fri Mar 05, 2010 9:32 pm

Given the current weather, it's hard to remember where we are in winter. Right now we are getting maple sugaring weather, below freezing at night, a degree or two over during the day. But we're into to low 40s and, well maybe it's freezing overnight or maybe it isn't. The only remaining snow is is north facing, shadowed areas - our back yard is half bald and the rest is thin.

We are seeing one or two juncos feeding - but there should be six or eight. We are barely seeing any English sparrows at all, whereas coming into March they should be still in the feeding flocks. We have seen one male and two female house finches about; we had a huge incursion about a dozen years ago and they've sort of faded since. The cardinals still visit, but the mourning doves hardly turn up at all, haven't seen our wintering robins of late, the nuthatches seem to have wandered off somewhere, even the pigeons are rarely seen. When I take my daily walk there are rarely gulls in the sky, pigeons again are scarce, and the hawk makes no more than the usual incursions. It's very rare to hear a flock chattering in a tree, either.

After St. Paddy's Day we should see those redwings you're hoarding, doing their rust gate imitation on our tv mast. Oh yes, our starlings have vanished too; they should soon be joined by the grackles and cowbirds. Migrants can be anything, anytime; one year we had a Cape May warbler took a fancy to a backyard bush and he hung around for three days.

But with my daily walks I'm out as much as always, yet I'm simply not seeing the birds I'm used to - haven't even been greeted by the chickadees that mob our feeder that I can recall this week.

I wish I had some clue as to what is going on.
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Re: Headbanger

Postby Jay » Fri Mar 05, 2010 10:19 pm

You can keep the grackles. They are pigs. Empty my feeders in no time flat. I stopped all feeding several years ago until last summer, and they stopped roosting in the trees across the street. They are usually here in the spring, have their young, and when they all fledge, then they move on to where ever. ( Kind of remind me of white trash neighbors, which I am fortunate NOT to have). It is interesting to watch them, though...the fledglings sit around on the ground, squawking, and the parents react to that red spot in the fledgling's throat, and feed them.

We have a lot of chipmunks, too. They're stuffing seeds into their mouths like there is no tomorrow. It's funny when the dog surprises them...they spit out everything in their mouth, the tail goes straight up, and they run like hell, usually under the deck where the dog can't go.

There is that one squirrel, though, I may have mentioned, that has figured out how to get around the squirrel shield on the black oil sunflower seed feeder. I shall prevail, though....
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Re: Headbanger

Postby meteorite » Sat Mar 06, 2010 10:21 pm

You think?

We have squirrels around here like there's no tomorrow. The corner house next to us has five active nests in the front yard tree. There are a bunch in other trees across the street, too. Since free-running dogs and cats are not allowed here, they have a field day.

Our feeder is the circular wire mesh kind. They were able to get on it for years, and the wire is bulged out where they have been attacking it. When I have caught them up there I have given them a sudden spray from the garden hose, so they are a bit more wary of people now. It's mounted on the type of hook used for hanging flower baskets.

We tried squirrel guards, they laughed. For a while we half-split the four-litre plastic bottles I get my CPAP water in, used a clamp on the shaft of the hanger to keep them up, and sort of clamped them on the the shaft. It took them two to five days to chew through the bottles.

Last fall we got a roll of metal that could be rolled into a tube three or four inches in diameter which we put on the shaft, closed with radiator hose clamps, and hung from the clamp. Took them a week to start getting up that. So I got out an enduring lubricant, sort of WD40 clone, and sprayed the tube with that. After a few days of making charge after charge at the tube, only to get halfway up then slide inexorably down, they gave up. They still make desultory tries; when they look to succeed we put on another coat of Liquid Film.

Right now we're ahead of the game. But I've had far too much experience to ever declare squirrels defeated.
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Re: Headbanger

Postby Jay » Sun Mar 07, 2010 1:41 am

I hope the fanatical animals rights groups don't get wind of the Liquid Film. They'll be picketing outside your house.

They are determined little buggers, that's for sure...I have never seen a baby squirrel, either in a tree or with a parent. Do they not come out of their nests?
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Re: Headbanger

Postby meteorite » Sun Mar 07, 2010 10:35 pm

Oh, the Fluid Film is based on lanolin, not that that would stop PETA of course. :D

I have never seen a baby squirrel, but then I don't see baby birds either until they are fledged. There are a number of small frisky squirrels running about on routes different from those chosen by the fat seniors, so I think they may be the latest generation, though it seems early for them. But they are out on their own, with no sign of adult supervision or coaching.

Don't really know when they leave the nest but they are rodents so I suspect they grow rather quickly and after that are sent out to freeze in front of your oncoming car.
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Re: Headbanger

Postby Jay » Sun Mar 07, 2010 10:54 pm

Our woodpecker friend did come back yesterday. The wife and 12 year old saw it. I am going to have to compile a list of all the different types of birds that feed out back...might make an interesting photo album...it's not like I don't have the time or anything.....
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Re: Headbanger

Postby Jay » Tue Mar 23, 2010 11:46 am

Spring is here. The finches have returned from where ever they go for the winter, the robin are here in force, the birds are doing the aerial acrobatics that birds do when in pursuit of the female, and at least two of my six bird houses have occupants.

Plus, the forsythia has popped out and the big maple in the back yard has actual leave growing out of the buds.

I will be mowing the lawn by the end of the week.
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Re: Headbanger

Postby meteorite » Tue Mar 23, 2010 8:28 pm

Me, I'm still waiting. But our little chestnut-sided nuthatch finally reappeared this week, and seems to have a lady friend in company. There are single sparrows - one was a chip - but no flocks. There was what appeared to be a menage a trois of house finches - one male and two females. The cardinals are still around, and three of the four regular chickadees. Saw one mourning dove a day or two ago, but it was alone. Our little downy woodpecker has now found female company. And the juncos are becoming more regular.

The new crop of squirrels seem baffled by our feeder defences. That won't last forever, but the longer it does, the better of course. Someone was eating the buds off the first crocuses to appear, so we put an arch of chicken wire over them which will work mostly and for a while. The lawn is starting to show its first green, and we have dared to move the birds water dish off the patio and on to the grass. Our trees should be in full leaf in six weeks.

Meanwhile I am seeing birds in passage through our trees now and then, and a flight of migratory robins came by a few days ago. What are probably kinglets can be seen darting about, stopping for a snack on their way north. The ground even dried and firmed enough for me to bring in the Christmas lights.

So it is taking its time, but spring in on the way.
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