Thursday, January 09, 2014

The Birds and the Trees

This fall I put a birdfeeder just outside our kitchen window, a clear plastic feeder hanging from a tall shepherd's crook.  Initially not many birds visited, though a pair of cardinals would stop by and pick out the sunflower seeds.  Most of the birdfood was nabbed by enterprising chipmunks.  Mr. J put a baffle on the shepherd's crook that foiled the chipmunks and as the weather got cooler more birds were eating at the feeder.

We keep a national bird book and a pamphlet on Pennsylvania birds near the window.  So far, in addition to the cardinal family, I've spotted a number of sparrows (sometimes up to six at a time), a black capped chickadee, wrens, and a purple finch.  At present I fill the feeder around every three days, or whenever it is completely empty, with two cups of standard birdseed (song bird variety), and an additional handful of sunflower seeds to keep the cardinals happy.

The entire family (including, perhaps especially, the cats) enjoys watching the birds and see what types of birds visit.  I'm thinking of putting another feeder out in the yard, perhaps aimed at different kinds of birds.

In the spring the birds will build or refurbish nests and raise young.  Most of this will involve trees.  There is an interesting post on DailyKos today, citing research published in the Guardian, on the selection of trees in landscaping.  Chosing native trees is important because natives usually attract more varieties of caterpillars, which birds feed to their young.  Fewer varieties of caterpillars means less food for the birds.  Interesting thought.  You can read more here.

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