This week I’ve been having such fun watching the antics of the birds on the feeders from the kitchen window that I’ve been burning breakfasts due to the distraction. So I thought it would be entertaining to share some photos, albeit sometimes a tad blurry. (I’ve ruined my little compact from shoving it in my pocket the whole time – there’s a small scratch on the lens. Good job Christmas is coming up soon!)
It was a couple of weeks ago that we put the bird feeders back up along the edge of the pergola, now that we are no longer sitting out underneath it enjoying the sun! I know that our neighbours to either side have their own bird feeding stations, but it was still a surprise to see that some blue tits had found our new offerings after only a few minutes.
Of course, since blue tits go around in gangs, there were other brethren arriving in short order, including great tits, coal tits and long-tailed tits.
Long-tailed tits are my favourites, because they are so tiny, sound so happy and behave as though they are in the middle of having a party. There is never a solitary long-tailed tit in the garden, it is always a crowd, swooping from tree to tree.
I was just reading that when long-tailed tits huddle together on cold nights, two birds together can save 27% energy and three sharing heat saves 39%, so it is well worth them being part of a flock. They seem to particularly like to appear at the feeders in low light levels, at dawn or dusk. In this photo it was raining, with heavy, grey clouds over head so the effect was the same. I’ve no decent pictures of them I am afraid.
Word soon spread that there was a new eating venue in town and the chaffinches began to appear. Chaffinches rarely used the feeders directly, preferring to hop around on the ground clearing up any dropped bits. They were soon joined by collared doves doing the same thing.
When we added a sunflower heart feeder to the facilities, the finches arrived. They add a good dose of colour to the proceedings. They are impatient characters and tend to chase each other off to get a go at the nuts, so there are arresting flashes of yellow and red as they fly about the place.
You may have noticed that our feeders look a bit like Fort Knox. That is because we have big problems with squirrels.
Squirrels are very clever, dextrous and destructive and have been known to resort to throwing the whole feeders to the ground to get at the nuts. We’ve learnt to buy heavy feeders with robust tops!
The last feeder in the row is deliberately cage-free so that larger birds can use it. We have a greater spotted woodpecker who likes to come to it and yesterday I noticed that a pair of jays have started a rota to grab peanuts from it in a fairly continuous cycle.
The jays manage to extract whole nuts in a way that would be worrying for the other smaller birds.
So that has been my entertainment for the last two weeks. I’ll get used to it eventually, but it has been quite absorbing when I should have been doing other things.
One final thing before finishing this post is to say how important it is to provide water for the birds as well as food. The birds are as often on the bird bath drinking as on the feeders and as it gets colder it is important to make sure that there is some unfrozen water for them. We have ended up with two bird baths on the patio and they are in pretty continuous use, for bathing and drinking. They are a whole other source of diversion for me.