Friday, June 25, 2010

Birds of Every Color - Eye Candy

Birds and Pieces
By Billie A Williams

It's not only the garden that satisfies this woman's garden. A flash of red catches my eye as the Cardinal comes in for his turn at the mix of sunflower seeds, sesame and other seeds mixed especially for him. ( A rather expensive mix that I dilute further with black sunflower seed and wild finch seed because I have a universal feeder in my front yard). But the colorful display is enough reason to spend the extra for the entertainment of these beautiful creatures. The small brown to yellow female isn’t upstaged by her brilliant male counterpart. I begin to realize the tradition of men being the brilliantly dressed, wig coiffured specimen of years ago must be from seeing the male bird in his splendid plumage next to the often dull female markings. I’m tempted to say, she does all the work (bearing and rearing the children, etc.) He gets all the glory, brilliance of plumage. But I digress this is about the birds.

My bird feeder is alive with color from the brilliant yellow, black and white of the Evening Grosbeak to the muted tan, gray and off white with touches of black of the black capped chickadee, . I can understand the Cardinal color, from the fruits, rose hips and berries it consumes. I can understand the Grosbeak, gold finch and sparrow yellow, black and white from sunflower seeds.

I ponder the brilliant hues of the blue jay, the indigo bunting and the blue bird—what do they eat that turns their plumage blue? Is there something in their eating habits that mixes green and yellow and turns them blue? It would seem they eat the same varied menu as the rest do, yet they utilize the color in such a different way, Puzzlement!

A one legged blue jay visits our feeder regularly puffing himself up to get exclusive use of the feeder platform, where he can forget about balance and just eat. I am amazed as the nuthatches sneak in to grab a seed or two without disturbing the blue jay. The wood peckers in brilliant markings of black and white splashed with a red skull cap — males only have the red says my grandson.

A new kind of woodpecker calls us home this year a along with the usual Hairy, Downy, Yellow bellied Sap sucker we have a ladder-backed woodpecker the Red-Bellied one…too far north but who knows what the weather may have done with all the crazy storms and tornados hitting the Midwest this year.

So I will enjoy his color and inclusion. We’ve put a squirrel baffle over the suet to protect it from the black birds. You can start laughing now. Yes, that worked until the first one jumped up from the ground and found he could cling to the mesh bag regardless of the canopy of the squirrel baffle. And the added benefit he can eat while it’s raining or snowing without getting drenched. {grin} so much for my ingenuity.
We tried a new one just constructed by talented hubby. It's roofed, it securely holds the suet cubes available from a local hardware store where the woodpeckers can eat in peace - well, they could until the black birds --common grackles-- found out by watching the woodpeckers what they need to do. It didn't take but a couple days and they are happily emptying the feeder nearly as fast as we can fill it. Soon the babies will be on their own and then it will settle down. But that is another whole story.

Enjoy the beauty and entertainment of feeding the birds and yes, squirrels, rabbits and occasionally a deer or two visit our in town yard. You’ll reap a double harvest in your summer garden as they forge for food. Birds will be cleaning up snails, grubs, ants, potato beetles and other insect pests for you as a thank you for their winter feasting. And the bird bath - amazing antics--more on that later as well.

Billie A Williams
Accidental Sleuths Solve Crimes
With Wit, Wisdom and Chutzpah

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