I have often joked that I should be able to claim the local birds as dependents on my tax return. I go through a forty pound bag of black oil sunflower seeds every two weeks in the winter – and this doesn't include the shelled seeds and suet bars I put out during the coldest weather.
|Hard to see through the snow, but there is a Pileated Woodpecker hanging off the right side of the feeder.|
For years I fought squirrels that kept destroying my feeders. Now, it may be that I have mellowed with age or have just gotten lazy, but over the last three years I have scattered seeds on the ground in a quantity to allow the squirrels to feed with the ground feeding birds. Now the squirrels leave my feeders alone. Not only that, but the two squirrels that are wintering over come out to meet me each day as I refill the feeders. They are quite friendly and I look forward to their greeting.
Reevaluating my reaction, I have come to realize that like any wild animal the squirrels haven’t intentionally carried on a conflict with me, but are reacting instinctively to procure needed food. It is my need to control the environment and all the creatures in it that has driven me to squirrel hating frenzies in the past.
One of the denizens at my feeders in the summer time is a falcon that every few weeks swoops in and kills a dove that is ground feeding. I wish this didn't happen, but again the falcon is acting instinctively, within its nature. Who am I to decide who lives and who dies?
|Zombie turkey attack|
Normally, in the past, the only birds that wintered over were Chickadees, Nuthatches, Finches and Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers; but over the last two years I am finding birds at the winter feeder that are not suppose to be here this time of year. There are doves, blue jays, a cardinal and titmouse.
|Pileated Woodpecker - not my photo: from Google|
This year I also have two huge Pileated Woodpeckers that are regularly at the suet bars. I have had Pileateds during the summer, and know that they often winter over in this area, but this is the first time I have had them at my feeders during the winter.
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The Chickadees are my favorite; they swoop down, take one seed, fly back to a tree to crack it and eat it, and then swoop down for another. However, all these birds (and the two squirrels) are depending on my feeders to get them through the cold, snowy, windy, short days of winter.