Sunday, January 6, 2013


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.

Google again.
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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.

the Ol’Buzzard 


  1. I think that if you wasn't feeding them they would still find food somehow, and will have to one day when you kick the bucket. Meanwhile you just make it easy for them to feed, for your own enjoyment me thinks.

    The other critters should do fine for the most part, it's humanity that's in trouble. We have some squirrels in the area but they are not great in numbers and there's none on my block, just as well, the cats might get them.

  2. We have a suet feeder and a seed feeder with thistle seeds. We've never had a problem with squirrels here. In Omaha there were a lot in the neighborhood and some people would set up squirrel feeders. I didn't like the squirrels as they carried fleas which I react to a lot. I had to spray the lawn to try and kill the fleas.

  3. Buzz, I appreciate the link to my photography! Unfortunately, I don't share your "live and let live" philosophy about the squirrels... They tend to arrive by the dozens if I don't discourage them, and I simply can't afford to feed them AND the birds.

  4. Buzz PS: it's funny you have a photo or two of pileateds at your feeders. I've been in the woods this morning with camera in hand following the VERY loud calls of a pair of them, but all I got for my troubles were briar scratches on my legs and a lot of blurry shots of them ducking in and out of trees.

    I can't imagine having them visiting my suet feeders! You're a lucky man to have those photo ops in your own backyard!


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