Monday, January 12, 2009

A backyard for the birds

During our 24Days of Christmas, one of our activities was to feed the birds. In preparation for that I bought a Nyger seed birdfeeder at Lee Valley. It declared itself to be squirrel-proof and given our resident squirrel population that was a must in any birdfeeder we put in our tree.

And so, I hung the birdfeeder in mid-December hoping for the best. It was chalk full of Nyger seed.

The first three weeks there was nary a bird on that feeder. I was disappointed. Moreso than the girls for sure. When we lived for a short year in Peterborough right along the Otanabee River, one of my greatest pleasures was watching all the birds at the feeders and in our garden. I even kept a journal to record all the different birds that visited. There were a lot. I didn't do any of the work of attracting them. That was due to years of work by the neighbours.

Since then, I've wanted birdfeeders but hadn't done anything about it until this year. And then, nada.

Until a week ago.

I was in the kitchen when John told me to look out the window. The feeder was covered in birds. They were mostly sparrows I thought. Nothing against sparrows but I wanted something more interesting as well. And then, when I looked closer, I realized that many of them were finches, their bright yellow bellies dimmed by the winter sun. Hooray!

And then the squirrels knocked the feeder down. Twice. Off to Hope Depot to buy chain and clips and things that squirrels couldn't break. I re-hung the feeder and put up another one: a suet feeder. Now I was getting greedy. Could I actually attract a woodpecker in my urban back yard?

The suet feeder sat unused for the last several days. This morning a chickadee inspected it but swung back to the Nyger feeder.

To add to the complication, my neighbour's free-to-roam cats parked themselves above the feeder in the tree today scaring off everything for a couple of hours. When I finally hit bottom about the cats, I called the city to make a complaint. As I was on the phone with the attendant, I looked out the window. No cats but lots of birds. And then, lo and behold, a bird came out of nowhere scaring off the small birds. The larger bird landed on the suet feeder, its bright red head gleaming in the sun. My first downy woodpecker.

It must have improved my mood because I told the attendant on the phone that I would go over and talk to my neighbour about her cats before I make a formal complaint.

Let's hope she is reasonable and concedes about keeping her cats inside during the day so the poor birdies can feed without being pegged off. Unfortunately her cats have a killer instinct.

So, today I am celebrating my woodpecker in the city. So lovely.


Pam said...

Thanks for the beautiful image of birds clustered around a feeder. I miss our neighbour's feeder in Ottawa. I am always amazed by the variety of birds that stop by for a snack. Finches by far are my favourite though I love spotting that first robin. It makes spring seem truly within reach.

Julie said...

I'd love to have a feeder, but really, I wouldn't see much of it. I'd have to sit in the dinning room staring out the back window. But then again, a glimpse of a wood pecker would surely be worth it, no?

Shan said...

Isn't it so exciting when the birds finally show up? Glad you got to see a woodpecker. Good luck with your neighbour.

barbara said...

I have feeders on parts of the yard that I cant see them. I am very happy knowing these birds are fed and happy!
Thanks for the great images and inspirations!