My bird feeding hobby

Avatar for shirley_v
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-29-2000
My bird feeding hobby
11
Sat, 12-21-2013 - 6:29pm

For a number of years I've had a bird feeder in our backyard, as I do this year.  It's a cylindrical feeder on a pole.  I also have a suet basket that I've hung on our pergola near to the feeder.  This year, because i've moved the suet basket to this new location (when before it was in a tree but never got much attention there), I've had a number of species of birds come to feed both from the feeder and the basket.  By far the most species are the very ordinary and most prolific sparrows.  Quite a flock of them have gathered every day to visit the feeder - actually many times a day and otherwise, they seem to fly to sit amongst the branches of a neighbour's bushy evergreen tree when not feeding.  Then there's a couple of chickadees, and a lone Northern Flicker which is quite a large bird.  One year there were two of them, but now I only see one.  And now we also have a Downy woodpecker come to eat of the suet. 

But by far the most surprising bird that has recently come to feed on the seeds under the bird feeder is a ringed-neck male pheasant!  It showed up a few days ago!  What a large and handsome bird!  It pecked at the seeds on the ground for quite a long time, and left at some point.  The next day I saw it again but there were hardly any seeds on the ground so I went out to put more.  Of course I frightened it and it few off, up across the neighbour's fence.  I hadn't seen it since, and then today it showed up again.  Ray was able to see it, he being  home on the weekend.  Then the pheasant left though we didn't see where it went.  Ray then went out to get our Christmas tree which was stored all this time by our deck, to bring it into the house.  When he went to get the tree, the pheasant which turned out to be under our deck, was frightened by Ray's presence and came out from under and flew away.  I suppose it may be back again.  Who would have thought a pheasant would take residence under our deck?  But then it's obvious the seeds are a good drawing point for it to be there. 

We also have some jackrabbits come by...I don't often see them or it, but I see evidence of its tracks in the snow in our yard.  I guess it's not so surprising that many of these animals have adapted to suburban living...after all, they were here first before we so rudely moved in!

I've included two photos of the pheasant.

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Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Sun, 12-22-2013 - 12:46am

How beautiful Shirley!!  Pheasant used to be plentiful around here, but lack of habitat has decimated them.  According to our DNR,  it is not just urban sprawl reducing habitat, but also the national policy against allowing natural "burns".  One of the pitfalls for
pheasant habitat is grass that is too thick and rank. Even native warm-season grasses, planted to restore habitat, must be frequently managed with prescribed fire, strip disking or herbicide treatments to maintain some ‘bare dirt’ so broods can maneuver underneath the canopy..  In addition, "...Winter cover should have thick (grassy or herbaceous) overhead cover to provide refuge from winter weather and predators."

Perhaps your deck is providing the overhead cover the pheasant needs for the winter!   As long as you can continue to provide him a mix of grain seed, he might stay until he goes looking for a mate, in the spring.

Avatar for suzyk2118
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-30-1997
Sun, 12-22-2013 - 8:13am

We've had a very active bird feeder this week too - we usually do this time of year (no pheasant!).  We have lots of those sparrows too, and chickadees, cardinals, juncos, (and cute little tufted birds the profanity filter here won't let me type!!), and we can still hear our Cooper's hawk pair around (which unfortunately feed on all the other birds).  Our newer visitors (not to the bird feeder) are deer - terribly destructive but so beautiful...

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Avatar for shirley_v
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-29-2000
Sun, 12-22-2013 - 12:11pm

It still amazes me that this pheasant turned up.  It's a bit of a distance to the nearest fields and I don't think pheasants are long-distance flyers...i.e. they do short flights.  So this pheasant had to make short flights to eventually end up in our backyard.  I think the abundance of bird activity (the sparrows) may have drawn attention to our feeder for this pheasant. One thing I might mention is that we do live in the suburbs but just a few miles outside of here and we really are in the country...fields and farm or ranch land...so we are not so far from the natural habitat of pheasants, I guess!

When I lived in Montreal in an apartment with a friend (before I got married) we lived on the fourth floor and so had a bit of a view over the terraine nearby.  All around were other apartment buildings (not too tall ones) and also some two storey homes.  But just across the way there was a vacant lot - a fairly large rectangular lot with wild grasses growing on it.  One day in the summer  as I was looking out from our balcony. I noticed some pheasants in that lot.  What a surprise - there in the midst of total city all around, were pheasants living in a small patch of what might be called 'wilderness' - even if just a vacant lot in the city! 

Shirley

Avatar for shirley_v
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-29-2000
Sun, 12-22-2013 - 5:24pm

I saw a PBS "Nature" show about deer - how prevalent  they are in some suburbian areas.  Do you live near some woodland, Sue?  In a town south of here (like near the Montana border actually) and which is also in a national park area of Waterton Lakes.  Anyway the deer there are all over the town and if you want to keep your flowers from being eaten by the deer people have to cover them with mesh - kind of strange looking...but?  

I'm trying to figure out what the name of that tufted bird you mentioned!  LOL.  Maybe we don't have that kind of bird out west here...nothing of a profain nature of a name comes to mind for a bird...Hmmm? Oh wait, I did find it in my Peterson's Field Guide book!  Yes, now I can see why you can't type the name it...stupid software can't tell the difference...oy!  

This morning I saw a hawk or falcon of some kind sitting on a branch of our birch tree.  No doubt he/she was waiting around for some 'lunch' and that wouldn't be seeds, of course!  I couldn't say for sure what the kind of falcon it was - it wasn't as small as a merlin but otherwise, I can't say for sure.  It was mostly brown with streaks of brown on a cream coloured breast and it had a small hooked beak but in my Peterson's Field Guide to Western Birds, there are a lot of falcons and such like birds that look similar and a lot of the brown ones happen to be 'immature' as they point out...don't know if the one I saw is an immature or maybe it's a Prairie falcon.  Whatever....

Shirley

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Sun, 12-22-2013 - 5:34pm

At this time of year, we have sparrows, juncos, cardinals, blue jays, starlings, several species of woodpecker, and mourning doves.  We have Coopers in our yard also, and Red-Tails, both of which have plucked birds right off our feeder.  Both Barred and Great Horned owls have taken birds off the ground around the feeder in the early morning, or just at dusk.  The deer also eat from the feeder, using their tongues to lick out the seeds and cracked corn like they were giant ant-eaters.  That's why I stopped buying mixes with oil sunflower or cracked corn.  I was going thru a 100# of feed a week. 

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Sun, 12-22-2013 - 5:40pm
Sue's tufted bird is a t _ t mouse.
Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Sun, 12-22-2013 - 6:37pm

I don't put up a feeder but we get a fair number of birds in our backyard, keeping Coco busy for hours. She sits on the windowsill chirping at the birds that are so near yet so far away! The Indian Hawthorne bushes are full of  purple berries right now, and we have weeds going to seed year round in the so-called "lawn". I've left a pot of basil in flower for the hummers.

We always have scrub jays, mockingbirds, hummingbirds, and phoebes. In the winter we get a lot of white crowned sparrows. We usually sight an oriole or two. In the warmer months we have red shoulder and red tail hawks nesting in the trees across the street.

Then there is the scourge of my garden: the squirrel(s). I'm about ready to get a trap and try to catch them, and relocate them to the other side of Balboa Park. Used to be they just got into the fruit trees in the spring. Now they are into lots of things year round. I'm sure I complained here last June about it eating the blueberries. My zucchini plants were doing well into the fall, when the squirrel started eating the young squash. Then it ate off the tender growing tips of 3 of the 4 plants, once that tip is gone the plant stops getting new growth. I put a cage of chicken wire around the remaining plant and a few days ago the squirrel managed to bend the wire enough to reach the baby squash growing inside. Then a couple of days ago it ate the almost-ripe strawberries growing in the pot on the back porch. I'm about ready to declare war! At least it doesn't like kale or poblano peppers so those are undisturbed. This morning I saw a roadkill squirrel nearby, normally I would say Ohhhhh and be sad. Today I just hoped it was the one that hangs out in my backyard.

Shirley, your pheasant is beautiful.

Avatar for suzyk2118
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-30-1997
Sun, 12-22-2013 - 9:06pm

We're just in a suburb of St Louis. There's a park nearby but we've never, ever seen deer there.  Not really sure where they've come from (been around about a year).  We used to have coyotes - haven't seen them for a few years and that's a good thing with small dogs/cats around!  Foxes, owls, black rat snakes, red tail hawks, bats...  Where we are lot sizes are 1/2 acre to 1 acre so I guess it increases the chances of wildlife - we used to live 2 milles east of here and those lots were more like 1/4 acre - no interesting creatures there; an occasional opossum or raccoon, squirrels, rabbits and birds but that's it.

(ITA on the tufted bird - I couldn't figure out why it woudn't let me post but when I got rid of that word it was happy...)

Avatar for suzyk2118
iVillage Member
Registered: 07-30-1997
Sun, 12-22-2013 - 9:08pm
Yup, same birds we have! I love hearing the owls calling to each other...just something eerie about them...
Avatar for shirley_v
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-29-2000
Mon, 12-23-2013 - 2:01pm

It sounds like  most of you have a lot more kinds of birds (or that come to your yard) than we do here.  Last winter we had a flock of redpole finches hang out here for the winter which apparently doesn't happen every winter here.  So far I've not seen any so far.   I saw the pheasant again this morning - and I did see him go under our deck when he was finished eating his fill of the seeds on the ground.  Interesting.. I guess as long as I'm putting seeds out, perhaps he'll stay - at least until the spring and it's time to go find a mate, as Sabr suggested. I notice that no other birds will dare come when the pheasant is there taking his fill of seeds!  His size is very intimidating to other birds!

There are coyotes around here too, but they generally keep away from streets and such...mostly hang out in the unpopulated fields around here.  However, they have on occasion taken a small dog that is out walking with its master when in a park or field area just outside the city edges. 

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