Friday, July 10, 2009

Backyard Birding

Hummingbirds at our feeder in California.

Dan and I love to watch birds in our backyard. When we lived in California we had a hummingbird feeder hanging under our roof outside a picture window. CA has quite a few hummingbird varieties and our feeder was very popular. Sometimes we even had birds lining up for a drink!

Waiting in line.

We also had two special visitors to the feeder, a pair of Bullock's orioles. With their bright yellow plumage they were also so pretty to watch.

Bullock's orioles

Here in North Carolina we don't have the same type of house as we did in California and we can't hang feeders under the roof like we did in California. So Dan built a feeder stand for our deck instead. I can see it from the kitchen window and I love watching the birds while I'm getting dinner ready or washing dishes. The hummingbird feeder is pretty popular here, too, but what's really popular is the suet feeder. Some of our "customers" that enjoy the suet include:


Downey woodpeckers:

Red-bellied woodpeckers:

(This one is an immature bird that we've named Red-belly junior. He's a regular at the feeder.)

We've also seen wrens, mockingbirds, and robins at the feeder so it definitely gets a lot of use. Unfortunately, we also have a few unwelcome guests, including these fellows:

I know some people like to have squirrels come to feeders but we'd much rather leave it for the birds. When the squirrels come they hog the food, scare the birds away and make a HUGE mess. They go for the suet, the seed, and we even find them regularly trying to drink out of the hummingbird feeder, which explains why all the squirrels around us are so fat! They also perform amazing (or ridiculous, take your pick) acrobatics trying to get to the various feeders. I haven't been able to get good pictures of them doing it because they always see me coming but here's one I caught; it's not the best picture but it's definitely illustrative of what our squirrels do:

Pesky little fella!

Since creating the stand Dan has been at war with the squirrels, trying to find a way to keep them away from the feeders. He's tried putting the feeders on wires that the squirrels can't pull (when the suet was on a string the squirrels simply pulled the string up and muched away) and putting them far out from the railing so the squirrels can't stretch to them. The squirrels always find a way, however, resourceful little critters that they are. Now Dan has taken to leaving the hose on the deck with the water on and he tries to spray them as they run away. It doesn't deter them from coming back, of course (and they're usually faster than Dan can get to the hose and spray them before they get out of range), but it makes him feel better when he's able to make one a soggy squirrel.

Last but not least recently we've had an unwelcome nighttime visitor:

I took this picture at 2:50 a.m. one night so that explains why it's blurry. I was having trouble with the camera, or at that hour the camera was having trouble with me.

While squirrels are a nuisance raccoons can do real damage, including to your dog if you're letting her out at night and don't know the raccoon is there! Now we always make sure to check for raccoons before we let the dog out at night. We even take the suet down at night to try to discourage them, though as you can see some raccoons will apparently eat seed just as well!

Regardless of the challenges we always enjoy the feeders and watching the birds that come to them. It's our kind of reality show!


  1. i love the pics of the hummingbirds! we have set up bird and squirrel feeders in our front yard. it is so fun to watch all the critters. we have 6 regular squirrels and many types of birds. blue birds, cardinals, woodpeckers, sparrows, doves. the cats like to watch too :)

  2. oh, and we will definitely have to meet up sometime!


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