Monday, November 05, 2007

Just like Mary and Jayne!

I finally have material to write a post like Mary of Mary's View does soooo well, a post with backyard birds and dogs and critters. My backyard does not have a pond, and I just have a couple of feeders. All summer, I kept only one feeder with nyjer seed as the squirrels will not stay away from other types of feed. The weather forecast is calling for snow this week (we'll have to see!) so I decided it was time to put sunflower seeds out for the birds. In the winter I get Chickadees, House Finches, Juncos and Sparrows (usually HOSPs only :-( I am afraid), an occasional Cardinal and that is about it. Downy Woodpeckers are around, but they are far more interested in my neighbour's wood siding than my suet offerings.

The House Finches came right away. After seeing a female or immature Purple Finch two weeks ago, I was hopeful that I would be lucky like Jayne and have a male around the house too.
Maybe next time...

The Chickadees are plentiful and so cheerful. I think they could be tamed into eating from my hand this winter if I sit out on the deck (in the cold!) I put some seed on the bench right at the back door and sure enough, this bird came right over.

The squirrels did not take long to appear. This little red squirrel was hardly bigger than a chipmunk and was on the feeder very quickly. The birds simply will not come when the squirrels are around. A big grey squirrel and a black squirrel were waiting on the fence for a turn to invade. Time to call in the Squirrel Patrol.

Dakota likes to be useful and his favourite task is chasing squirrels out of the yard. He did his job well and then sat at the edge of the deck vigilantly watching and daring them to return. He would not leave his post for a long time. He doesn't bother the birds and they don't mind him being around. The feeders were quickly filled again with our feathered friends, including this

Red-breasted Nuthatch! I have never had one visit before but I had a pair around all afternoon. They are not very common around here and usually migrate south in the winter months. The White-breasted Nuthatch is seen most frequently. I have only had a fleeting glance at one of these birds in the past, but these ones posed for many photos even when I was on the deck. They were not timid at all.
Mary's latest post has dogs and birds and pasta and ponds, and Jayne will be taking care of some of our migrants in all winter. But my backyard birding gave me pleasure this day too!


  1. Wow, what great photos! I especially love the squirrel picture. How blessed you are to have rich wildlife and walking areas near where you live.

  2. So glad you had this wonderful material to post! Those nuthatchs are cute and so glad you had them at the feeder!

  3. Wonderful photos Ruth! I have never seen a red squirrel or a Red-breasted nuthatch either, so you have lovely things I'll never see. The chickadee-dee-dee photo is adorable!

  4. I hope you try to entice the chickadees to eat from your hand. They are such sweet birds. Congrats on the red-breasted nuthatch! I usually have one or two each winter but there have been 6-8 hanging around the peanut feeder this week!

  5. Beautiful pictures - I love the dog standing on guard.

  6. A few winters ago, I had chickadees eat out my hand and head. I blogged some pictures here and here.

  7. PS: Been back since but we've never gotten so close and personal again.

  8. Awesome photos! I love all the birds that come in winter. We have bluejays by the dozen and some cardinals, as well as a few chickadees and of course sparrows and starlings.

    Thanks for reminding me that I need to get the feeder to help the birds out this winter. Enjoyed my visit, as always.


  9. Oh Ruth! I'm so happy your are being bombarded by the best birds! You managed to get Chickadee-dee-dee photos I haven't been able to get. Hmmmpf :o) And, I've been hearing of red-breasted nuthatches all over my parts of town but I have yet to see one! Your photos are fantastic. I'd like to know what camera you are using.

    Yes, those squirrels are hogs but they haven't been bothering my feeders for a while. There are plenty of acorns now for them to store.

    Jayne gets all of the birds and soon, you will, too.

    Snow already... get your camera ready.

  10. Well done, Ruth, well done indeed.
    Lovely photos--esp the cute little squirrel. They are so cute, and so voracious.

  11. Those red squirrels are so handsome - wish we had them here!

    Glad to hear you Dakota on squirrel duty - Luka's only just learning.

  12. Ginger- I am happy that most of our wild critters are furry and feathered, not scaly and scary.

    Monarch- The nuthatches made my day!

    Jayne- I cannot believe you haven't had a RB nuthatch at your feeders. I assumed they wintered in your area.

    Lynne- Other local birders are noticing more RB Nuthatches this year too. I have to look into a peanut feeder.

    Jean- A working dog is a happy dog.
    We all need a job for sure!

    AC- You were blogging before I even knew what a blog was! Your Chickadee pictures are wonderful. I love the picture of the one on your head. I will persevere with the taming of the chickadees.

    Mary- I have hardly seen any Blue Jays this year and haven't had any at my feeders for a couple of years. I do get Cardinals though.

    Mary- Hope you see a RBN soon. My camera has the same zoom and features as you Kodak, but I have a Canon IS3S. I have a 1.5X telephoto attachment as well that is great for bird shots. I haven't been tempted by a digital SLR yet.

    KGMom- Those little red squirrels took over my bird house and renovated it to their specifications before they raised a brood!

    Laura- The red squirrels are small and cute and hold their ground with the larger squirrels. Dakota has learned to pursue squirrels, but he is really good at leaving the birds alone.

  13. Your backyard birding gave ME pleasure today, too.
    And I like the little red squirrel. We had them in NY--not here in SW Ohio. I miss them.

  14. Nina- Thanks. The red squirrels must live in more northerly regions according to the comments. They are quite common place here. I really like your backyard!

  15. I had a chickadee eating out of the feeder as I took it down to refill it with sunflower seeds this afternoon. It was absolutely fearless; I'm surprised, as I've never made any attempt to tame them.

  16. Great photos! Glad you have a
    RB-Nuthatch. Maybe you could ask your neighbors for a piece of their house and then spread some peanut butter on it for the woodpeckers.

  17. Hi Ruth,
    I'm a little behind this week....that was a wonderful post! I'm glad you're seeing those good birds. I used to have a red squirrel but it's gone missing...maybe the Cooper's Hawk?

    To start training those chickadees, take an old glove and lay it on your railing with sunflower seeds on it (maybe set a chair nearby too). Then when you have a few minutes, periodically go and sit in the chair so they get used to you. If they start coming to the railing while you're out there, then you can try putting you hand in the glove to see if they will still come to get the seeds. It takes a little patience (which is hard when it's cold outside!), but I've always heard and read that chickadees are the easiest bird to get to eat out of your hand.

    Can't wait to hear how you do!

  18. Karen and Mike- Chickadees do become adjusted to humans very quickly it seems, especially humans who feed them!

    Larry- I think my neighbour's siding hides something yummier than peanut butter. Wonder what it could be? They like our house too, until we replaced the siding.

    RuthieJ- Thanks for the tips. I am going to make this a project for the season.


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