Feeding and Watching Birds in December

Thought I’d give a little update for those of you who watch birds and like to keep up with what other folks have at their feeders. I’m in Southeast Texas, in case you are a new reader.

Finally, I have been seeing chickadees and tufted titmice at my feeders. I don’t know why their numbers had decreased for a time, but I’m glad to have them back. Sparrows are here in abundance. I’m still watching for white-throated sparrows because they come for winter but I haven’t seen any yet. We always have the bright red cardinals and, although not high numbers of them, I’m glad for even just a few. The blue jays have left and I miss them. They are so colorful and sassy. I think they are hilarious to watch as they practically yell to announce that they are coming to the feeder, and then they try to act like they own the whole place.

Yesterday and today I sat in my backyard for a bit to watch for warblers and other birds that don’t come to the feeders. I saw a Wilson’s warbler yesterday and another bird that I think was some type of vireo but I couldn’t get a good enough look at him. I also heard an owl in the woods both days. Someone out there is waking up early!

I’ll be glad when the gold finches show up. They are close, so it’s just a matter of time.

In case you wonder what I’m feeding everyone, it’s mostly black oil sunflower seed. I put out some mixed seed that has dried fruit and nuts in it, but no one at my feeders seems to be interested in dried fruit and nuts right now. This reminds me that next spring I want to put a feeder closer to the back of my yard near the woods to attract orioles. Orioles will eat dried fruit and nuts. They will also eat oranges and grape jelly. My husband saw an orchard oriole last spring in the woods, so there’s hope that we can draw at least one into the yard.

I make up suet blocks sometimes with shortening or lard, crunchy peanut butter, cornmeal, quick-cooking oatmeal, a little flour, mixed bird seed, raisins and if I have them, I’ll add other dried fruits. There are recipes for this at http://www.birdsandblooms.com. You don’t have to have all of those ingredients either. I feed more suet in the winter so the birds can get the extra calories to help them stay warm. In spring and summer, I occasionally put crushed egg shells (from boiled eggs) on the platform. The calcium is good for them because it helps to strengthen their own eggs shells.

If you are new to this, just set up a feeder in your yard and put out some black oil sunflower seed. That is all you need to get started as most birds like that seed. And you don’t need binoculars just to watch them at your feeder. You may be pleasantly surprised at who shows up in your yard. If you see a bird that you don’t recognize and you don’t have a field guide, http://www.enature.com has online field guides, including the songs of some birds. Happy birding!

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