News from the Huffy aviary

Goldfinches return to the newly clean feeder! (© Huffygirl)

Even though the snow is gone for most folks, the birds still need and appreciate goodies from your feeder. If you still have your bird feeders out, you’ve probably noticed the goldfinches have almost completed their summer transformation to their full yellow uniforms. I hadn’t seen any goldfinches for several days and wondered what was going on. Then I remembered – after the 40 days and nights of rain that we’ve had, the finch food may have gotten wet. Goldfinches are very particular about not eating seed that might be moldy or spoiled. If there is any wet seed in the feeder, they eschew it. Today I went out, emptied the finch feeder, and sure enough there was a small clump of wet seed at the bottom. This necessitated scrubbing out and drying the feeder and putting in fresh seed. In no time at all, the finicky goldfinches were back in all their finchy glory! Goldfinches are the strictest of vegans of the bird world – eating only seeds, and apparently pretty particular about it. They probably also do a little birdy Yoga and only drink soy lattes too, but I can only guess at that. Since goldfinches do not nest until mid summer, you’ll see them pretty much hangin’ around the feeders for the next couple months, adding bright yellow to your backyard landscape.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak - not the one I saw in my yard, but close enough! (Courtesy of Wikipedia)

Today, I caught a glimpse of a bird I’ve never seen in my back yard, and perhaps will not see again. It was a male rose breasted grosbeak, who did not stay long enough for me to grab the camera. According to my bird book, the grosbeak is not a city-dweller, favoring scrubby habitats, so he must have ventured into town looking for food. Finding all the birdy restaurants closed, and no berries on the trees yet, he decided to stop by my feeders for a bite, but was too coy to stay for the photo shoot.

The starlings have been back for about a month, the urban gangsters of the bird world. They come in big groups, scarf all the food and scare the other birds away. Then they fight with each other over what is left. There doesn’t seem to be any way of keeping them away, although they do hang back if large groups of the better-behaved  birds are around, not unlike the “Samaritan woman at the well”  of the bird world.  They are especially greedy over the suet. If you have an upside-down suet feeder this will discourage them, as they don’t like to eat upside down. Otherwise, it may be time to put the suet away, if you don’t want starlings swarming all over your feeders.

Rogue squirrel baffles baffle! (© Huffygirl)

One rogue squirrel has figured out how to get up on the bird feeder pole. I never witnessed how he did it, but must have gotten up by jumping on the baffle from the patio. We’ve moved the baffle up higher and have not seen him back yet, so that may have done the trick.

Some people put their bird feeders away for the summer and let the birds fend for themselves. I tend to leave them out at least until June-July, so the busy new parents in the bird world will have a place to eat in between tending their young. If you’re getting messy shells and seeds on the ground spoiling your landscaping, try shelled peanuts and shelled sunflower seed instead, which leave less ground mess. You can also plant low-growing junipers under your feeder pole, so the mess falls below the branches where it’s not seen. Just be careful to choose low bushes, or the squirrels will use them to jump up onto the feeders. If you have a bird house and want to watch some birds nesting, you should put it out now.  Leave any old nests you see in your trees in place, as some birds return to reuse their nests from previous years.

Enjoy watching your spring and summer birds!

Mr. Goldfinch (© Huffygirl)

© Huffygirl


17 thoughts on “News from the Huffy aviary

  1. I have never seen such bird feeders that I can see in the first photo above. And the way birds are eating food from it looks way too sweet. But I guess they fly away if you go near them, don’t they? If yes, I don’t miss the whole thing.

    • Well, it depends on the birds. The woodpeckers, goldfinches and cardinals fly away if you get close. The chickadees will let you get within 1-2 feet of them before they fly away. Of course, after you leave they come right back, so you can watch them again.

      A lot of people here feed the birds, especially in the winter. It helps the birds and gives us something nice to watch while we’re cooped up inside in the cold weather.

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    • Diane, as you can see by my answer on your blog, I don’t have an answer. For readers who are wondering, Diane asked if anyone knew a recipe for a bird cake mix, aka suet cake mix. Here is the answer I gave: As far as an answer to your question for a bird cake recipe, I’m afraid I don’t have one…I buy good quality bird seed and suet from a high-end bird seed store, and trust that the store is only carrying food that is healthy for the birds. I buy a big tub of suet and drop spoonfuls of it into my suet tube feeder. The ingredients on the suet are “rendered beef fat, nuts, oats and corn”, so I guess the birds are not vegans as they don’t seem to mind eating the beef fat. As far as coconut oil goes, it’s a fat that’s bad for humans, so I’m not sure it’s any better for the birds than the beef fat.”

      • Sorry, this reply falls into the category of complacency… where most USA folks land. Huffygirl confesses not knowing the source of the suet or seed, which very likely comes from feedlot cattle and even China! Paying high-end prices does not guarantee the quality or origin, it simply feeds the retailer.
        There is much research touting the benefits of consuming coconut oil. Next time you shop for anything, ask where it comes from and if the retailer does not know, ask them to find out!
        If all Americans take the time, we can improve the quality of food in this country and bring jobs back to the US. If you really care about food in the USA, rent a copy of Food, Inc. and watch EVERY moment. Vote with your dollars.

      • Ouch! I’m trying to take this comment with a grain of salt and let it stand as is, but the stinging continues. All I can say is more OUCH.

      • I take umbrage at the inference that most US folks are complacent, and by implication, lazy. I stand by my premise that the bird seed I buy from my caring and well-informed local, high-end seed store is healthy for the birds. Not everyone has the time or ability to make their own birdseed from Whole Foods ingredients. Nor is this necessary if one can find healthy food locally.

        Although many contend there are benefits to consuming coconut oil, it is well-documented that it is a satured fat which contributes to high cholesterol and heart disease. I cannot speak to the benefits of which fats are healthy for birds, but for humans, coconut oil is a fat that should be limited. Healthier choices are olive oil and cannola oil

      • My point is educate. Do you still take for granted where/how your bird food is sourced? Do you know where your family’s food comes from. Take the challenge and rent Food, Inc.

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