Bird Feeder Survey – 28January2016

The number of doves at the feeders is directly proportional to the severity of the winter weather and snow depth. A few visit several times a day, but 20 or 30 might appear in the middle of a blizzard. Ground feeders, doves typically flutter to the ground, a few at a time, from nearby perches on tree branches and overhead wires.

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Feeding is fast and furious. Seeds and grain are swallowed whole and stored in an enlarged portion of the esophagus, the crop. This “whole grain” food will be digested later, from the safety of a perch in the trees.

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Sparrows and juncos, also ground foragers, swarm the feeding sites throughout the day. They seem to eat more than is physically possible, or necessary for that matter.

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American Tree Sparrow

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Slate-colored Junco (1 of 2)

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Suet blocks, a commercial mix of animal fats and seeds, are a major attraction. Just about everybody pecks at these things at one time or another. Woodpeckers are the primary users, but jays, nuthatches, chickadees, starlings and other species visit them too. Squirrels devour suet blocks in late winter.

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Downy Woodpecker

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White-breasted Nuthatch

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Red-bellied Woodpecker

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.

 

 

Winter Birds: the Red-bellied Woodpecker

I’ve been playing cat-and-mouse with a Red-bellied Woodpecker for weeks. Its feeding behavior is best described as a covert operation, designed to thwart any attempt at a quality image. Feeder visits are unpredictable, brief, and likely to be terminated by the least little disturbance.

Red-bellied Woodpecker with suet from a bird feeder (3 images); the busy background in these photos is snow-covered spruce trees; 2/5/2015:

RedBelliedWP5Feb15#034E2c8x10

Historically a southeastern species, the breeding range of this woodland woodpecker has expanded greatly over the last hundred years. It now covers most of eastern U.S. — and New York state.

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RedBelliedWP5Feb15#035E2c8x10

Photos by NB Hunter. © All Rights Reserved.