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Winter has eased its way into spring.  The goldfinches are finding their bright yellow finery (perhaps inspired by Michele's outfit as she stepped off the plane for the summit).  The golden crowned sparrows spent the winter gorging on my greens, but now seem to have given up their butter lettuce in favor of just plain butter (they're packing on the fat for the trip home, and starting to look a little lumpy).  The mockingbird has been singing for three weeks straight (but I still love him).

The change of seasons is subtle here in SF, but it still means a change of routine.  I thought we could use this week to share a few tips on making our yards more welcoming to the birds.


Wild Grape is slowly establishing itself on the arbor - still no sign of fruit, but gorgeous leaves in the autumn!

My yard is very typical by San Francisco standards - 25' wide by maybe 50' long (half of that paved).  Despite that, we've got a bird-friendly yard, with various feeders, water and native plants to invite winged visitors.  Details below - these are great for our west coast, urban yard, but please add any ideas for different regions/habitats/birds in the comments.  Also, if you have good sources for seed, feeders or accessories, please share.


Inviting birds into your yard gives you a steady source of entertainment.

FEEDERS  

Sunflower/mixed birdseed:  Seed mixes will attract the widest variety of birds to your yard, but that may include some less desirable species like house sparrows and pigeons.  Feeding black-oil sunflower will discourage those non-natives (they don't like it much) but it does cost a little more.  Birds will toss aside the seeds they don't like, which keeps the ground feeders happy.  That's good for birds like doves, fox sparrows, towhees, etc., but it also means that you need to rake/clean under the feeders so that you're not spreading disease.  I have all of my feeders over paved surfaces to make the cleanup easier.


Regular seed feeder and thistle feeder.  The yellow caps on the thistle feeder help attract goldfinches.

Thistle:  Though thistle is more expensive, it pays off by attracting great birds, especially goldfinches and siskins.  Thistle needs to be offered through specialize feeders with smaller openings to keep the tiny seeds from spilling out.  One popular variation is the thistle sock, a mesh bag containing the seed.

Hummingbird feeders:  I haven't put out any hummingbird feeders for the past ten years or so, because we have a good number of hummingbird plants in the yard to attract them.  I recently bought one, though, and will be putting it up sometime this summer.  One important thing to remember - you don't need to dye the water red.  The red "flower" ports and other bits of color on the feeder are enough to attract the birds - no need to make the birds drink the coloring.

Suet:  Suet attracts some birds who aren't primarily seed eaters - birds like warblers and woodpeckers - as well as others who do like seed, like chickadees.  Starlings also love the stuff, and we have a lot of them in our neighborhood, so when we start getting too many I bring out a "cage" feeder (on the left, below) that allows smaller birds easy access to the stuff, while keeping larger birds out (unfortunately, that also excludes woodpeckers).  I'm lazy and buy suet cakes (usually mixed with peanut hearts or bits of fruit), but there are many recipes online for making your own.  

Mealworms:  I have never offered mealworms, but understand that they're great for attracting bluebirds if you have them in your area.  Any bluebirders want to fill us in below?

WATER

All birds need water, even those who don't eat from any of your feeders.  The water you offer is used for both feeding and bathing, so it's important to keep your bird baths clean.  (How do you feel about drinking bathwater?)  I have a very nice cast stone birdbath and a super cheap one that I made by putting a terra cotta plant saucer on top of a tomato cage and planting some salvia at the base to cover the cage.  Splash water keeps the salvia flourishing, and the salvia (as it turns out) provides a bit of protection for the birds - the neighborhood cat can't easily launch his sneak attacks through the branches.  I'm now trying to grow something around the base of the old-style feeder.

BIRD FRINDLY PLANTS

We have an assortment of bird-attracting plants, both native and a few existing non-natives.  I've made it a point to plant only natives for decorative plants since we moved in, but I did save some of the existing plants if they attracted birds, bees or butterflies.  Some are nectar producing plants that attract hummingbirds (and bees/butterflies), and some are fruiting plants to attract thrushes, waxwings, mockingbirds and others.  


Ceanothus - It attracts several kinds of bees, the butterflies love it, it provides a great place for birds to shelter - and it's so gosh-darn pretty to boot.  I understand that quail and other galliformes like the fruit, but we don't get them in SF.  Oh well.

Among the natives, the nectar producers include several species of salvia, monkeyflower and ceanothus (wild lilac); our native berries include elderberry, ribes (currant) and toyon.  Non-native bottlebrush attracts the hummers, hebes is a favorite with bees, especially the big bumblebees, and cotoneaster brings in the berry eaters.  When my other berry plants start putting out enough fruit, probably in another year or two, the cotoneaster will be replaced - I don't like the idea that birds are dispersing the seeds from this non-native plant, but I'm not ready to take the food from them yet.

Ribes - currants are beginning to ripen.  This is the first year they've borne fruit.

NEST BOXES

We don't have any, as our yard doesn't seem like a great place to nest, especially with all the free-roaming cats.  I can say this much:  If you're going to buy or make bird houses, be sure to follow the specifications for hole sizes based on the birds you're trying to attract - too large a hole allows undesirable species like starlings and house sparrows.

Next week, BirderWitch will be guest hosting with a diary on Chimney Swifts.  See you there (to learn a bit about some birds I know very little about).

Originally posted to lineatus on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 06:07 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I got you into DKU (11+ / 0-)

    about 15 seconds after posting it with 'Dawn Chorus will be up later'.  :-)

  •  Meal worms make LOTS of birds happy. (9+ / 0-)

    I was so excited to see an indigo bunting last year for a few days that I got some live meal worms.  (First time EVER for me and in my own back yard - I don't seek out birds.)  The indigo bunting apparently moved on - they migrate at night, by the stars.  

    But something was eating the meal worms, or were they?  I had improvised using the saucer of one seed feeder for a meal worm feeder.  I tossed in some bran for them to burrow in and added the larvae.  They burrowed down away from the sun.  I checked about twice a day, and the worms vanished.

    I didn't see any of the usual suspects - no blue birds or bunting.  (Blue birds are occasional visitors - we have "edge" habitat, blue birds prefer field habitat.)  So I spent some time watching and saw a chickadee come by, snatch up a worm and fly off instead of eating it.  It came to and from the same direction each time.  I went out and watched.  The chickadee would grab a worm, fly up to a perch, pin the worm to the branch, rip it into three pieces, and fly off with the beakfull.

    Obviously it was feeding chicks, so I tracked it and knew I was close when it was chattering angrily at me.  The hollow tree was only about forty feet from my feeder and I would never have found the nest if I hadn't put out the meal worms.  

    Chickadees are insectivores - they specialize in eating insects on the tips of slender twigs, perches that larger, heavier birds can't get to.

    Proud member of the Cult of Issues and Substance!

    by Fabian on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 06:22:33 AM PDT

    •  Instead of mealworms (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elmo, arielle, Fabian, KenBee, lineatus, MKSinSA

      I've handled this issue by digging and raking up a lot of ground. The birds love it when you turn over dirt or leaves, all that yummy stuff to pick through.

      So, in my yard, my cardinals are nesting, or I assume so, because Mr. Chip-Chip is always fooling around in the grapefruit tree, and hanging out with me while I garden, but Mrs. Chip is a lot of nowhere.

      The quail are back, running cutely along wires and walls, and lurking around the bougainvillea that one of them nests in every year. Soon I expect to see the adorable little lines of babies- we usually start with 12 or so (the adults take care of the kids in daycare situations, with the males doing most of the parenting around our yard.)

      I lost my male Anna's hummer last week, and was amazed by how rapidly his gap was filled at my feeders; he must have been quite a guy, because he was holding off all comers. All of my female Anna's are still at the feeder frequently, which confuses me; shouldn't they be nesting?

      My Great Tailed Grackles are amusing companions, and they combine with the thrashers and mockingbirds to sing every song, make every squeak, whistle, and call imaginable. There is just NO POINT in me trying to figure out who is in my yard by the sounds.  The curved-billed thrashers have been singing especially sweetly.

      My Back 40 has been claimed by two Black Chinned hummers, which is  a treat. He looks like he's wearing a tux. And all of a sudden, we are packed with the usual load of very tiny birds, some of them gnatting, some of them tweeting, none of them ID'd by me.

      President Barack Obama!

      by kate mckinnon on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 06:51:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Anna's nest year-round, so they may be taking (6+ / 0-)

        some time off.  I can't remember how it works in your area - I know some of the hummers have seemingly odd breeding cycles, timed to take advantage of the monsoon season, but don't remember the details.

        Or maybe your Annas have babies and they're at the feeder even more to keep their strength up while they are feeding nestlings?  I wish I knew more about hummers.

        They only call it Class War when we fight back.

        by lineatus on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 07:00:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Year-round? I have never heard that! (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          arielle, Fabian, KenBee, lineatus, MKSinSA

          We seem to have a pretty clear breeding season here, which started about three weeks ago. My girls, though, are hanging out at the grapefruit tree with the feeder in it all the day long. Maybe I just have SO MANY Anna's that I actually have 400 of them, and I'm only seeing each female briefly. Ha!

          I love Saturday mornings, sitting here in bed, with my coffee and my binocs, my sons still snoozling in bed, and the hummer  feeder just 12 feet away through the picture window. I feel completely happy.

          I hear a Gila (or a grackle doing his Gila) and cactus wrens and thrashers a lot of zizz-zizzing and chip-chipping from the hummers.

          President Barack Obama!

          by kate mckinnon on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 07:11:54 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  "female" hummers (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kate mckinnon, arielle, KenBee, lineatus
        may not be!

        Males don't develop their breeding plumage until they are a year old.  Until then, immature hummers all appear to be female.  It's thought to protect the males from being attacked by jealous rivals.

        I'll get male and females until breeding starts.  Then the female will claim the territory as her own and drive off other hummers of any gender.  After her brood fledges, I'll see multiple hummers at the feeder again, fattening up for the fall migration.

        Proud member of the Cult of Issues and Substance!

        by Fabian on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 07:27:03 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Chickadees are adorable (5+ / 0-)

      Nuthatches are cuties, too!

      http://www.sbac.edu/~werned/DATA/RESEARCH/journals/Excep%20Children/inclusion.pdf

      by TexMex on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 06:54:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I grow some of my natives from cuttings (13+ / 0-)

    In the greater bay area, we are lucky to have several good nurseries specializing in native plants, and the California Native Plant Society also has regular sales.  Right here in San Francisco, we have a great resource in an unusual spot - the HANC recycling center next to Kezar Stadium.  In addition to their recycling drop-off station, they have a large native plant nursery with a wide variety of species from San Francisco.  Greg, the guy who runs the nursery is very knowledgeable about the plants, which neighborhood they're native too, how they'll do in different areas, which critters are attracted - he's a great resource.  And the plants are very healthy.

    They only call it Class War when we fight back.

    by lineatus on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 06:22:37 AM PDT

  •  Good morning, and thanks! (8+ / 0-)

    I am still in the just starting to learn phase. There's not a lot I can do with my postage stamp of a yard, but you did give me a few ideas to try.

    Didn't believe I could open a diary of yours and not see one bird, though.  :-)

    ...to act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly... Micah 6:8

    by it really is that important on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 06:24:07 AM PDT

    •  My Uncle-in-law has a yard (6+ / 0-)

      about the size of my living room.  He has several bird houses hung from his deck and garage, painted in primary colors, and they are usually occupied every summer.  He doesn't have any feeders, but he does have a small pond (he uses every inch of his tiny yard).  I'm always jealous of his bird families.  He has parties, and the birds just come and go from their houses like nobody's there.

      Anyone could see the road that they walked on was paved in gold, it's always summer, they'll never get cold, Never get hungry, never get old and grey.....

      by minerva1157 on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 06:49:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  My friend has a tiny yard (15' x 25', max) (5+ / 0-)

      and a postage stamp front yard, but she's been able to do great things in that tiny space.  My yard is pretty small, too.  The main planted area is only about 25' x 30'.  The rest is paved or bricked, with a few plants at the borders or in pots.  Fortunately, we're across the street from a covered reservoir surrounded bordered by trees, and several of my neighbors have bird-friendly gardens to boot.  When all of that good habitat (by urban standards) is taken together, it helps bring more birds into the area.

      They only call it Class War when we fight back.

      by lineatus on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 06:56:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  For folks who feed sunflower seeds (8+ / 0-)

    it is worth looking into the hulled seeds that cost more, but no mess below. I did little feeding this year, and seem to have reduced the mouse population under the front porch by that act (the branch that the feeder hung onto got dead). And the Bigtop feeder in the front, well, it irritates the dog with the squirrel predators.

    lineatus, my lineatus in on the nest occasionally and I will be looking for young ones later in the month.

    Americans, while occasionally willing to be serfs, have always been obstinate about being peasantry. F. Scott Fitzgerald, the Great Gatsby

    by riverlover on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 06:27:18 AM PDT

  •  cover (8+ / 0-)

    A lot of birds like places where there are places to hide - dense shrubs for example.  Although less attractive to humans brush piles are good bird attractors as well (wrens love them).

    I'm not having any problems attracting wildlife.  The recent torrential rains in north Florida have turned our swimming pool into a temporary pond.  I've been fishing out frogs on a regular basis and it is full of diving beetles.  There was even a water scorpion - a really cool aquatic insect that I've only seen a few times before.

  •  Thank You (5+ / 0-)

    I really like the idea of the terra cotta saucer on top of the tomato cage with something growing around it. I may try that one. I saw tiny bluebirds the other day and I was elated. Always a lucky day when I see the bluebirds.

    I live out on a lake so the birds are many out here. The gray herons love water and I love watching them fly over. The woodpeckers love it here but they keep pecking the metal on my chimney--ugh. Sounds like they are drilling for oil and used to make me jump out of my sleep until I figured out what was there.

  •  Our apartment complex had a visitor yesterday... (16+ / 0-)

    Photobucket

    Photobucket

    "War is a Racket" - MajGen Smedley D. Butler, USMC(ret)

    by PvtJarHead on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 06:34:02 AM PDT

  •  going down to Texas after Easter (6+ / 0-)

    first thing i am doing is getting one of those big seed logs with a hole in the middle to attract the birds at our second home while we are there.
    Especially for the Cardinals....

    http://www.sbac.edu/~werned/DATA/RESEARCH/journals/Excep%20Children/inclusion.pdf

    by TexMex on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 06:56:57 AM PDT

  •  Nest boxes.... I've got some that'll work.... (5+ / 0-)

    First, it is great to see some photos of spring! Thanks! Looks like ours (NE Washington) will start on Monday (temps hitting the 60s). We had snow the last two mornings. This year was an all time snow record for us. I can't complain much though as I went skiing in a foot of new pow yesterday. Our favorite local area ski49n.com has free skiing this week too....

    Back to nest boxes... My spare time hobby/business is making homes for birds. A design that may work in your free roaming cat yard is the "Hanging Hutch" - with a 1-1/8" hole size or smaller. I can also make them with a slot rather than a hole so that swallows can get in but not English Sparrows. A Google search for hanging hutch should find me pretty quickly.

  •  Beautiful Diary! (8+ / 0-)

    WE have been keeping look out for the migrating birdies here in Oregon.  And all the twitterpated birds getting ready to do the mating thing.

    That passed by; this can, too. - Deor

    by stevie avebury on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 07:08:14 AM PDT

  •  scissortails are back (7+ / 0-)

    I saw the early scouts right after another diary in here. Is the length of their tail any indication of age? Since the mesquite and pecans have budded out I think we are past the frost risk. One of the perks of riding the big mower is that I get some company. It is amazing to see how they dive bomb the bugs that I stir up and follow me all day.

    After taking several readings, I'm surprised to find my mind is still fairly sound. Willie Nelson

    by cactusflinthead on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 07:12:24 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for sharing your yard (11+ / 0-)

    info and pics Lineatus.

    ______________________________

    And I'll share one of my raptor pics
    since I don't have any good yard info.
    Here's a Harris' hawk image from last
    month:

     title=
    Female Harris' hawk

    "When the well is dry, we know the worth of water." - Poor Richard's Almanac

    by desertguy on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 07:22:39 AM PDT

  •  Thoughts (5+ / 0-)

    Meal worms are GREAT!

    I get a lot of action at my meal worm feeder.  The mockingbirds, chickadees, and bluebirds all love it.

    Live meal worms are some work if you're storing/culturing.  They need to be fed and watered.

    Because I have such limited energy reserves due to my illness, I opt for "baked" worms.

    They cost more and likely attract less but the convenience is worth it to me.

    Do NOT buy them from the usual places.  Order them from UnipeckUSA - much cheaper (but still expensive).  I buy tubs.

    I have 2 bluebird nest boxes that generally have titmice in them.  LOL

    Do NOT put them close to each other because bluebirds are very territorial.  Small yard folks should only have 1 bluebird box.

    I have feeders of every variety, pretty much.  My deck is awash and husband only puts up with it because of my illness and the birdies make me smile.  :o)

    I have 2 birdbaths going right now in the trans season.  The heated one is still up but will come down next weekend.

    For plants I cannot recommend hollies enough.  Lots of varieties, almost every place has a local or adapted favorite.

    Birds love the protection of the leaves, berries, etc.

    Think of your yard in layers.  Tall trees are your topmost layer.  Then you need understory trees.  Below that, shrubs.

    The bluebirds are going to want open patch grass or ground for worms so place houses where that is visible and face the openings south for warmth.

    I'll go snap some photos to put up in a sec.

    My blood is bruised and borrowed. You thieving bastards. - ticks & leeches, Maynard Keenan

    by arielle on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 07:38:11 AM PDT

  •  Really liked the color of the exterior of your (4+ / 0-)

    birdbath in that twixt 'n' tween light.Somehow just got me , and kept pulling my eyes back to that picture.

  •  I live on the Blue Ridge in Virginia. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    arielle, KenBee, lineatus

    In January we began seeing a Peregrine falcon flying across our back forty daily.  He then began haunting our bird feeders.  He is still around.  I don't think they are at all common in the area and wonder if maybe they are being released by the park service.  Our property borders Shenandoah Natl. Park.  Does anyone know if there is such a program?  

    •  Is it possible that you're seeing a Cooper's Hawk (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      arielle, Fabian, KenBee

      Juvenile peregrines and juvenile coops can look very similar, especially if they're in flight and you can't get a good look at things like eye color (brown-black in peregrine, yellow/orange/red on coops) and wing/tail ratio (wingtip reaches tail tip on peregrine, wings far short of tail on coop).  Adult peregrines and coops look less alike, but still share the grey backs and bird-hunting habit.  Peregrines are not usually found hunting at feeders, but coops love to do that.

      That said, if you do have peregrines cruising by, it's also possible that they're on northbound migration this time of year.  It may not be a single bird that you're seeing, but rather a steady stream of migrants.  They might be a little more opportunistic than a resident bird, so might go after feeders.

      They only call it Class War when we fight back.

      by lineatus on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 08:44:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Pics (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ebbinflo, radarlady, KenBee, mayrose, lineatus

    This is most of my feeder set up.  As you can see, I also offer noms for the squirrels.  It doesn't keep them out of the seed but it does provide entertainment.  And really fat squirrels.  :o)

    I try to vary the seed as much as I can to get a variety of birds.  Tube feeders, platform feeders, fruit feeders, hopper feeders, thistle, suet - all draw different with some crossover.

     title=

     title=

    Here's one of the bluebird houses so you can see how I have it.  You want it away from overhanging branches as much as possible so snakes can't get to the eggs.

     title=

    This is a rooster for the chickadees:

     title=

    I also had roosting pockets set up for inclement weather.  It's time to check them for rot and replace if needed.

     title=

    I even have some in the holly and, yes kate, I got scratched!  LOL

     title=

    Here is one of the woodpecker boxes and the kestrel box which the starlings got in.  Yes, a ladder is required.  Fortunately, I know a guy.  ;o)

     title=

    My blood is bruised and borrowed. You thieving bastards. - ticks & leeches, Maynard Keenan

    by arielle on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 08:55:48 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for the info on seeds. I have my first (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    arielle, ebbinflo, lineatus

    feeder out and my birds love it. The squirrels are cleaning up the ground for me right now, but I will keep an eye on that. I was concerned about the seeds growing until I saw all the ground feeders and squirrels under the feeder. I appreciate all the information.

    If you aren't part of the solution, you're part of the problem

    by mayrose on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 08:56:28 AM PDT

  •  I'm a slave to my front yard feeder, (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    arielle, radarlady, KenBee, mayrose, lineatus

    it constantly needs to be refilled.

    This pair of House Finches comes every afternoon:
    Photobucket

    I can take this photo every day, the American and Lesser Goldfinches are always there:
    Photobucket

    I think this is a female Nutalls in my backyard:
    Photobucket

    Can anyone help out with this nest? It's made largely from horse hair, there are several of them at my barn:
    Photobucket

  •  Where are you and are you near water? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lineatus, Guadalupe59

    I'm not very good at nests outside the Pacific Northwest but I'll give it a try if I know more about the nest location.

    •  Not sure if you saw Guadalupe's response above (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KenBee

      They are in Chico, CA.  Do titmice make nests like that?

      They only call it Class War when we fight back.

      by lineatus on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 10:20:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The only titmice I know of are cavity... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        KenBee, lineatus

        nesters - found in Texas mostly. The only hanging nest we get in NE Washington are Bullocks Orioles. Their hanging nests are most often over water and can be grouped (3 or 4 ish in the same small tree). They are more common in central Washington where it is warmer. Their range extends down into southern CA (and into Mexico). In the spring they love to get up early and call from the top of trees. They can be pretty noisy. Later in the day (past early morning) they aren't as easy to find/see. I do not know if they reuse or refurbish old nests.

  •  CAT control is ESSENTIAL!!!!!!!!! (0+ / 0-)

    this is a wonderful diary post with fantastic pictures!

    we have been active birder/feeders/protectors - whatever! for decades

    - an earliest memory i can recall is of my dad trudging through the snow feeding the birds wearing a jfk for president pin {as a four year old.}

    Speaking of snow, this little redwing was chowing down in a freak snowstorm - on President Obama's Inauguration!

    Photobucket

    but CATS - are UNNATURAL PREDATORS responsible for the deaths of MILLIONS of birds annually - and MILLIONS of  wildlife as well.

    Additionally, CATS are  well documented with directly contributing to extinction of many species.

    i cannot believe people actually allow CATS outside without being restrained in some fashion! talk about irresponsible and selfish!

    CATS do NOT get a second chance if they venture onto our farm :-)

    Our birds, wildlife and other friends are way to valuable to us - and the environment - to be sacrificed to a CAT - feral or otherwise. :-(
    we consider any unleashed outdoor cat feral.

    so do your part for our wild friends - plant or conserve cover for the birds - YES! - but DO leave open areas so cats can be spotted by the birds {or you!}

    if you have a cat - keep it indoors at ALL times or if you let it out, it must be in a cage or on a tether at all times - it is also much healthier for the kitty to not cross the "sights" ;-) of an alert birder/conservationist - or his adorable "pootie" hunting pup.
    {28 as of thursday evening}.

    Photobucket

    first in Vermont, and now down here in NC, through steady, ongoing eradication of unnatural predators, we have seen our local bird and wildlife populations, grow, prosper and FLOURISH!!!  :-)

    please note - this writer, though a committed "birdbrain", conservationist and accomplished marksman, is not a hunter.

    time to repack the suet feeder!  - i make my own - couldn't be easier - and much cheaper - though kind of gross for a 30 year plus vegetarian .... and you can be sure I don't eat out of those pots!

    br

    •  Oh, dear, please remember that cats also control (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lineatus

      rodents - especially mice and rats. That can be very important, as those midieval cities that got rid of cats discovered.
      Now, with all that, I agree that the best thing fo cats life expectancy is to be indoor cats, as mine are. Farm people with barns tend to like to have barn cats, though, and I rather expect that keeping the mouse population under control will take up most of their time.

      If you aren't part of the solution, you're part of the problem

      by mayrose on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 10:09:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I can't get behind hurting the cats myself, but (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        KenBee, Guadalupe59, barry rosenblatt

        in an urban area the cats don't stop with the rodents.  They're present at seriously unnatural densities (no where in nature would you find 4-6 cat-sized predators in area the size of a city block) and because they get food from humans, they can afford to stay in an area even when they've killed off a large amount of the prey base.  And, at lower densities, they might get a handful of fledgling birds during those first few days when they don't know how to recognize predators, but in some spots they just wipe 'em all out.

        They only call it Class War when we fight back.

        by lineatus on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 10:19:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I couldn't bring myself to hurt the cats, as much (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mayrose, barry rosenblatt

      as some of them anger me.  I'd hate for the animal to suffer because the owner is an idiot.  

      It's tough to say what to do when they're in a wild place (vs. a neighborhood), you know that they're feral and they're decimating wild populations.  Trapping them and taking to animal control or a shelter is basically a death sentence because ferals are hard to place, so that's just putting the tough part on someone else.  I really dislike the trap/neuter/release programs, especially because they often seem to have feeding stations associated, because the wildlife killing continues and idiots continue to dump cats where "they'll be able to take care of themselves".  Even though I won't hurt the cats, I will admit to cleaning out feeding stations sometimes.

      For all the efforts that many conscientious cat owners have made to reduce the feral population, it just doesn't seem like anything makes a dent in the problem. It's disheartening.

      They only call it Class War when we fight back.

      by lineatus on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 10:33:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We just have to keep educating people. (0+ / 0-)

        Cats may get blamed for some things that they did not do, for instance, bunnies that wander into my back yard will not survive. My 11 year old wolfhound will get them - she is still fast enough. And, I hate to admit it, but she has caught birds on the wing that have ventured too low. She is indeed a hunter, still. Last summer a bunny built a nest under a bush in the back yard. I can only say it was far too stupid to survive and propagate. Wolfhounds have been in that yard for over 15 years - it has to smell like dog. I can't imagine why any prey animal would venture there.
        The smart birds never come down for wolfhound hair until the dogs are in, although they gather on the trees and twitter away in great excitement while I am brushing and combing. Hurry up, Hurry up, go inside!
        Then after we are all in and I am hiding away from the glass doors they will start to come down and gather it up.

        If you aren't part of the solution, you're part of the problem

        by mayrose on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 12:00:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Our two cats are the indoor only variety .... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lineatus

      The variety we keep indoors - plain old cats. Our dog helps keep the neighbors' cats out of our yard. Coyotes help keep those that get past both of us from getting much experience - I'm also a good shot who's not a hunter. We live in a shooting area (which it no longer should be - too densely populated for shooting - roughly a house per 3 to 5 acres). I use a pricey pellet rifle to scare the daylights out of the cats. We get along well enough with our neighbors that they know I'm only shooting to scare (they know I'm keen on birds). I wish they'd keep their cats indoors like we do - but.... Rome wasn't built in a day and the majority of folks in eastern WA are not the Kos type. Rather than lecture I try to communicate via example.

  •  I'm in an apartment now, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KenBee, lineatus

    so no feeders or good birds here.

    I've found that black oil sunflower seeds don't discourage doves at all. They eat them and poop them right back out on the deck railing.

    We rely on your donations to bring you sigs like this. If you contribute today, we'll send you this free T.R. tote bag. (-10.00,-8.87)

    by Texas Revolutionary on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 01:02:26 PM PDT

  •  Live webcam of a nesting eagle, here: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KenBee, lineatus

    http://www.dukefarms.org/...

    This poor mom has been on the nest all day as we are getting 50 mph gusts since last night.  I hope the wind stops soon.

    Having credibility when making an argument is the straightest path to persuasion.

    by SpamNunn on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 02:56:04 PM PDT

    •  Oh! They expect hatching to start today! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      KenBee, SpamNunn

      They only call it Class War when we fight back.

      by lineatus on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 03:02:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's why I shared this today (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        KenBee, lineatus

        My wife and I have been watching.  The wind has me worried  She is laying flat to protect the eggs quite a bit.

        Having credibility when making an argument is the straightest path to persuasion.

        by SpamNunn on Sat Apr 04, 2009 at 03:16:30 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Rats - screen is dark for me.... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          lineatus, SpamNunn

          (5 PM Pacific - 8 PM Eastern). I should have guessed that they hatched this early in the year. South of us along the Little Spokane River (NE WA) Bald Eagles were building a nest a couple of winters ago. I didn't know they did this until seeing them fly across US HWY 2 with sticks in Nov/Dec. The nesting was successful and they are here again this year. The nest site is about 1/10 mile north past mile post 304 approximately 15 feet down from the top of a 100+ foot Ponderosa Pine - on east bluff. The eagles often roost in a partially dead tall pine just south of their nesting tree. There are other adult Bald Eagles in the immediate area and I hope to locate their nest tree too. Bald Eagles are making a very big comeback in this part of Washington. I see them daily where we live and weekly to and from Spokane. We live 20 miles north of downtown Spokane.

          •  I knew about this pair at least two years ago, (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            lineatus

            but I purposely did not try to find their nest.   I spotted them fishing while doing some fishing of my own.  They are in a large preserved estate near the Raritan River, so they have a great spot to hunt and fish and lots of privacy.  No one can really get at them or disturb them, so this will be a good nesting spot for years to come.  

            Having credibility when making an argument is the straightest path to persuasion.

            by SpamNunn on Sun Apr 05, 2009 at 05:39:47 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Same @ nest site near our home... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              lineatus, SpamNunn

              the location of the nest is best viewed from afar. It was only a couple of weeks ago that I parked on an adjacent road to the nest tree property owned by the Washington DOT and walked to the tree. The branches are so thick in this Ponderosa Pine that at the bottom one can only see around 20 feet up. The nest is at least 80 feet off the ground and more likely 100 feet. The only way to see the nest, due to surrounding trees and the slope of the ground, is to be around 200 feet from the nesting tree - and that's the side of the tree opposite from the nest. The best viewing point is from US HWY 2 - at least 100 feet in elevation below the base of the tree and likely 200+ yards away (not considering the considerable risk of viewing anything from along a 4 lane, 60 mph highway). So, few people know about the nest site and fewer yet view it - unless with darn good binoculars and from a safe location likely 400 to 500 yards away. From the look of the ground below the nest tree very few if any people have ventured to the tree. I know WDFW has been to the site as I was the first to report it to them and they inspect each Bald Eagle nesting site. I think this site will also be used for years to come - decent fishing in the Little Spokane River and lots of road kill deer.

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