Blog: My Feathery Friends

By The Old Farmer's Almanac
Sep 21, 2017
Downy Woodpecker


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Through the summer, I have suet hanging on a hook on my deck next to the hummingbird feeder. I can see the feeders from my kitchen table and have enjoyed the best bird watching in years.

In addition to many hummingbirds, a downy woodpecker family has visited my deck every day. The mother and father have been taking such good care of the two babies (teenagers now). I have heard the hungry shrill screeches for food and seen mommy or daddy hurry to get some suet in their beaks to feed the starving youngsters. Now as teenagers they can help themselves to the suet, but if one of the parents is close by they still beg for food and the parent obliges.

I have also seen chickadees, gold finches, and starlings come to my deck but it has been all about the woodpeckers in the summer.

What birds do you see in your backyard?

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I live in Sussex, UK across

I live in Sussex, UK across the pond. We do not have the beautiful birds you have but still value their company. I save all the fat from cooking meat during the summer and put it in the freezer. then in Winter I take large fir cones, melt the fat down, dip the cones in and when they have cooled hang them on the trees for the birds. There isn't a bird that turns it's beak up at them. Also I add suet and bird seed to the fat and put it out in trays for the groundfeeders. All the fat is gone by spring and I start all over again.It cheers me that the birds are helped both sides of the Atlantic. I belong to British Trust for Ornithology and take part in a bird survey, birds that were common 20 years ago are in deep trouble now.House Sparrows are a good example. By recruiting all my neighbours into putting up House Sparrow nest boxes we have increased the flock size from 6-10 birds 6 years ago to 40-50 birds now. So you can make a difference. Keep feeding them in hard times and they will reward you tenfold.

I live in the DFW TX area in

I live in the DFW TX area in a 2nd story apartment. We are not permitted to feed the birds (except hummingbirds but I haven't had any luck attracting them). However, I have had doves nesting in my outdoor plants all spring & summer. In past years, the finches claimed my plant on the balcony but this year the doves beat them to it. The pair on my balcony is sitting on their 5th batch of 2 eggs, #9 & #10 babies. The other pair by my front door has #4 & #5 babies (their 3rd batch) ready to leave the nest in a day or so. (They only had 1 egg in the 1st batch.) They are so tame, they let me water the plants while they’re sitting there. I’ve taken some really good pics, too. The plant by my front door is just inches away from the door. My cat loves to watch the activity but, of course, I don’t let her get anywhere near them. She couldn’t reach the ones on the balcony anyway. When I’m home, whoever is sitting in the plant on the balcony can watch the TV in the living room. It must get boring just sitting there because the Papa (males sit during the day; females @ night; they change “shifts”~ dawn & dusk) leans over to see the TV, if I try to close the blind against the sun so, of course, I leave it open for him. It’s non-stop doves @ my place!

As Jeri Rider commented, we

As Jeri Rider commented, we have about the same birds in southern Illinois, no juncos though. Since we've been hovering in the mid to high 90's June and July, we have noticed a drastic decrease in the bird population. If they've found cooler weather, I wish they would return and let us know. The bluebirds haven't bathed as much as what they have in past years. We have had a blue Grosbeak and a nuthatch, red-winged blackbirds, cowbirds and downys occasionally. What is really amazing is to see the Waxwings come in. They only stay a couple of days but I keep my camera handy as they come in and are as thirsty as if they walked through Death Valley. It's usually in mid fall when they come through. The "hummers" are also a joy to watch. We usually have only one or two but have been blessed with 10 this year. I have found if the nectar is a little cool, they will hog the trough. I haven't heard of the ant moats before. I need to explore that a possibly buying one.

We also have the chickadees

We also have the chickadees and gold finches. The starlings have moved on for now, but they will be back. We also have doves, cardinals, blue jays, eastern bluebirds. titmice, We've had baltimore orioles pass through, and rose breasted grossbeaks have passed through. We also have a pilated woodpecker that visits our suet, along with red bellied woodpeckers. But the red bellied come more in the winter. Along with the juncos.
It's funny to watch the hummingbird feeders, as the downy wodpeckers like the nectar also. Just this morning there was a downy eating nectar, and three hummers were attacking like the "King Kong" movie. The gold finches also like the ant moats full of water over the hummingbird feeders. They think that they are their personal drinking fountains. Forget the fact that there are two birdbaths close by. That's fun to watch also. You would be amazed to watch the "pecking order" at the birdbaths. Usually the robins win out first.


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