Like a walk through the country side living on a small farm is full of daily surprises, sometimes wonderful and amazing, and other times puzzling and sad. I hope you will walk with me as I live out my dream of living on this tiny farm. You will come to know the dogs, cats, Shetland sheep and chickens that make up this farm and what goes into keeping them happy and healthy. Come and join the journey with me.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Feeding the Birds

Feeding the birds has been an off and on again undertaking over the years. I like to feed the birds. I enjoy seeing them at the feeder, and the inside kitties have gotten years of free entertainment 'hunting' them. Then along came Echo. Echo kills birds for a living, or so you would think. She is a fat, sassy little gray cat, one of the few that was actually born here. The first winter of her kittenhood, when the bird feeder went up, she found it within days. After that it was all downhill. Not even one bird a day. Multiples. All day. It didn't take me long to take the feeder down. Running to the windows and screaming everytime I saw her wasn't helping. I ended up feeding the birds on a large flat area of ground and just scattering the seed. Then the next few years I just fed them when the weather was extreme. This year I set the feeder back up, but in a slightly different location. Echo parks her butt firmly under it when she can. However when Boone is in the yard loose, she has to head for higher ground, so the birds have some peace then. So far I haven't seen the dead bodies and piles of feathers as in the early years.

Sage watches for hours from the window, crouching down, chattering at the birds. Keeps him out of trouble.

Over the years I've just had birds come to the feeder. For the most part there are lots of Redbirds (Cardinals), Juncos, a few Sparrows, some Titmice(mouses?), and Purple Finches. Occasionally there are Red Headed Woodpeckers, Gold Finches, a few Blue Jays, and unfortunately rowdy Cowbirds. The large and fearsome looking Crows will peck around on the ground.

The other day I looked out and saw a squirrel! Now I know to most people it is not exciting to see a squirrel in their bird feeder. I've never had squirrels around here. Most of the mature squirrel attractive trees are way across the road. Having dogs in the yard has also discouraged them over the years. What few that managed to poke around up here became cat food, when the bloodthirsty Lucy-kittens ruled the land. A couple of years ago a very fat squirrel showed up at the feeder and I enjoyed watching him. Then he disappeared. So looking out and seeing the squirrel was an event. I think that those who have squirrel problems probably see where this is heading. Several days later I looked out and there was the squirrel, wait, no two of them... no, three! Obviously Squirrel has an extended family. It' s still fun to see them, but the birdseed gets consumed at an alarming rate. I have to ration it out, since I'm not made of birdseed, but I sure enjoy seeing the 'birds'--two & four legged--stopping in for a bite to eat.


Michelle at Boulderneigh said...

We have the same kind of feeder, and we enjoy the beautiful silver squirrels that visit, too! I only buy black oil sunflower seed anymore, as that seems to be what everyone truly wants. When an acquaintance once said with disdain, "You BUY seed for the wild birds???" I told her that to us it was entertainment to watch the birds, and I bet she spends a lot more money on movie tickets and video rentals than we do on bird seed.

Tessa said...

That is so cute. :P My cat would probably kill birds. Today she looked out the window and growled like a dog at a person clearing their car.

Nancy K. said...

The cardinals are so pretty! I wish I could put a feeder out but between the cats killing the birds and the moles tearing up the yard because of the seed spilled under the feeders, I gave up....

Kathy said...

I miss Cardinals here. I've seen one, down in Sedona, a long time ago, but they never make it to the mountains for some unknown reason.

I stopped feeding birds for a couple of reasons. I like feeding them becasue, as you say, they were an endless channel on Kitty-TV. I would bake the birdseed in the oven at 300 F for about 20 minutes and that would render nuisance seeds un-sproutable. We all know how sunflowers emit stuff to keep anything else that grows away from the spot they're trying to grow in.
Also, when Bird Flu started, I realized that by inviting birds closer to our property, I was aksing for it at some point. I have chickens. So, it's my job to make sure they stay healthy. I am forever chasing away sparrow out of the barn as it is...just didn't want to put out an invitation to something that will eventually make its way here.
Plus, I know that by feeding the birds here, it encourages them to stay in our nasty winter weather longer and not go to where they should be during the winter. When storms come they SHOULD be in Oak Creek Canyon or Sedona, not sitting here looking into our windows at the cats. :)

Nancy K. said...

Hi Tammy ~ I just dropped back in to tell you that I've nominated you for the "You Make My Day" blog award. You can pick up your button on my blog. I've only been reading your blog for a short time but it has already become one of my favorites.

Blog on!!