The hobby of backyard bird-feeding is so interesting – and so are the people who feed the birds. This past week has been almost entertaining here at the store. If I have heard the expression “the birds are eating us out of house and home” once, I have heard it a thousand times!
Another expression I hear over and over again from customers is the sentiment that birds are “flying pigs.” Certainly, wild birds do eat a lot, and there is no denying it.
I often tell people that I know exactly what is going on out in nature by what is being sold in the store. For example, when the demand for nyjer/thistle seed goes up, I know that lesser goldfinch activity has really increased in the area. I don’t have to go bird-watching to figure it out; I just have to observe what is “flying” out the door.
Bird activity is very dynamic and is constantly changing – and sometimes those changes can be very abrupt. Goldfinch numbers are coming on really strong right now. Most of the customers that are coming into the store these days are amazed by the large amount of finches they are seeing at their feeders.
One explanation for this is the fact that breeding activity is in full swing, and as clutches of baby finches leave the nest, they are joining their parents at your finch feeders. Prior to breeding activity, you may have had four pair of adults coming to your yard for a total of eight finches. Suppose that each pair successfully reared to maturity an average of three fledglings. Your finch numbers just went from eight birds to 20 birds at your feeder!
And that is just one species. Multiply the offspring being produced by all of the other species in your yard, such as quail, dove, towhee, woodpeckers, etc., and you will notice a whole lot more bird activity in your yard as fledglings begin joining
their parents at your feeders.
Over the weekend, I was at a friend’s home and was so impressed by the variety of birds I was seeing. In just one tree I saw Phainopepla, kingbird, cowbird, oriole, house finch, ladder-backed woodpecker, and a male summer tanager all at the same time! With a little imagination, it was like a Christmas tree decorated with bird ornaments.
Directly in front of the above-mentioned tree, there was a male blue grosbeak in another tree. The collection of colors I was seeing was astonishing. There were birds that were black, blue, red, orange and yellow – a true kaleidoscope of color.
Just this week I noticed that Rufous hummingbirds are back in my yard, which is a change from a week ago – another example of the dynamic nature of bird movement and population. Hummingbird numbers, like finch numbers, are on the rise as fledglings join their parents at feeders. This numbers will crescendo in July and August when hummingbird migration reaches its peak.
You might want to consider increasing the number of hummingbird feeders you have in your yard to enjoy this unique time of hummingbird harmony – where you can actually experience large numbers of hummers coming together and actually feeding together somewhat amicably. I have six feeders up right now and will probably put out two more just for the next six weeks or so to take advantage of this hummingbird bonanza.