With all of the rain we have had recently, it is time to check your seed feeders for cleanliness. This past week I had black-oil sunflower seeds sprouting in one of my feeders! Make sure the seed in your feeders is dry and loose and not wet and clumped together. Birdseed can get moldy if it gets wet, so take a minute and check each of your feeders.
The newest generation of seed feeders has some really nice features when it comes to rotating birdseed and cleaning the feeder. Aspects brand seed feeders come with a quick-clean removable base. With the simple push of a button, the base of the feeder detaches from the body, allowing easy access for cleaning purposes.
Aspects also makes accessories for their tube feeders such as a weather guard and a tube top. These products are designed to shield feeders and seed from rain.
On a different note, this has been a very unusual summer in terms of suet consumption. Normally I recommend feeding suet during the cooler months of the year, from October to April. In a typical year, suet sales drop off when the weather gets warm-but not this year. I can’t remember a previous year where we have gone through as much suet as we have this summer.
If I were asked which species is particularly fond of suet, I would have to say it is bushtits. One day this past week, I was watering the garden, which is only a few feet away from one of the four suet feeders I have hanging in my yard. As I was watering, the bushtits came in and swarmed all over the suet cage.
Knowing that bushtits like water, I used the garden hose and gently sprayed water up into the branches of the pinyon pine tree where the suet feeder is hanging. I did this intentionally, knowing exactly what the bushtits would do in response to this sudden shower. I witnessed several bushtits engaging in foliage-bathing. You may be wondering what that is. Bushtits are very small birds – they weigh only about one gram more than an Anna’s hummingbird. They have very short legs and tiny little feet.
I have never seen a bushtit bathing in a birdbath – not because they don’t like water, but because even in a very shallow birdbath, the water would still be too deep for them.
As the droplets of water were falling down through the pine needles and the branches of the tree, they rubbed their bodies against the wet foliage to come in contact with the water and proceeded to bathe. This bathing technique is surprisingly effective for getting all wet.
Hummingbird numbers are really ramping up. We are getting reports of large numbers of hummingbirds at backyard feeders right now. On Monday, I received an email, with photographic documentation, of a broad-billed hummingbird at a home in Skull Valley!
A quick reminder that next week is the second annual Hummingbird Festival in Sedona. Visit the website at www.hummingbirdsociety.org to register for the different activities they have planned.
I will miss the Hummingbird Festival this year, as I will be a vendor at the Sierra Vista Southwest Wings Birding and Nature Festival, which falls on the exact same dates. I am hopeful that I can get out and do some serious birding each day. After all, southeastern Arizona is my favorite place to bird.