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November 3, 2012 / Leslie

Weekend Birding: Feeder Birds

Project Feederwatch

Every year from November through April I participate in the citizen science project called Project FeederWatch. Anyone with an interest in birds and that lives in the US or Canada can participate. All you need is a bird feeder and be willing to count birds two consecutive days a week. It can be all or any part of those days. At the end of the season scientists analyze the data submitted by FeederWatch participants to study bird migration and behavior.

Backyard Birds

I keep a few feeders out year-round but they don’t get a lot of use in the summer months. There is plenty of natural food and many of the summer residents are insect eaters and won’t go to a seed feeder. I do get the occasional parent stopping by for an easy meal after a long day of caring for nestlings.

In the cold months I add a few more feeders with different types of seeds. Sunflower seeds, peanuts and a tray of mixed seeds are out year-round. Last week I added thistle and safflower, which the finches love, and a suet feeder.

This past week I noticed a lot more birds at the feeders. Some of them were nice enough to pose for photos. On the right is a beautiful male Red-bellied Woodpecker. These birds are year-round residents in the area, but this individual is new to my yard. He showed up a few weeks ago and loves the peanut feeder. He’s not at all fearful of me. I walked right up to him and took this photo.

The Blue Jay stopped by for some peanuts. I put a handful of whole peanuts in the tray with the seed and he (or she, they look alike) was picking them out. If there are no peanuts when he arrives, he sits in the apple tree and calls until I bring out more peanuts. Seriously.

The Goldfinches were on the thistle feeder. They have changed to their winter plumage which is a dull greenish-yellow. Males and females look similar during the winter but males are still a little bit brighter in color.

Mr. Cardinal stopped by for some sunflower seeds. Mrs. Cardinal was also here but she was in the apple tree on the safflower feeder and I couldn’t get a good photo of her. The cardinals are very shy and always fly off when they see me.

I have lots of House Sparrows who are here every day, all day, year-round. They eat pretty much anything and are not shy at all.

As the winter migrants show up in my yard I’ll try to get some photos of them too. These are the birds that spend their summers in Canada and think Chicago is a good place to go for the winter!

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce at At Home With Books. Visit her blog to see more great photos or add your own.

© 2012 Under My Apple Tree. All rights reserved.



Leave a Comment
  1. Louise / Nov 3 2012 3:01 am

    What a fabulous series of photos. The woodpecker and the blue jay are particularly gorgeous to my Australian eyes. And what a great project to be involved in. Fun and useful.


  2. Cipriano / Nov 3 2012 3:06 am

    Incredibly gorgeous, all of them, down to the lowly [yet not] sparrows.
    The bluejay’s demands crack me up, and as for the cardinal….. hey, the brighter you are, the more wary you must be.


  3. lmkazmierczak / Nov 3 2012 4:26 am

    Bear With Me…keeping up with the feeders is a commitment♫ Have been waiting for the geese to fly over our house but this year they must have changed their route. Have you noticed a difference in their migration?


    • Leslie / Nov 4 2012 4:34 pm

      Now that you mention it, I haven’t seen too many large groups passing overhead yet. I counted 28 circling a local pond yesterday but so far no large honking waves of geese.


  4. Brona / Nov 3 2012 5:21 am

    What lovely pics. The blue jay is my favourite 🙂


  5. Paulita / Nov 3 2012 5:28 am

    I love the colorful array of birds. We have all of them at our feeders, except the woodpecker. I know some are around though because I hear them pecking in the trees. My husband is the bird feeder guy. Maybe I’ll suggest he try peanuts — unsalted I assume. Here’s Mine


    • Leslie / Nov 4 2012 4:36 pm

      The shelled peanuts I get from the feed store are salted. A peanut feeder will definitely attract woodpeckers as will a suet feeder.


  6. Trish / Nov 3 2012 6:13 am

    What a great variety of birds! It’s usually hit or miss at our feeder, especially since half our time is spent trying to outwit the squirrels.


    • Leslie / Nov 4 2012 9:34 pm

      Yes, those pesky squirrels. I always have one that’s smart enough to get on the feeder no matter what I do.


  7. laurelrainsnow / Nov 3 2012 6:27 am

    They are all so beautiful! I think the Cardinal and the Red-bellied Woodpecker are my favorites…I’m a fan of red. Your yard must be a heavenly place for the birds in the area. You have everything there that they could possibly want….thanks for sharing.



    • Leslie / Nov 4 2012 4:38 pm

      I have Disneyland for birds here. Five feeders and five bird baths, and they are all busy!


  8. kaye / Nov 3 2012 7:07 am

    That woodpecker is absolutely gorgeous! I love to see them but when they drill on our aluminum soffit, it makes me crazy. I don’t know why they do that.


    • Leslie / Nov 4 2012 4:40 pm

      They should not be drilling on the soffit, not sure why they’d do that. However, I have seen them try to shove sunflower seeds under roof tiles… they are hiding them there for a snowy day.


  9. Jayme@Beachreader / Nov 3 2012 7:13 am

    I so enjoy your photos every Saturday. Have you ever thought of compiling a birding book? Your photos are fabulous.


    • Leslie / Nov 4 2012 4:41 pm

      I’m thinking something a little less ambitious like a calendar.


  10. BermudaOnion / Nov 3 2012 7:54 am

    Aw, your blue jay loves you! Woodpeckers are beautiful but we had one do a lot of damage to our house so they can be a nuisance too.


    • Leslie / Nov 4 2012 4:43 pm

      Yeah, my Jay is very bossy. I try to have his peanuts out for him the night before! So far my woodpeckers are fairly well behaved, no drilling holes in the house. The red-belly likes to put seeds under the roof singles though.


  11. Diane@BibliophilebytheSea / Nov 3 2012 8:46 am

    What vivid captures; so beautiful.


  12. Alyce (@AtHomeWithBooks) / Nov 3 2012 11:34 am

    I love the bit about the blue jay – you’re like a bird food waitress. 🙂 Fun to see the birds that are passing through your yard!


    • Leslie / Nov 4 2012 4:44 pm

      For now I’m a waitress. These birds are going to be upset if (when!) I find a job and go back to working all day.


  13. Lisa H. (@AliveonShelves) / Nov 3 2012 12:00 pm

    So colorful! These are really great pics.

    Lisa @ Alive on the Shelves


  14. readerbuzz / Nov 3 2012 12:10 pm

    Brilliant shots. We (I’m told) get lots of visitor birds here along the Texas Gulf Coast.

    Here’s my Saturday Snapshot. Hope you will stop by.


    • Leslie / Nov 4 2012 4:45 pm

      Yes, I’ve heard that too but I haven’t had the chance to visit the Texas coast yet. Someday I will!


  15. Leeswammes / Nov 3 2012 2:21 pm

    Beautiful pictures! I love especially the blue jay, we have nothing that colorful over here.


    • Leslie / Nov 4 2012 4:50 pm

      The Jay is one of our more colorful year-round residents. I’m not real familiar with your birds but I know you have a robin that’s got a bright orange breast and a pretty goldfinch too.


      • Leeswammes / Nov 5 2012 2:34 am

        Nothing like that blue jay, Leslie! Our robins have a red/orange breast if you look carefully. I guess the gold finch, yes ( although the ones that I see don’t tend to have a blue head, more like black.

        No, no, you can’t talk me out of it, I’m jealous of your great birds!


      • Leslie / Nov 5 2012 7:09 pm

        It does seem like the further south one travels the more colorful the birds become. I guess I’ll have to spend some time at the equator to see them. (Preferably on a holiday in the winter!)


      • Leeswammes / Nov 6 2012 1:39 am

        I’ll come with your for that holiday, Leslie! I bet colorful birds are esy to spot?


  16. Ginny / Nov 3 2012 3:55 pm

    I look forward to your bird photos every week. The blue jay is just stunning.


  17. Suko / Nov 3 2012 4:22 pm

    Leslie, each of these photos is a work of art!


  18. epkwrsmith / Nov 3 2012 6:27 pm

    I don’t get to do much birdwatching…my cats would thoroughly enjoy it if we had some feeders though :/ Beautiful pictures!


  19. Beth F / Nov 4 2012 7:36 am

    Awesome photos! I get all those bird all year round plus more. I never thought of putting out a thistle feeder. Hummmmmm.


    • Leslie / Nov 4 2012 4:57 pm

      I only put the thistle out in the cold months. The first year I put it up I had it on a feeder pole. The birds didn’t like that so the feed store told me to move it to a tree. Not sure why that worked but it did. Squirrels don’t like the thistle and they (mostly) leave it alone.


  20. joyweesemoll / Nov 4 2012 11:44 am

    Beautiful. The blue jay photo is stunning. I don’t think I’d ever noticed how many shades of blue there are on a blue jay.


  21. Carol / Nov 6 2012 1:30 pm

    Thank you for the reminder. I need to order a kit. I think it’ll be a nice family project, especially with my daughter really into birds right now.


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