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Bird feeding

January 14, 2018
Kevin Williams , Reinbeck Courier

At my house, bird feeding has become an increased activity the last few years. There have been many attempts over the 30 plus years that we have lived there. Maybe it was the fact that our household included three kids with very active schedules to occupy time. All of them have happy families of their own leaving Grandma and Grandpa some free time or at least different time now. These last couple of years have seen additional styles of feeders added to the backyard and a wider selection of feed being offered to our winter resident birds.

Our feeders are from six to twenty feet away from our patio doors and windows on and around the deck. I am not going to go into detail as I am sure there are readers with far more experience and years of service feeding birds than I. With Iowa being in the deep freeze at the moment, it has been very easy to attract a variety of birds to the feeders right now.

The thistle feeders are popular with the finches. The gravity bin feeders have a host of different birds visiting them. My platform feeder is simply a stone bench under the feeders where I place food and where spilt feed lands and ads to that. And we do not cut the dead flowers away in that area in the fall leaving the seeds of those to be utilized. It also gives the birds a little more security as they search in and under those stems.

With long stretches of below zero temperatures, the feeders have proven their worth. No sooner are they filled than the onslaught of visitors begins. There are several bluejays that come screaming in and take over the feeder long enough to choose a morsel. One in particular likes to bring its selection a few feet over to the deck rail where it can hold the seed between its feet and chisel it open. Last Saturday, I drew the blinds to find a snow angel in the fresh snow. In the center were numerous blue and gray feathers with the outside of the angel formed by the outspread wings of a hawk which obviously visited the feeder, as well. Likely not the last meal it will take there this winter.

Probably the most common winter visitor to our feeding stations are the little dark gray and white dark-eyed juncos. They love small seeds, like millet, on the ground. With every seed that the bluejays or starlings pick (yes, there are starlings that visit my feeders, too) several smaller seeds including millet are scattered out to fall on the ground. I enjoy watching the juncos bouncing around below the feeders eating those.

Downy and red-bellied woodpeckers fly in and out for short stays. Male and female cardinals visit daily, too.

And doves. I have always been partial to pigeons and doves. This year, there have been as many as twenty mourning doves in under the feeders.

While the feed bill keeps mounting, I must say that watching the feeders is much more entertaining than any television news lately.



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