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Tags bird watching , birders , birds , ornithology

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Old 6th November 2012, 06:20 AM   #281
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Originally Posted by sphenisc View Post
Juvenile razorbill - beak's a little too big and showing beginning of the white vertical marking, also no white streaks showing in the secondary coverts.
I see where you're coming from with the beak looking too big for Little Auk (Dovekie to us in the States). I think, however, that Little Auk is the correct identification. The bird is in its non-breeding plumage, with white extending up the side of the face behind the eye. The beak looks a bit hefty both from the angle but also because we rarely get to see such great close-up photos. I also found photos of Little Auks with little to no apparent white streaks in the scapulars.
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Old 6th November 2012, 06:32 AM   #282
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Originally Posted by joobie View Post
more shots of the same american black duck:
I hate to be a party pooper joobie, but I think what you've got in these shots is actually a mallard. Mallards have been domesticated and bred into a great variety of forms. The one in your photos seems to be one of the big, dark-all-over forms, perhaps something like a "Cayuga Duck."

Check out this explanation (with photos).

Behavior can be an important clue to identification too. A proper, wild American Black Duck probably wouldn't let your dog get within 1/4 mile.

Have fun!
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Old 6th November 2012, 07:07 AM   #283
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Originally Posted by Skwinty View Post
There is a possibility that the tortoise was killed by the council tractor mower that cuts the grass around the wetland reserve.

However, after some research, it appears that crows do indeed prey on tortoises.

http://www.google.co.za/url?sa=t&rct...bcybuwHPoovc2Q
It's an unfamiliar tortoise to me, but if it had been alive, would its shell be colored that way? Crows around here are certainly carrion fanciers, but they're also pretty fast eaters, so I would not expect a freshly killed tortoise to show much sign of deterioration. They'll empty a shell quickly.
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Old 6th November 2012, 07:37 AM   #284
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Originally Posted by The Shrike View Post
I see where you're coming from with the beak looking too big for Little Auk (Dovekie to us in the States). I think, however, that Little Auk is the correct identification. The bird is in its non-breeding plumage, with white extending up the side of the face behind the eye. The beak looks a bit hefty both from the angle but also because we rarely get to see such great close-up photos. I also found photos of Little Auks with little to no apparent white streaks in the scapulars.
Do you see any positive traits for Little Auk?

I see a crown to bill base: bill length ratio of about 1.5:1, whereas for little auk I'd expect 2 or more.
The dark eye patch is small, nothing like the "panda" semicircle round a little auk's eye. the extent of white behind the eye is too high, giving an almost 3/4 surround to the eye, whereas little auk's forms around 180 degree line. Neck is too long, the head sitting well above the body line even in this relaxed posture.
White mark on the bill in the right position for razorbill. Lack of white in scapulars isn't conclusive on its own, but in combination with everything else it's a point against little auk.
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Old 6th November 2012, 07:39 AM   #285
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Originally Posted by bruto View Post
It's an unfamiliar tortoise to me, but if it had been alive, would its shell be colored that way?
Crows around here are certainly carrion fanciers, but they're also pretty fast eaters, so I would not expect a freshly killed tortoise to show much sign of deterioration. They'll empty a shell quickly.
Yes, it would have been that colour. Im not an expert in chelonian corpses but there is what appears to be a dried limb in the picture?

Skwintys theory sounds plausible. There is a nature reserve in the area, and i can see a tortoise wandering onto council land and meeting a gruesome end.
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Old 6th November 2012, 07:50 AM   #286
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I think Quietus has identified the tortoise as young adult Angulate Tortoise Chersina angulata.

When I posted the pic, I made a misleading statement.

This was not intentional, merely trying to be brief. My bad.

I was not the one who saw and chased the crow, it was my neighbor.

I retrieved the tortoise 3 days after the fact.The tortoise, in my estimation is no longer than 15cm. ( and would probably weigh about 800g to 1kg.)

Fully grown they can weigh as much as 2.1kg.

It seems that the crow is able to peck all the way through the shell, eat most of the innards and then bomb drop to break the shell further.

The link I posted earlier deals with the crow tortoise predation and recommends culling the crows.
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Old 6th November 2012, 08:35 AM   #287
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Here's another interesting avian predation scenario.

The islands around Laangebaan are breeding grounds for cormorant and gannet. There is always a Nature Conservation presence on these islands.

They are there to chase pelicans away as the pelicans eat the young cormorant and gannet hatchlings.

This is apparently a learned behaviour of the pelicans. There was a chicken farm which regularly disposed of dead chicken hatchlings by feeding them to the pelicans.

The chicken farm has not been operational for a few years now and the conservationists are hoping to unlearn these pelicans.
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Old 7th November 2012, 02:47 PM   #288
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It's an unfamiliar tortoise to me, but I certainly have no problem believing crows would catch and eat live ones, or that they can figure out whatever way is necessary to get all the meat out of a shell.
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Old 8th November 2012, 03:52 AM   #289
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Bruto, the tortoise in question is a common tortoise in South Africa.

The problems caused by crows extends well beyond tortoises.

Raptors are also being harrassed and killed by crows.

See http://www.fitzpatrick.uct.ac.za/afr...16(5)50-54.pdf

ETA: more about Angulate tortoises.

http://academic.sun.ac.za/capeherp/c...anangulate.htm
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Old 10th November 2012, 08:02 PM   #290
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Lovely day in Washington DC - 20 degrees and the duck pond living up to it's name....mallards paddling about.

Ducks in a row

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Old 11th November 2012, 05:24 PM   #291
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Just back from a cruise, and of course I took my camera. Still sorting through the pics (I took a lot of pics), but while I'm going through:


Great Kiskadee
Seriously, I'd never heard of a 'great kiskadeee' until I went thumbing through Sibley's to figure out what this bird was.


A Pair of Brown Boobies
Taken from the ship. This picture isn't terribly sharp, and it wasn't easy to get, but it was much easier than the next one. Technically, it isn't a bird, but it was flying:

Flying Fish desktop
This was a challenging picture to take.
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Old 12th November 2012, 12:54 PM   #292
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saw a hawk sitting on a lamppost while out today:


Untitled by philside92, on Flickr


Untitled by philside92, on Flickr

not the greatest light for photos, but i don't often get the chance to be that close to a raptor.

(here's hoping the Shrike pops in to tell me exactly what it is)
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Old 12th November 2012, 02:07 PM   #293
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Originally Posted by joobie View Post
saw a hawk sitting on a lamppost while out today:
In general, if you see an unidentified raptor in North America, it's probably a red-tailed hawk. Unless, of course, it's quite large, in which case it's a "big ol' red-tailed hawk."

In this case . . . well, that belly-band suggests a red-tailed hawk to me, though it's not a slam-dunk. Part of the problem is that red-tailed hawk coloration varies a lot. Sure looks like a lot of beak for a buteo, though, so there's at least one other possibility. How big did it seem?

Quote:
not the greatest light for photos, but i don't often get the chance to be that close to a raptor.
Actually, I think they're quite impressive photos.

Quote:
(here's hoping the Shrike pops in to tell me exactly what it is)
Agreed.
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Old 12th November 2012, 03:02 PM   #294
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Originally Posted by dasmiller View Post
In general, if you see an unidentified raptor in North America, it's probably a red-tailed hawk. Unless, of course, it's quite large, in which case it's a "big ol' red-tailed hawk."

In this case . . . well, that belly-band suggests a red-tailed hawk to me, though it's not a slam-dunk. Part of the problem is that red-tailed hawk coloration varies a lot. Sure looks like a lot of beak for a buteo, though, so there's at least one other possibility. How big did it seem?
i tend to think they are all red-tailed hawks as well myself, but i always feel like i have a lot more to learn about bird IDs. like i said upthread too, they all sort of look alike to me, plus i don't have a lot of resources to draw on. i did some looking about on the cornell website earlier and as usual, i came away just as confused as i did going in. i did think perhaps it's tail was a bit long to be a red-tailed, but i guess it's hard to tell.

it seemed pretty large. i am going to guess it was at least a foot from tailfeathers to head.

this picture may give you some more perspective on it's size. i snapped it with my phone because i didn't know if i would manage to get back with my camera before it flew off.


Untitled by philside92, on Flickr

Quote:
Actually, I think they're quite impressive photos.
thanks!
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Old 12th November 2012, 08:08 PM   #295
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i am really leaning towards red-tailed hawk. i'm just wishy washy about it.
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Old 15th November 2012, 08:47 AM   #296
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the juncos have returned for the winter. well, maybe they are here all the time, but i only ever notice them in the winter. in fact, i normally only ever see them f there's snow on the ground.


slate-colored juncos (junco hyemalis hyemalis) by philside92, on Flickr
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Old 15th November 2012, 09:08 PM   #297
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Magnificent Frigatebird:


Headless Frigatebird

Seriously, it has "Magnificent" in its name? Oh, great, birds with egos.

Anyway, there were a lot of these things around, but I had trouble getting decent pictures of them. This picture was one of the few that were reasonably exposed, though I'm not wild about the missing head.
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Old 16th November 2012, 02:49 AM   #298
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that's a beautiful picture.went to a different park than my usual haunt thursday.


HONK by philside92, on Flickr

took 52 photos to get the right one. totally worth it.
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Old 21st November 2012, 12:17 PM   #299
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A Sharp Shinned Hawk seen in Central Illinois, USA. We see a few different hawks and falcons around here. Kestrels, Red-Tails, and Cooper's Hawks are common, but this is a new one for us to see right outside our window. It's a small bird, not much bigger than a Blue Jay. He didn't seem to mind me standing below his tree to take a few photos.

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Old 21st November 2012, 01:13 PM   #300
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Originally Posted by joobie View Post
saw a hawk sitting on a lamppost while out today:
Your instincts are correct - that's a Red-tailed Hawk!
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Old 21st November 2012, 01:34 PM   #301
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Originally Posted by sphenisc View Post
Do you see any positive traits for Little Auk?
I see its apparent size, shape, and plumage all positive for Little Auk. Lighting, angle, and individual variation can make a single image difficult call with 100% certainty. For example, I can't guarantee that there isn't a white partial eye ring or "eye arc" on this bird; I can only say that I don't see one. At the same time, I am not convinced there is any white on the bill because I'm not seeing anything so clearly that I can say for sure it's a marking on the bill or a play of the light.

The bird's posture is less typical for a Little Auk, but they do stretch their necks from time to time and assume a very different shape than we usually see. The one thing that doesn't change, however, is bill shape. Our perception is really just a function of its angle to the camera. In this case, what I see is sufficient to convince me that the bill is not the blunt-tipped "Roman nose" of a Razorbill; it is, instead, a dead-ringer for Little Auk bill shape on some of the photos to which I had linked.

If this bird lacked a bill altogether, I'd still lean heavily toward Little Auk. The bill shape, however, clinches it for me.
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Old 21st November 2012, 01:41 PM   #302
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Originally Posted by GeeMack View Post
Fantastic photo for illustrating identification tips for Sharpies and Coops!

In this case, it's in the classic adult plumage that is pretty much identical between the two species. This bird even has a conspicuously dark cap that is often very noticeable on a Coop but less so on a Sharpie. Check out the rounded tail tip, too. That's a classic point of separation between the two species that would indicate Cooper's Hawk - and in this case lead the identifier astray!

This bird is indeed a Sharp-shinned Hawk, and one look no further than its tiny tarsi! The legs on this bird are somewhere between toothpick- and chopstick-thin; those on a Coop would be more like #2 pencil-thick. Note as well that the head, while dark-capped, is relatively small and rounded. Coops have a slight crest toward the back that, even when not raised, can make the head look a bit "blocky" or squared-off. This bird has a small, rounded head - almost like a pigeon with a hawk's beak. It's a Sharp-shinned Hawk.
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Old 21st November 2012, 01:51 PM   #303
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I just bought a bird seed feeder. Winter coming on. Feed da boidies, save the planet etc.
It has been a traumatic experience.

I remember when feeding birds involved a handful of breadcrumbs and some bits of bacon rind, scattered on the ground.

No longer.

The shop had three types of feeder- seed , nut and fat ball, (plus various combinations). Some of them were reinforced steel, squirrel-proof* Faraday cages with running water, real slate roofs and cable television.
Prices from £3.99 to an eye-watering £33.99!
* Hah! There are nuclear bunkers with squirrels.When Man first lands on Mars there will be bastard squirrels.

Bird seed now comes in 25 kilogramme bags! Guaranteed free of marijuana, which "Swoop" wasn't back in the 1970s. They had pallets of the stuff. Peanuts by the metric tonne. Fat balls to make the eyes of the harem eunuchs of the Grand Turk water.

When did feeding garden birds become a major catering industry?

So I got a cheap affair and a bucket of birdseed. A bucket. Are these American migrants or something? We feed HORSES out of buckets in this country.

I filled the device. It seats four, with feeding holes near the base and mid way up.
Why doesn't the seed fall out of the holes part way up? *Turns feeder upside down to inspect * Oh. That's why.

I hung the device in the garden and hadn't made it to the door when the first customers arrived. Did the shop text them or something?
In approx 3 hours, 112 tits of various types, 4 Greenfinches , 2 chaffinches and the entire Scottish Sparrow Air Force demolished approximately 1 kg of seeds. These are birds? Christ protect us from Pterodactyls. The little buggers are like airborne piranhas!
I'm scared to go out the back now in case they eat me.
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Old 21st November 2012, 01:54 PM   #304
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Originally Posted by The Shrike View Post
Your instincts are correct - that's a Red-tailed Hawk!

And you are also right about the lamp-post.
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Old 21st November 2012, 02:07 PM   #305
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Originally Posted by Soapy Sam View Post
I just bought a bird seed feeder. Winter coming on. Feed da boidies, save the planet etc.
It has been a traumatic experience.

I remember when feeding birds involved a handful of breadcrumbs and some bits of bacon rind, scattered on the ground.

No longer.

The shop had three types of feeder- seed , nut and fat ball, (plus various combinations). Some of them were reinforced steel, squirrel-proof* Faraday cages with running water, real slate roofs and cable television.
Prices from £3.99 to an eye-watering £33.99!
* Hah! There are nuclear bunkers with squirrels.When Man first lands on Mars there will be bastard squirrels.

Bird seed now comes in 25 kilogramme bags! Guaranteed free of marijuana, which "Swoop" wasn't back in the 1970s. They had pallets of the stuff. Peanuts by the metric tonne. Fat balls to make the eyes of the harem eunuchs of the Grand Turk water.

When did feeding garden birds become a major catering industry?

So I got a cheap affair and a bucket of birdseed. A bucket. Are these American migrants or something? We feed HORSES out of buckets in this country.

I filled the device. It seats four, with feeding holes near the base and mid way up.
Why doesn't the seed fall out of the holes part way up? *Turns feeder upside down to inspect * Oh. That's why.

I hung the device in the garden and hadn't made it to the door when the first customers arrived. Did the shop text them or something?
In approx 3 hours, 112 tits of various types, 4 Greenfinches , 2 chaffinches and the entire Scottish Sparrow Air Force demolished approximately 1 kg of seeds. These are birds? Christ protect us from Pterodactyls. The little buggers are like airborne piranhas!
I'm scared to go out the back now in case they eat me.
lol great post . . . and I feel your pain.
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Old 21st November 2012, 02:36 PM   #306
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i would put a feeder out, but my jackass neighbor leaves her cats out all the time. i feel like i'd just be padding their diets with birds. i had a birdbath but i took that down too.

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Old 21st November 2012, 03:10 PM   #307
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Ah, the birds know the risks. If you really want birds in your backyard (and you're not a PETA type), go ahead and feed them with the understanding that sure, the cats will eventually grab one or two. You can always take steps to discourage the cats, like a well placed squirt with the garden hose. It won't stop them, but it might make them think twice about camping out around your feeders.

I don't feed birds because I think the birds need food. I feed birds for the entirely selfish reason that I want to see them in my backyard.
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Old 21st November 2012, 05:08 PM   #308
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Originally Posted by Soapy Sam View Post
I just bought a bird seed feeder. Winter coming on. Feed da boidies, save the planet etc.
It has been a traumatic experience.

I remember when feeding birds involved a handful of breadcrumbs and some bits of bacon rind, scattered on the ground.

No longer.

The shop had three types of feeder- seed , nut and fat ball, (plus various combinations). Some of them were reinforced steel, squirrel-proof* Faraday cages with running water, real slate roofs and cable television.
Prices from £3.99 to an eye-watering £33.99!
* Hah! There are nuclear bunkers with squirrels. When Man first lands on Mars there will be bastard squirrels.

Bird seed now comes in 25 kilogramme bags! Guaranteed free of marijuana, which "Swoop" wasn't back in the 1970s. They had pallets of the stuff. Peanuts by the metric tonne. Fat balls to make the eyes of the harem eunuchs of the Grand Turk water.

When did feeding garden birds become a major catering industry?

So I got a cheap affair and a bucket of birdseed. A bucket. Are these American migrants or something? We feed HORSES out of buckets in this country.

I filled the device. It seats four, with feeding holes near the base and mid way up.
Why doesn't the seed fall out of the holes part way up? *Turns feeder upside down to inspect * Oh. That's why.

I hung the device in the garden and hadn't made it to the door when the first customers arrived. Did the shop text them or something?
In approx 3 hours, 112 tits of various types, 4 Greenfinches , 2 chaffinches and the entire Scottish Sparrow Air Force demolished approximately 1 kg of seeds. These are birds? Christ protect us from Pterodactyls. The little buggers are like airborne piranhas!
I'm scared to go out the back now in case they eat me.

To feed birds on a budget, start with a two-seater and only fill it part way. The birds have to take turns with a two holer, but I've never heard one complain. And if you fill it only part way, the birds have to stop when it's gone. But don't worry, they'll come back when you refill it. When they find a source of free easy food they remember where it is. Also when you do fill it, do it at the time of day that allows you to enjoy watching them. Like The Shrike said, the birds don't so much need us for food. We feed them for our pleasure.
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Old 22nd November 2012, 12:49 PM   #309
Soapy Sam
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Originally Posted by GeeMack View Post
To feed birds on a budget, start with a two-seater and only fill it part way. The birds have to take turns with a two holer, but I've never heard one complain. And if you fill it only part way, the birds have to stop when it's gone. But don't worry, they'll come back when you refill it. When they find a source of free easy food they remember where it is. Also when you do fill it, do it at the time of day that allows you to enjoy watching them. Like The Shrike said, the birds don't so much need us for food. We feed them for our pleasure.

What amazed me was that they found it literally within seconds of me hanging it up. Looks like they can empty it completely once a day. This is in mild weather , too, with lots of berries and insects still around.

I do wonder whether, given the apparent size of the bird feeding industry, we are actually changing the behaviour of the common garden birds. Are we in stage one of domestication?
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Old 22nd November 2012, 12:54 PM   #310
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Originally Posted by joobie View Post
i would put a feeder out, but my jackass neighbor leaves her cats out all the time. i feel like i'd just be padding their diets with birds. i had a birdbath but i took that down too.

Well, this is the plus. A bird feeder is like having your own goat staked out back to attract the tigers. Just sit back with the window open, a mug of coffee and the .22 and wait for the big game to show up!
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Old 22nd November 2012, 01:00 PM   #311
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Originally Posted by joobie View Post
i would put a feeder out, but my jackass neighbor leaves her cats out all the time. i feel like i'd just be padding their diets with birds.
Think of it as a combination birdfeeder/catfeeder.
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Old 22nd November 2012, 01:04 PM   #312
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Unfortunately where we are it's a bearfeeder. Somewhere in the internet I imagine one can find a link for how our governor found this out the hard way, running out to save his bird feeder while forgetting to don any clothes....
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Old 22nd November 2012, 05:24 PM   #313
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Originally Posted by Soapy Sam View Post
What amazed me was that they found it literally within seconds of me hanging it up. Looks like they can empty it completely once a day. This is in mild weather , too, with lots of berries and insects still around.

Yep. We don't hang suet in the summer, but it seems whenever we decide to first put it out in the late fall, the Downy Woodpeckers show up in no more than a couple hours. Same thing in the spring with the Hummingbirds. Hang the feeder, wait an hour or two, voila! Apparently they're tuned in to something that brings them in when we make the food available.

Quote:
I do wonder whether, given the apparent size of the bird feeding industry, we are actually changing the behaviour of the common garden birds. Are we in stage one of domestication?

There actually is some support for that conjecture. From Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Tufted Titmouse page on their All About Birds web site...
Quote:
Tufted Titmice are common, their populations seem to be growing, and the species has been expanding its range northward over the last half-century. Possible reasons for the range expansion include a warming climate, reversion of farmlands to forests, and the growing popularity of backyard bird feeders.
And this White-Breasted Nuthatch was a daily visitor to our yard for over three years...

YouTube Video This video is not hosted by the JREF. The JREF can not be held responsible for the suitability or legality of this material. By clicking the link below you agree to view content from an external website.
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Old 23rd November 2012, 03:15 PM   #314
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Originally Posted by Soapy Sam
What amazed me was that they found it literally within seconds of me hanging it up. Looks like they can empty it completely once a day. This is in mild weather , too, with lots of berries and insects still around.

Originally Posted by Geemack
Yep. We don't hang suet in the summer, but it seems whenever we decide to first put it out in the late fall, the Downy Woodpeckers show up in no more than a couple hours. Same thing in the spring with the Hummingbirds. Hang the feeder, wait an hour or two, voila! Apparently they're tuned in to something that brings them in when we make the food available.
My sister (a fanatical bird feeder) commented that once birds know a food source has been in a place, they habitually check it. She may be right. We moved into this house in April 2011. There was a twin hook for a feeder in the garden, but last winter was mild and we never used it- but it's still there, so that's where I hung the feeder.

Is it possible birds which last used it maybe 2 years ago have been scoping it out ever since? Seems improbable, but they were amazingly fast- we are literally talking about seconds from hanging till the first arrival.
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Old 23rd November 2012, 03:41 PM   #315
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Originally Posted by Soapy Sam View Post
Is it possible birds which last used it maybe 2 years ago have been scoping it out ever since?
That seems very plausible to me. A lot of trees have edible fruit for only a few days every year; I suspect that once a place has been identified as an occasional source of food, a bird will check it periodically* rather than try to understand how various food sources respond to annual cycles.

A hungry airborne bird can check out a lot of territory very quickly. Smaller birds would be very motivated to find a new batch of food first, because if the food supply is limited, they're likely to be bullied away by bigger birds or squirrels.

When I first started feeding the birds several years ago, it took a while (a day or so, I think) before the feeder was noticed. Now, however . . . I put some seed out yesterday, for the first time in 6 months. Within minutes, there was a crowd. The neighborhood birds know that sometimes there's food in my yard, and they have long memories.

*It wouldn't surprise me a bit if "periodically" in this context meant several times per day.
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Old 23rd November 2012, 03:54 PM   #316
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I found an unhappy-looking pile of feathers around the base of one of my feeders yesterday.
I think accipiter nisus must have come a-calling.

The sparrowhawk uses the feeder - which is on a pole - as a convenient plucking post.
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Old 23rd November 2012, 04:24 PM   #317
Soapy Sam
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Originally Posted by dasmiller View Post
That seems very plausible to me. A lot of trees have edible fruit for only a few days every year; I suspect that once a place has been identified as an occasional source of food, a bird will check it periodically* rather than try to understand how various food sources respond to annual cycles.
Good point. I didn't think of that.
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Old 26th November 2012, 01:06 PM   #318
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Aldo Leopold wrote that while chopping wood at his cabin in Wisconsin, the chickadees would come to pull grubs out of the split wood while he was stacking it. I keep chopping wood but have never experienced this.
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Old 26th November 2012, 02:29 PM   #319
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had some wonderful heron sightings today, but not much time to set up a decent picture:


great blue heron (ardea herodias) taking off by philside92, on Flickr
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Old 27th November 2012, 08:37 AM   #320
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Originally Posted by The Shrike View Post
Aldo Leopold wrote that while chopping wood at his cabin in Wisconsin, the chickadees would come to pull grubs out of the split wood while he was stacking it. I keep chopping wood but have never experienced this.

It wouldn't surprise me a bit. They are resourceful little creatures. Chickadees, Titmice, and Nuthatches can be especially curious and brave. I have another White-Breasted Nuthatch who notices when I am out filling feeders. Just a couple days ago he worked up the nerve to come to my hand for the first time. The Chickadees bounce around the branches up in a tree watching. I fully expect some of them will eventually come to my hand, too.

We notice swallows flying low over large grassy areas and fields while they're being mowed. Apparently the mowing is stirring up bugs, and the birds are taking advantage. Freight barges run up and down the Illinois River here in Central Illinois. Ring-Billed Gulls follow the barges because they churn the water bringing the little fish up to the surface. That makes the Shad easy pickin' for the Gulls.
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