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My yard and other places where birds rarely gather

December 23, 2010
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When I was growing up, my family lived in the country and we had a rockin’ feeding station.  Two big sunflower feeders, a couple suet cages, a thistle feeder and at least one jerry-rigged millet feeder on the ground.  Between that and the fact that it looked out over the the Finley River valley offering the possibility of passing geese and raptors, you can imagine we racked up a pretty decent yard list.  And we did, pushing 150 by the time we moved into town when I was in high school.

Since then, my yards have been pretty pathetic.  A rented house in college, an apartment in Durham, and finally, the condo in Chapel Hill where I live today.  There’s not much here to attract a good diversity of birds, and I have to work pretty hard and stretch the definition of what constitutes a “yard” (currently, if I can see my any part of my building from where I stand, it’s in my yard).  Using this definition I’ve turned up 77 species, the most recent this past week.  but here are some of the normals ones.

The little Brown-headed Nuthatches that arrive in groups of three and patiently wait their turns at the feeder.

White-throated Sparrows are thick these days, scratching along under the feeder with my resident Cardinals, Towhees and Song Sparrows of both the resident subspecies and the migratory ones.

The Carolina Wrens in the neighborhood have figured out how to crack open the sunflower seeds by lodging them in the doormat and whacking on them until they split.  It’s fairly ingenious and hilarious and I’ve wanted to get photos of it for years to no avail.

The ever-present suburban menace, Sciurus carolinensis, feeding on the ground like they should.  I have to say however, that now that my young son seems to take delight in pointing them out as they fight their squirrel battles for prime sub-feeder spots, I’ve found myself appreciating them in a new way.  This is most unprecedented.

And finally, the most recent yard bird, Purple Finch!  The dusting of snow last week drew a pair of females in to get an easy lunch.  I haven’t seen them since, but I’m glad I was in the right place at the right time.

So that’s my feeding station these days.

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4 Comments
  1. BirdTrainerRobert permalink
    December 23, 2010 9:00 am

    Purple Finch is a SWEET yardbird. After way too long, I finally got my lifer (/ABA/State/County/what-have-you) Purple Finch the other day, a nice male at the 17 Acre Woods near the Hillandale Golf Course. It’s been my #1 nemesis bird lo these two years I’ve been birding. Now I can turn my sights onto my current nemesis bird: Worm-eating Warbler. Could be a little tougher! Gotta wait til spring at the very least.

  2. Nate permalink*
    December 23, 2010 9:17 am

    @Robert- I still don’t have Purple Finch for any county besides Orange. I’ve seen them a couple times at Mason Farm.

    And you should be able to find WE Warbler in the triangle. I’ve seen them in late April/early May at pretty much any place where there’s middle to late aged deciduous forest. Ritter Park in Cary, Yates Mill, Duke Forest, Eno River. I’ve had them at Mason Farm before too, on that spur trail that goes off into the woods on the southwest corner of the loop, but rarely.

  3. December 23, 2010 11:18 am

    I’d say that nesting Red-shouldered Hawks are pretty good yard birds, even if they only count for one species.

  4. December 24, 2010 7:27 am

    I wish that I could regularly see Brown-headed Nuthatches. Such cool little birds…

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