Friday, January 5, 2018

National Bird Day!

Eastern Bluebird
"Eastern Bluebird"
(C) Allen Pearson

A favorite hobby of mine over the years has been watching and feeding the birds. A few years ago, when I moved, I got out of the hobby or at least not as active as I was before. No reason for this, just all the life changes caused a few things to be set aside or put on hold.

I set up my bird feeders temporarily on the deck soon after we moved in. I filled the feeders and bird baths but didn't do as frequent as I did in my old house.  To my surprise, what little I did got the birds attention! I was attracting birds with little effort which I had tried for years to attract at my old house.  The Eastern Bluebird visited my old house only every so often. Now, the bird is a frequent visitor!
American Robin
"American Robin"
(C) Allen Pearson

More recently, with the cold weather of winter settling in, I bought a device to place in a birdbath which will prevent the water from freezing.  Little did I know, since the last few winters never really got cold, the device would become invaluable this year! My birdbath has become a popular spot for the birds!

Feeding the birds? Fifteen years ago, I learned a trick with feeding the birds. At first, I used an inexpensive seed which is found at the big box stores. There is nothing really wrong with the seed if you don't mind the mess and the weeds that happen when the seeds fall to the ground- which they will. I found myself pulling plenty of weeds and cleaning up the mess twice a week.

I had read, and heard, that if you use a better quality seed, you will not have the mess, weeds and could attract a variety of birds. I went to a local bird specialty store to learn more about seed and feeding. Of course, I had to wonder if what I was told was a sales pitch so I researched it and found it be accurate.  The cheaper seeds are like going to a fast food restaurant and having a meal. It isn't the best food for you, yet we do it. When the birds go to a feeder with a cheap seed, they pick through it until they find a seed to satisfy. The others are found on the ground. Switching to a more expensive seed wasn't that expensive. Maybe $2-3 more than the cheaper brand but the expense is spent saved when comparing the waste.

"Northern Cardinal"
(C) Allen Pearson
Another point with feeding birds, if you want to attract birds to your feeders, you need to know what birds are native to your area. There are plenty of resources available online where you can learn about the "local" birds and their habits. Since I live in Virginia, I'm not likely to see a Junco during the summer months. These birds will migrate from the north to Virginia in the Winter months and leave when Spring arrives.  The Eastern Bluebird, American Robin, and Northern Cardinal are popular in my area.An important point to know is different birds require different feeders- it's not one size feeds all.

Birdhouses are another point. For this, you need to learn what works for the birds in your area and follow the instructions closely. I have several birdhouses in my backyard and have witnessed different species of birds making their homes every spring.

A fascinating part of birdwatching happens when the seasons change in the Fall to Winter and Winter to Spring. Many birds migrate during these times and will stop by my feeders and birdbaths for a break. I remember coming home one day and seeing the tree in my backyard full of beautiful Cedar Waxwings.

Bird Watching is a fascinating hobby in and of itself. There is quite a bit to learn and understand. For me, I have followed the basics of the hobby which has given me quite a bit of satisfaction.  I have friends who can answer every question you have about birds and the hobby.

Have an awesome National Bird Day. Get outside and watch the birds. Consider taking up the hobby.

Do you feed the birds or have a favorite spot to watch them? Please share in the comments below.

"Red-bellied Woodpecker"
(C) Allen Pearson