Thursday, September 25, 2008

Black-capped Chickadees

The state bird of Massachusetts is the black-capped chickadee, and we have plenty of them, but I didn't really notice any of them at first. Sitting out on the front porch I never really noticed birds in our yard. Given that the north side of the yard is the part of the yard I see mostly from the front porch, and given that the north side of the yard is more conducive to frogs and perhaps cranes, heron or turtles and alligators (you know, things found in a swamp), I guess it isn't surprising that I don't see robins fishing for worms. I do hear robins in the canopy surrounding the house, but I've never seen them. I also hear cardinals, but again, have never seen them. I do see the crows and blue jays, and I have seen a large brownish bird going after the crows, but because it is always going after them inside the woods, I can't tell if it is an owl, hawk or falcon.

I have found it disappointing that I don't get to see birds in my yard, so I decided to take some steps to make them want to be there. Well, one step. Food. Provide it and they will come. When my best friend, Kelly, and her husband moved from NYC to the suburbs, they bought a window bird feeder that attaches to the window with suction cups. I was so taken by this feeder because you could sit at breakfast and watch the birds come have their breakfast, too. (So, yet another reason to move to the country. I couldn't legally have such a feeder attached to my windows in NYC.) I finally found a window bird feeder at the hardware store on Main Street in Great Barrington; it was their last one. I already had bird seed at home, so Mickey and I installed it, filled it up and waited. And waited. No birds were visiting. Frustrating and disappointing.

The broker who assisted us in the purchase of our house gave us a very nice housewarming gift consisting of a garden basket with three hand spades, a hose, sprinkler, a sprayer, mosquito repellant sticks you set aflame in the yard, and a gift certificate to a lawn and garden shop. While putting the gift certificate to good use purchasing bulbs that I have yet to get in the ground and gravel to patch up the front steps leading down to the street, I found a bird feeder intended for cardinals. I also discovered there was a seed mix especially for cardinals, as well. Who knew. We bought both. We hung the bird feeder up in the spruce in the front yard and replaced the generic wild bird feed in the window feeder with the cardinal mix. It wasn't long before we had action in the spruce. (Click on the photo below to enlarge it so you can see our first visitor.)

The packaging the cardinal mix came in said to also expect to see black-capped chickadees and one other bird that I forget. While I have yet to see a cardinal, the chickadees emptied the hanging bird feeder in two days. Needless to say, there are slew of them. They are a fast little bird and they don't care if you're standing under the feeder or not. They'll come and get a seed or two as long as you stand still. Fun.

It was very exciting to finally have birds flitzing through the air above the swamp, traveling back and forth between the spruce and the over growth bordering the swamp. But still no visitors to the window feeder. I decided to let the hanging bird feeder run out completely in hopes it would force the now abundant flock over to the window feeder. I'm so smart.

So my next feeder will go somewhere on the south side of the house, using the same mix, in hopes of attracting the cardinals that I hear in the canopy.