Sep 12, 2018 | Featured in: Watching Backyard Birds, October 2018

Editor's Note: Passing Seasons

Magnolia warbler in fall plumage, photo by Bill Thompson, III.
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I don't know about you, but I feel the changing seasons keenly—especially where the birds are concerned. The only thing that helps me get over the loss of summer bird song is the helter-skelter of fall migration, with warblers and vireos, thrushes, and tanagers flitting through the backyard trees on fall mornings. Then they are gone and the backyard is mostly quiet. With cold weather's arrival here in southeastern Ohio, the windows stay shut (except on warm afternoons) and we're reduced to enjoying our birds through a pane of glass. It's like we're inside a fishbowl, looking out on the bustle of activity at our feeders. Except the birds really don't care what we're doing inside our fishbowls. They have more interesting and important things to worry about—like getting enough food and finding proper shelter.

I adore a cold winter morning when the offerings at our feeders seem to draw birds from near and far. Add a cup of coffee and I'm a happy camper. Sometimes I envy the birds their freedom and their high-energy life force. But then a Cooper's hawk zooms through the yard and nabs an unsuspecting sparrow or junco or mourning dove, and I'm kind of glad to be inside and cozy and safe. I've been feeding birds for more than 40 years now, and it never gets old, though I seem to be.

Happy fall and winter backyard birding!

Bill Thompson, III
WBB Team Captain



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  • I have experienced this when a house wren punctured 5 blue bird eggs last spring in our blue bird box. Then I hung out a wren box by the trees and he got busy filling it and left the bluebirds alone and they successfully raised another brood!
    by Susan, Sun, 07 Apr 2019
  • I also have several turkeys that live in the woods behind me. They visit early morning and near sundown. Living in the country with a mountain and brook behind my house, I have animals visiting 24hrs a day. My turkeys are awesome. They know me and wait for their breakfast. They hop up on my patio wall to look in my windows. I also noticed the 2 birds that are the lookouts. They come over to eat as the others march across my lawn to my neighbor who also feeds the animals. We also have coyotes that, I am sure, have eaten turkey dinner. The squirrels run around and chase them to protect their seeds and cracked corn. I feed my 3 raccoons peanut butter jelly sandwiches, which they share with a possum and 3 skunks, at the same time, by the way. No food goes into my garbage. Meat scraps go to crows and hawks. Everything else, even soup, gets eaten before the sun is completely set. That keeps bears away if no dishes are there to entice. I break up bread in tiny pieces now and turkeys 'gobble' it up. So happy to find another person that enjoys wildlife. Nothing is more satisfying than walking out side and spotting Daisy the skunk, calling her name and watching her tripping all over herself, running to meet you. Thank you for your valuable information.
    by Stella Kachur, Wed, 27 Mar 2019
  • This is exactly my experience. The local feed store had some on sale so I thought I'd try some. Actually I was shocked at how it is avoided, and I've been feeding birds for more than 40 years. I suppose I've never had it out as the ONLY food source, but when I put it out along with the blackoil, peanuts, cracked corn and suet cakes, absolutely nothing would touch it. Even when I dumped some on the ground the rabbits wouldn't eat it, nor would the squirrels. Eventually some turkeys and deer ate some--when they could find nothing else underneath the other feeders. But even they left plenty on the ground which they NEVER do with cracked corn, sunflower, etc.Every person should try some if they're inclined and decide for themselves since every situation may be a bit different, but for me/my species, safflower is a big no.
    by Colin Croft, Sun, 03 Mar 2019
  • I have questions about the Zick Dough? It says not to use in cold weather. It is still in the 40s here. Too soon? How long should I expect a supply to last? And, use a tray feeder? Thanks.
    by martindf, Sun, 25 Nov 2018
  • Glad I found this. I'm a snowbird and was worried about all the birds that come to feed at my birdfeeder. I have Cardinals, sparrows, doves, Blue Jays, chickadees. I hope they'll find food elsewhere while I'm gone.
    by Donna, Sat, 03 Nov 2018