Sunday, March 22, 2015

Keeping Little Creatures Alive

Our winter was mild here in New England until late January, and then all hell broke loose in the form of three huge snowfalls, cold, and more snowfalls of several inches.  It snowed practically every day.  When it didn't, we would race to the grocery store, drugstore, and pet store (cat food).  We also visited the various stores in our area that sold birdseed and suet.
 suet.   Image

It became obvious that if the neighborhood didn't feed the birds they would die.  We put seed and suet (in feeders) out on the front porch which was the only area not covered by 5-6 feet of snow.  The birds came and came and came.  Before the big snows, I had noticed a pair of Carolina Wrens hanging out in the stack of firewood on the front porch.  Once I had identified them, I became concerned because they eat bugs and insects and well, there weren't any except for a couple dead bugs I found in the house.

 Petco - Where the healthy pets go.

I thought about Mealy Worms,  but that seemed like it would be a hassle and maybe even an expensive hassle, so  I put a few chicken bones with little scraps of meat on them atop the woodpile and in a few chinks.  The wrens were observed pecking away.  It seemed kind of like cannabalism, but I continued to feed them from chicken and turkey bones and once some sauteed ground pork (with no salt or seasonings).  Of course the titmouse found some of the meat and the wrens also ate suet.
C&S® Hi Energy Large Suet Cake
Many winter birds eat suet.

We've had hairy and downy woodpeckers, the titmice, juncos (lots of juncos), nuthatches (what we call the "Upside Down Bird,") and beaucoup chickadees. There's a sparrow or two which I haven't identified.  A small flock of turtle doves comes to eat, as do bluejays and cardinals.  Rabbits visit, and something gnaws the old gourd left over from Halloween.  The carrot tops have been ignored.  Of course the squirrels come and I have noticed that the chipmunks are no longer hibernating.  Hoping they don't move into the woodpile and displace the Carolina Wrens.  No doubt the corn will become more popular.  A couple of house finches have been seen on the feeder too. 

Carolina Wren Photo
Carolina Wren

In addition to the feeders, we strew seed in the snow and all the porch railing.  When all the snow melts, there will be a couple pounds of sunflower seed hulls to sweep away.  They will probably make good mulch and soil conditioner. 
We haven't seen the flock of wild turkeys since fall, and I can only hope they are finding something to eat somewhere.  Last seen, the flock had twenty birds including one that is lame.

Do you feed the birds in winter?  We always do, but this year it's been a MISSION.

The upside down bird. 

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