Backyard bird feeder sightings

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Stokes Select tube feeder Birds are finally using my feeder. This past May, despite living in an urban apartment complex, I hung a four-port tube feeder from the iron railing of my balcony, hoping to attract small-billed birds to my apartment windows. Now, in late September, birds have finally starting eating the “Finch Festival” mix I’ve been providing.

Atari 2600 Joust Apparently, their alternative food sources are getting scarcer. Or maybe it just took them all summer to find it. You know, like one September day a chickadee goes exploring and just happens to finally find my bird feeder. She then quickly spreads the word about the new, killer fast-food joint. “No, seriously,” she chirps, “it’s got sunflower chips, like three flavors of millet, and niger [thistle seed]. It’s good!”

Currently, cute little birds are fighting amongst themselves for a seat at my hoppin’ new restaurant. I expect something like the medieval aerial combat of Atari’s Joust to ensue shortly. Except this time it will be the birds who fashion and wield the spears, for use on each other. Yes. All because of my little bird feeder, avian gangs are forming throughout the neighborhood. Posse membership is of course determined by plumage color. Everyone stays out of the way of those nasty pterodactyls though (see Atari inset).

Most of what I’ve been seeing are “Oregon” Dark-eyed Juncos, American Goldfinches, Lesser Goldfinches, Black-capped Chickadees, and House Finches, though a small assortment of other birds (like Red-breasted Nuthatches and Chestnut-backed Chickadees) have stopped by as well.
Oregon Birds
My backyard has always had plenty of Western Scrub-Jays, European Starlings, House Sparrows, Mourning Doves, and Red-shafted Northern Flickers, but I hadn’t seen many finches, juncos, or chickadees until the past couple of weeks. The larger birds, especially sparrows, seem quite confused and rightly annoyed by the short perches on the finch feeder. Being small enough to land on a perch but slightly too tall to reach the seed ports easily, sparrows have a tendency to repeatedly, futilely bang their beaks into the polycarbonate tube instead. This causes me to cackle maniacally. If you’re interested in identifying Oregon birds, check out Paul Noll’s website.

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