A Busy Season at the Feeder

Our red-bellied woodpecker. He’s foreshortened in this shot because we’re looking up at him. He’s actually a lot bigger.

We had a very active season at the birdfeeder this year,  with four pairs of cardinals, a red-bellied woodpecker, and countless sparrows, chickadees, juncos, tufted titmice, bluejays, and pigeons.

Then one day I put out the sunflower seeds and nobody showed up. I guess it was the hawk, tentatively identified as a northern harrier. Well then we found the poor hawk’s body next to the driveway, dead of unknown causes, and we’ve seen quite a few of the birds return, but there seems to be only one pair of cardinals left. I guess the others perished or skedaddled.

I do like the flashy, colorful big birds, but I really put the seed out for the chickadees and sparrows and the other little guys. I always wondered how they make it through a cold winter, and the answer is they often don’t.

I was pleased to learn that a study in Wisconsin showed that black-capped chickadees with access to birdseed had a survival rate of 69 percent, compared with 37 percent for those without it.