Friday, January 30, 2015

In Hot Pursuit!

It has been a very active rutting season this year, starting in early November. On a rainy, dreary, cold day, we caught sight of a large buck in pursuit of a doe, that lasted over an hour.

What was remarkable is that the doe actually hid from him in the meadow. 

As the buck was rampaging around, she ran to the meadow and ducked down. After he had slowly searched for her in the meadow, walking right by her, he eventually gave up and left. 

She then raised up very slowly and carefully looked around. 

When she felt she was in the clear, she then slowly walked away, looking attentively all around her the entire way.

Also, surprising, was that a young buck suddenly emerged from the meadow shortly after she left, running away from all the action.  Clearly, he was steering clear of the dominate male, too. 

The next morning the dominate male had settled down and had paired with a female, 
who was eating nearby.

Although the photos are not sharp, as I was shooting through tinted windows, I still wanted to share these interesting observations of deer interactions and behavior. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Pileated Woodpecker's Short Visit!

On January 21, loud drumming and calls from the woods, attracted my attention. It was a sound I was familiar with, but I had not heard since my childhood.

Could it be a Pileated Woodpecker?

I dashed outside to get a closer look. There it was, hopping and flying from tree to tree enthusiastically with it's bright red crest. What a wonderful surprise, as I have never seen one in this area.

Later in the afternoon, it flew overhead, going East, to another part of the neighborhood. 

Unfortunately, I haven't seen or heard it again. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Who's coming to dinner?

On dreary and cold Sunday, January 18, with pouring and freezing rain and 27 degrees, we had over 12 different species visit our backyard feeder in just an hour, between 10 and 11:00 a.m. This is even with the main bird feeder not filled.

Here is the breakdown, including visits to the feeder. I've counted visits rather than number of different birds feeding, as it's hard to determine if it's a different bird each time.

Dark-eyed Junco - 13 visits
Song sparrow - 1
Tufted titmouse - 22
House sparrow - 5
Mourning dove - 6
Black-capped chickadee - 4
Carolina wren - 1
White-breasted nuthatch - 4
Northern cardinal - 4
Northern flicker - 1
Downy woodpecker - 2
Red-bellied woodpecker - 3

It definitely is the day for the Tufted titmice, who hung around, eating, even grooming at the feeder. The Juncos spent additional time on the ground feeding throughout the hour. They were not bothered by other visitors. The Woodpeckers came within a few minutes of each other and really filled up. In the hour, only the Tufted titmouse used the squirrel-proof feeder. By in large, the birds don't like feeding from it.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

To Feed Birds or Not?

In recent conversations and on various blog posts, I have noticed an increase in the discussion of artificial bird feeding and backyard bird feeding.

I enjoy feeding birds and watching them come to the feeders, especially during the winter months.  I have always felt I was giving them a leg up during these challenging cold months, when there is less food available for those who stay year round.

Or am I?

So, I decided to explore the topic to see what the research shows.

From the Bird Watcher's Digest article, "Does Bird Feeding Affect Bird Behavior", here are some key points summarized:

a. Raptors use bird feeders as personal feeding stations. They may do "short-stopping" rather than carry out their full migration if there is "an abundance of prey at bird feeders".

We often have a cooper's hawk that frequents the feeder area.

b. Bird feeders have increased the northern expansion of northern cardinals, tufted titmice, mourning doves and others.

I can attest to this - we have a thriving population of all of these species in the winter.

c. Several scientific studies have shown that there are "nutritional and reproductive benefits for bluejays, black-capped chickadees and tufted-titmice" that breed in the area of the bird feeders.

d. In general, birds do NOT need the extra food, but it serves as a "fast-food" outlet in times of food shortages.

e. It does increase the local squirrel populations, unless action is taken to discourage them, such as using a squirrel proof feeder, as shown here:

or this

f. Increased disease transfer is possible, if the feeders are not kept clean. It is noted, though, that birds do often feed in mixed-species flocks anyways.

g. If you decide to feed, you must be consistent, as birds come to depend on it and change their feeding habits, especially during storms and other critical times.

To read the complete story, see:

According to the article, "Artificial Bird Feeding: What we don't know", studies conducted in the UK regarding artificial feeding, have found that Great and Blue Tits lay their eggs earlier and have a shortened incubation period. Surprisingly, they may also have smaller clutches and lower hatching success.

Also, artificial feeding may cause evolutionary changes, as seen with the Black Caps in the UK, splitting up into a new species, with one migrating normally and the other migrating only a short distance. A positive outcome for those birds, who overwinter, is being closer to their breeding grounds. (

In conclusion, in trying to find a middle ground, I think, feeding during the hardest winter months
of January through March would be beneficial for our local birds.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Bee Humor

I was cleaning off my bulletin board for the new year and happily found this Argyle Sweater comic buried and thought you might enjoy: 

I found a few more to enjoy:

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Mockingbirds to Bluebirds to Native Plants

There was a flock of bluebirds this morning trying to feed on the berries on the Winterberry bushes. They were quickly chased away by a very territorial Mockingbird.

I was curious if this was a common problem and found that indeed it is, as described on the site:
Beautiful Wildlife Garden. 

The article is titled, "Mockingbird: Melodious but Mean": 

The searching unexpectedly led me to this 
amazing helpful and informative site connected to the above mentioned website about native plants:

It includes listings of nurseries that carry native plants, recommended books, where one can view native plants locally, and even native plant organizations.

I was surprised to learn that some nurseries in PA, that specialize in native plants, are actually right in my area, including:

Gino's Nursery in Wrightstown (


Collins Nursery located in Glenside (