2012: The Year in Birds (Part II)
Since my head may be about to explode as a result of watching cable news and reading political blogs, this seems like a good time to work on the second installment of 2012: The Year in Birds.
A summary of the year would not be complete without mentioning the wild parrots in my neighborhood, though I’ve written about them before. Presumably, they are the descendants of escaped pets. They live in the Chicago area through the winter, though it’s really hard to imagine how they’ve adapted to this climate.
When the parrots visit my yard it’s always about the peanuts. They may look out-of-place, but they don’t let anybody push them around at the peanut feeder.
A note for my fellow garden bloggers: this topic drew far more people to my blog from search engines than any other. So, for search engine optimization, just one word: parrots. And I’m not charging for that one.
2012 has been a mixed year for members of the woodpecker family in the garden. The little downy woodpeckers are an almost constant presence, helping themselves to suet and peanuts. I used to buy the suet mixed with ground peanuts, but that stuff would be wolfed down by a motley assortment of nuisance birds, mainly grackles and house sparrows. There can be a problem with plain suet melting on really hot days, but since my bird feeders are all in part shade, I haven’t seen that happen.
We also get the occasional hairy woodpecker, which looks like a downy on steroids.
On the other hand, we used to see red bellied woodpeckers and northern flickers, but they haven’t shown themselves all year. That’s a shame, because northern flickers are beautiful birds. By the way, it’s odd that red bellied woodpeckers have red necks and not red bellies. Maybe we don’t call them red necked woodpeckers because that sounds too much like a Jerry Jeff Walker song (“Up against the wall, redneck woodpeckers”).
We rarely saw nuthatches this year, but that changed dramatically a few weeks ago. Apparently, this is a year birders are calling a nuthatch invasion, especially for the smaller red breasted ones. Nuthatches are quick and charming birds. We’ve haven’t been able to get a good picture of the reds. They are another bird that loves peanuts.
Cardinals were a steady presence in the garden, as they are most years. They are particularly dramatic in a winter landscape (don’t worry, these photos are from last winter). Cardinals like fruit, and seem particularly fond of the dogwood, elderberry, viburnum, and wild currant berries.
Well, my head is cleared. Guess I can turn the tv on again.
Which backyard birds are your favorites?