After putting up the new bird feeder over a week ago and being really happy when birds actually started using it, a new part of my morning routine has become peeking between the blinds to check on the feeder (since opening the blinds sends the birds scattering, and I’d only just have to close them again before I left). I only caught birds actually at the feeder when I peeked once, but I could notice from day to day the level of seed in the feeder decreasing at a noticeable rate. Which was good news, since the other style of feeder we had up all summer never had the seed level decrease the whole time.
On Friday, a work-from-home day, I had the blinds open all day. The birds flew away when I opened, of course, but soon came back. There were several points in the day Friday when there were between three and four small birds arrayed around the perch of the feeder, and three or four more on the deck under the feeder pecking up seeds. A couple of times a crow would fly up and intentionally chase the other birds away, then it would land on the deck and eat a bunch of the spilled seeds. At one point there were two crows on the deck both amicably eating, put when a third crow landed on the rail, the other two leapt at it, cawing and flapping noisily. Earlier in the summer I had deduced that there was a mated pair of crows with a nest in one of the big evergreens behind us, so I suspect the two that were happy to share the deck are that pair.
The feeder’s package had said it held up to two pounds of seeds. I’d filled it completely full Saturday before last, and by this last Saturday, the feeder was a bit less than half full. So Saturday afternoon I took the big bag of seed out to top off the feeder. There were a couple of birds on the feeder and at least one on the deck when I opened the sliding glass door. They scattered immediately, but landed on the branches nearby and chirped at me rather insistently. I interpreted it as them trying to get me to leave so they could get back to eating.
Anyway, while I was getting the feeder down and such, I managed to spill maybe half to three-quarters of a cup worth of the seeds from the bag in a spot right next to where I was working. I filled up the feeder, hung it back up, resealed the bag and put it away, then came back out with the broom and dustpan. I had already planned to sweep the whole deck. The birds scatter a lot of seeds in the course of eating. And they get everywhere. It’s the only thing worse than pine needles. I swept up everything except the little pile where I had spilled, and once it was altogether I only had one dustpan full. And about half of the volume of what I had was the aforementioned pine needles. So while they knock a lot of the seeds out of the feeder while they’re eating, they also eat a lot of the spilled seeds.
So, they appear to go through about a pound of seed a week.
Once I had finished sweeping and put the deck furniture and such back to their usual positions, I then scattered my spilt pile under the feeder. My reasoning being that the seeds on the deck will rot once they get damp, but a lot of the birds like to feed from the deck rather than the feeder (some times I look out and there are none on the feeder, but several on the deck pecking away). I probably won’t intentionally scatter any seeds on the deck in the future (unless I have another spill). But I do have to note that on Sunday afternoon when I went out, it was clear that the birds had eaten most of what I spilled. There were seeds on the deck, but it looked like their initial scatter had after a day last week.
I need to try to get more good pictures and see if I can identify them better. The black-headed chickadees were easy to identify, but none of the others are an exact match of the pictures of any other birds in my Audubon book. I think most of them are sparrows, but I also hear the distinct “chick-a-dee” style trilling when I don’t see any black-headed chickadees out there, so maybe we’ve got some other species of chick-a-dees, too.