Saturday, January 17, 2009

Goldfinch Convention

We got some bad news on the bird front. Our bird guru, Mark McKellar, who operates Backyard Bird Center, told me my New Year's day "merlin" is actually a sharp-shinned hawk. Drats! Now I'm determined to get out and observe some merlins this year. We did have a consolation, though, Elly and I saw a brown creeper on one of our hackberry trees a few mornings ago. We've never seen one in the backyard before. This is the best picture I got of the littler bugger. He came early, so I had to shoot at a higher ISO setting (200, I think) which is pretty noisy on the Canon S2 IS. Still can't bring myself to spring for a full-blown digital-SLR though.

We're also having large groups of goldfinches at our niger feeder. All 8 perches are frequently occupied with more birds waiting their chance. One day I counted fourteen. Mark said the harsh winter up north is driving birds down to our area, including common red polls and pine siskins. Even a white-winged crossbill has been spotted. They like to flock in with gold finches, so we have decided to add more niger feeders to encourage them.

Here are several pictures showing how we have mounted the niger feeders so they can be raised and lowered easily for refilling.

I looked through my many image folders and discovered I don't have a picture of the niger feeder with 8 goldfinches at once, so that will be an image goal of mine. Here is the closest I have gotten so far -- five. This quality is more representative of what the camera can manage in good lighting.

Here is another of my favorite birds, a Carolina Wren, which obligingly posed in full sun for me this week. These visit our yard regularly, but we're trying to figure out how to encourage them to be daily visitors.


waxwing said...

I'm not getting anything at my thistle seed feeders. There are lots of pine siskins in the area, but none here. No goldfinches either.

Fiske said...


We didn't have much luck with our niger feeder until we moved it away from the feeding station (which attracts a lot of birds like starlings, grackles and blackbirds) and moved it up into the trees. Goldfinches won't go near grackles under any circumstances. They don't like to be out in the open and are much happier hanging about up in trees.

Do you ever see pine siskins or goldfinches in your yard? We've had the most luck with birds that would show up once in a long while. Chickadees are an example. We would see one once every few months. When we put in the chickadee feeder (again, up in a tree), chickadees became regular visitors. The thing is, if a particular bird never comes into your yard (for whatever reason) adding a certain type of feeder doesn't seem to help much.

Also, if you have had the same seed in the feeder for a long time, check to make sure it isn't moldy. Especially if you have had much rain, this can be a problem. Swapping it out for fresh wouldn't be a bad idea, at any rate, if it has been there for a month or so.

BTW, I follow your blog regularly. I haven't posted any comments, yet, but I am reading. I loved the gnome post. Have you watched "Chicken Run"? If not, it is a must see for gnome fanciers. :-)