Other tasks kept us (my cat and me) from getting to Feeder Watch until around 2PM on Saturday, but we made up for it by watching for at least 90 minutes. Surprisingly, we saw only nine species during that time with the most prominent absentee being a Red-Bellied Woodpecker. They’re normally all over the suet and sunflower hearts at least four or five times a day.
However, late in the day we were treated to a Cardinal invasion when eight were seen around our sunflower feeder and under the safflower feeder. The difference between the two feeders is that the sunflower has a ring around the bottom of the seed tube that allows birds to perch while they feed (you can adjust the weight to allow heavier birds or not… ours is set to 1.4 ounces, which is plenty for multiple birds, but doesn’t let squirrels get to the seed). The safflower seed tube is in a cage, so only smaller birds (Titmouse, House Finch, Carolina Chickadee and Carolina Wren) can get into the feeding ports….but we spread loose seed on the ground for each feeder too, so ground feeders (including squirrels) have access.
The interesting thing about Cardinals is that they normally travel in pairs, so if you see the red male, look closely for his mate, or vice-versa. And the ones we had on Saturday afternoon were equally divided between the sunflower and safflower. On the safflower side they were sharing the ground with House Finches and a Carolina Wren while Titmice and Carolina Chickadees ate above them (and scattered seed to them). On the sunflower side there would be a Cardinal on the feeder ring, and another one or two on the ground, sharing seed with Juncos, White-Throated Sparrows and the ubiquitous squirrels.
The missing Red-Bellied Woodpecker turned up late on Sunday, along with a White-Breasted Nuthatch and two infrequent visitors: a Robin and a European Starling, both were interested in the suet…the Robin picking pieces off the ground, but the Starling holding onto the cage which he took his whacks.
The final total for the weekend was 16 species and 122 total birds. See Observation Tallies to date.
Note: Lee Farnham is an avid birder and a long-time participant in Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology Feeder Watch program in which more than 16,000 citizen scientists from all states and Provinces of Canada report weekly feeder activity from early November to early April.