Thursday, 11 December 2014

Birds (the feathered variety).

The farmer spends a fortune on bird food.   We buy it from our feed merchants, along with the hen food and the dog and cat food.   We feed the birds all year round, but moreso in Winter - and this kind of weather especially.

They get peanuts, sunflower seeds, mixed seed, niger seed. fat balls, dried meal worms and kitchen scraps (in moderation).   The meal worms go on to the bird table and the robin guards them with his life - they are an aggressive little bird despite their pretty appearance and robins would kill for a dried meal worm!

The greater spotted woodpeckers like the peanuts best of all and when they are around all the other birds keep away - there is definitely a pecking order.

The blue, coal and great tits adore half coconut shells filled with seeds and fat.   We buy two each week and both are gone in two days.   Then they turn their attention to the niger seeds and the mixed seed.

I also throw suet on to the ground when the weather is really bad, because the blackbirds really love this.   The goldfinches and greenfinches prefer the mixed seed and the sunflower hearts.

But none of this prepares us for the biggest surprise of all - it happens every year.   Once the cooler weather comes we get - literally - a flock of pheasants.   At present we have eleven hens and one cock bird, but I have no doubt the number will increase; last year we ended up with twenty four hens.   I don't think they leave the bird table and the garden all day.   They come in and stand waiting for the poultry wheat the farmer throws down for them - they gather round his feet for it and never move away. Then they spend some time under the bird feeders hoovering up the smaller seeds which have dropped when the small birds are feeding.   Then they all go into our front, walled garden, where they scratch about in the soil for grubs. Once they have had their fill they stand about in the sun, or in bad weather they huddle under the shrubs looking thoroughly miserable.

Later in the afternoon they go back to the bird table to peck at any small seeds on the ground, and then they sit in a row on the garden wall and wait for evening.   Just before sunset they fly up into the Scots Pine Trees and roost for the night. How they manage on these very stormy nights I really don't know - they must have to cling on like mad and surely get little sleep.

I am sure if we had a hen hut for them they would probably go in it.
We just hope they stay here.   There are so many 'shoots' around the area (including ours) and if they stay here then they are safe.   It is almost as though they understand that.

But whatever the reason, we look forward to 'our' pheasants coming each year and taking up residence.   There is always at least one hen who rears her young in our front garden.   I think they must know instinctively that we mean them no harm.


Gwil W said...

It all sounds very pheasant down the farm at this time of year. We've got some sunflower seeds hanging outside. I think they provide the small birds that take them with much energy judging by the chirruping that goes on.

thelma said...

I tend to spend quite a lot on bird food as well, and the starlings feast on it, probably at the expense of the other birds. My old blackbird loves the inside of pear cores which I throw out to him, we share a pear every day!

Linda Metcalf said...

We feed the birds they will have plenty when the snow flies but more selfishly we love to watch them...we get more red birds than anything.

MorningAJ said...

Your bird table is always amazing. We daren't feed birds in our garden because both our cats are killers. So I don't entice them in.

Mary said...

Please, please please Pat - a photo of your pheasants would be so fabulous! I'm imagining them lined up on the wall, how scenic that must appear, and their 'hoovering' antics must be funny to watch, my mourning doves stay around under my feeders doing the same.

Opened the potting shed door recently and was showered with peanuts again - yes, woodpeckers love them and stuff them along the top of the door for future dining.
We buy so much seed too - very expensive here but we love caring for our wildlife.

Fortunately the feral cat population has somehow been wiped out this past year - used to have so many wandering through the garden, now they've disappeared thankfully. our the birds are safe again.

Hope the storms have subsided by now.
Hugs, Mary

Balisha said...

I have enjoyed reading about your birds...especially the pheasants. We hardly see one anymore. This used to be an area where we would see them all the time, but since the coyote population is increasing...they are sadly missing.
I've just started reading your blog...I enjoy it so.

Joanne Noragon said...

I spend too much on my birds, too, and don't begrudge them any of it. Sounds about the same at your feeders, too. I have the normal contingent of birds, and no game birds. But, you remind me of a very bad winter we had in the seventies; snow on the ground for several months. The quail came up out of the valley to use our feeders.

Anonymous said...

Oh, how nice! I am afraid I would spend far too much time watching the pheasant and not getting much done. I find birds more entertaining than TV.

Frances said...

How well you have described this seasonal bird feeding. I felt as if I could see each of the birds arrive and find its preferred treat.

I am sure that those pheasants are aware that they have a sanctuary.

Best wishes.

Mac n' Janet said...

We feed the birds too though I fear the squirrels get more than their fair share.

Yael said...

It is so beautiful. i did not know about birds feeding untill I started to read blogs. We dont do it here.
Your post is one of the wonderful posts that I ever read.

Heather said...

They certainly know when they are on to a good thing. My husband feeds the birds too with fat balls, seeds, nuts, meal worms, sultanas and porridge oats. It is interesting to notice the pecking order and we enjoy the fact that there are usually several nests of one sort or another each year in our garden - but no pheasants.

donna baker said...

I feed the birds too. The cardinals won't eat on the feeder, but come to the fallen sunflower hearts. After dark, the opossum comes and cleans up all the rest of the seeds.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Heather has given me a good idea as I have no end of sultanas left, I bought too many for my Christmas needs, so thebirds will strike lucky tomorrow when snow is forecast.
Thanks for calling everyone.

angryparsnip said...

I seem to always say this is the best post yet on your blog.
But this is the best one yet.
Now I must look up what poultry wheat is.
I would love to feed the birds who visit me but I don't want them dependent on me. Plus I have too many critters who would love to eat the left over seeds and life in my home.
Please try to take a photo of the pheasants around the Farmers feet.

cheers, parsnip

Frugal in Derbyshire said...

We have solitary cock pheasant visiting our garden. I have read that they love Jerusalem artichokes, so will try them with some. Goodness knows I have enough to spare!

it's me said...

Enjoyed reading about feeding the birds. We do too, and it gives us great pleasure especially during winter.

Maureen @ Josephina Ballerina said...

Hi Pat!
Our friends in New Jersey had the same duck couple raise a family each year in the swimming pool. Creatures of habit.
:) m & jb

Cro Magnon said...

Sadly there are no 'wild' pheasants here. Occasionally a shoot will release a dozen or so, then they are shot at once ON THE GROUND (a hanging offence in decent society).

The Weaver of Grass said...

Yes Cro - no-one in our shoot would think of shooting a pheasant on the ground, they have to be shot in the air. The pheasants are very clever and soon learn that it is best not to fly - hence our goodly crowd round the bird table.

Jayview said...

I have neighbours who feed the birds in this Melbourne suburb. The magpies line up on the fence of the man who feeds them late each afternoon. And round the corner a little old lady sits on the front step of her unit and feeds all comers. I love the song if the magpies. Sometimes we hear kookaburras. Recently there were currawongs driving out the wattlebirds. Jean