Migratory bird day is typically observed on the second saturday in May, that would have been yesterday. This is a convenient date for the North Americas because this is the height of the migration of birds to their breeding grounds. The event is now promoted by Environment for the Americas (link at the end of the post). According to their web site they have removed the month and date from their promotional events to focus on the year. Everyday is Bird Day, they say. This give people freedom to celebrate the birds at the time that it is most appropriate for their region allowing the event to become more international in its approach.

As I am writing this post, I am torn. There are so many issues facing migratory birds and it is tempting to focus on them. This year, the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, happening at the height of the migration and the beginning of the breeding season for birds in the Gulf, is at the center of world-wide attention. Across the globe, Iraq is dealing with the drying of its wetlands putting great pressure on birds migrating north from Africa. I could make a post full of links that document pressures to bird from loss of habitat such as the Iraq article, or environmental disasters, such as the Gulf oil spill but I am not going to. At least not today. Use Google news search and you’ll find dozens.

I have decided instead to focus on what is good and positive and builds relationship rather than pity and, potentially, frustration. To celebrate “Every day is bird day” there are a number of things you can do. Let’s focus on food. As I said in an early post, a simple hopper style feeder is how I started. I was living in a second floor condo southwest of Denver. I bought a simple hopper feeder  and some inexpensive seed from one of the box pet supply stores and hung it from a hook on my entry porch. I was a hit with the house finches. One day I noticed a chickadee trying to eat from it. I went out and bought a chickadee feeder, some black oil sunflower seed, and hung another hook. I only got a few chickadees, the habitat was too barren for them, but a few of my house finches did learn how to eat like a chickadee, a source of great amusement. By the time I sold the condo I had moved up to good bird seed and a pole feeder that accommodated many feeders, all from Wild Birds Unlimited.

Now I live in the coastal bend area of south Texas and I am blessed with a beautiful mesquite in the front yard. The tree attracts a variety of birds and enables me to see birds that eat insects rather than seed. My current arrangement is several tube feeders, a hopper feeder, some hummingbird feeders and the scattering of seed on the ground for the ground feeders.

My primary guests, as of this writing are:

  • White Winged Doves ( I think I have every WWDV in the county)
  • Inca Doves
  • Mourning Doves
  • Eurasian Collared Doves (non-native)
  • English House Sparrows (non-native)
  • Pairs of nesting Northern Cardinals
  • Cowbirds
  • Golden Fronted Woodpeckers
  • Grackles: Common, Great Tailed and Boat Tailed.

These are the regulars to the diner.

This spring I have scen:

  • Dicksissel
  • Common Yellow Throat warbler
  • Summer Tanager female
  • Ruby Throated Hummingbirds
  • Black Chinned Hummingbirds
  • several Warbler species I couldn’t name
  • Wood Thrush
  • Ash Throated Flycatcher
  • Several species I couldn’t identify at all
  • Coopers Hawk

This may seem like a short list but this is what I have seen at my feeders or tree in spite of the fact that I leave for work, most days, before 7 am and miss the times when most birds are most active.

I have begun experimenting with seed and feeders to attract diversity and reduce pest species, like the White Wing Dove and Red Winged Blackbirds, that devour everything they see and keep other birds from the feeders.

Right now I am using:

  • millet sunflower blend that I am making (link for millet seed below) in the main hopper feeder and as scatter seed for ground feeders.
  • one tube feeder with safflower seed that I buy at the box pet store,
  • one with Scott’s brand colorful bird blend food (ditto on the source)
  • one with a fruit and nut mix for the cardinals and the woodpeckers. (see above)
  • a 4 door wire feeder for suet and seed block

I will let you know, as I learn, what birds favor what feeders. My current observation is that my regulars will eat at all of them if they eat at feeders at all. Migration seems a little thin this year. I am not seeing the variety that I have seen in the past.

In closing, I find birds fascinating to watch. Right now the White Winged Doves are holding a pool party in the bird baths. Make every day Bird day by setting up a feeder system to attract birds to your yard. Remember, not all birds are seed eaters. Additional birds will come to fruit and to insects. Most people start with seeds. I did and I am just now branching out. We can learn together.

What’s in your garden?

Links:

Environment for the Americas Bird Day site

Wild Birds Unlimited

Bird Seed Central

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