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Monday, September 19, 2011

Quiet time

It was a lot quieter in the yard today.  Many of the migrants that had been a part of the scene over the last couple of weeks seem to have moved on.  Not the hummers though.  There were still perhaps ten of the little guys (as best I could count) hanging around today and chasing each other through the shrubbery, including the little tail-twitcher who might be a Black-chinned.  The female Rufous that was here earlier, though, has definitely moved on.

The birds that remain, other than the hummers, are going about their business rather quietly.  There are no extended bursts of singing, just a soft twitter now and then, unless the Blue Jays spy the Cooper's Hawk lurking about, of course.  Then pandemonium reigns until the hawk is routed and sent on his way.

The birds are still hitting the bird feeders hard.  After I refill them, the seeds last for about two days.  Then it's time to fill up again.

I've noticed, too, that even some of the wild feed in my yard is disappearing more quickly than usual this summer.

The pokeberries, which are a soft berry much favored by Northern Mockingbirds, in particular, are long gone.

But I noticed just yesterday that the beautyberries, which are hard berries that usually last into winter, have already been devoured as well.  I have several of the shrubs that have these purple berries and they are usually the last of the wild fruit to go.  I suspect that not only the birds but some of the small mammals have been eating them this summer.

The birds, in the past, have shown a preference for the white variety of beautyberry.  I only have one shrub which has the white berries and they were all picked clean by the middle of last week.

One seed crop which may be a boon to winter birds this year is the crape myrtle.  The seeds of this ubiquitous shrub/tree are highly favored by members of the finch family and, in fact, by all of my backyard seed-eating birds.  The crapes have been full of blooms this summer and should have an excellent crop of seeds this winter if we can just restrain gardeners from committing "crape murder" by topping their trees.  It really is important to leave these seeds for the birds to eat.  There'll still be plenty of time to prune your crape myrtle - if you insist on it - in the late winter.

The American Goldfinches generally spend weeks in the late fall picking out crape myrtle seeds before they ever turn to my thistle and sunflower seed feeders.

If you've got seeds or berries in your landscape plants, be sure you leave them for the birds and other animals to munch on.  Don't even think of pruning them off now.  This year, more than ever, wildlife will need them.

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