hungry birds

As many blog entries suggest, it’s been a long, cold, snowy winter–even for upstate New York.

We put out our bird feeders months ago, just after we moved.  Very few birds have been visiting, however.  It wasn’t that surprising this summer when there was plenty of food and the feeders were new.  But it did surprise me that we didn’t have more birds once winter hit around, oh, mid-November.

All that changed a week ago.  The occasional chickadee and junco, and the even rarer goldfinch, have given way to a large mixed flock of many birds–mostly juncos and chickadees (I counted 15 juncos at one time a few mornings ago) usually joined by a cardinal couple, several titmice, a few house finches, and the still occasional goldfinch who prefers the thistle feeder.  In addition to greater bird diversity, there’s been a lot more birds and they’ve been eating all day long.

My hypothesis is that the various seeds, berries, and other bits the birds have been eating all winter are mostly gone and they are ready for some extra food from the humans (namely, us).

This weekend I read a Cornell Lab of Ornithology newsletter article explaining that chickadees need to eat up to 50 sunflower seeds a day to survive a cold winter.  The human equivalent is 100 hamburgers! 

I’m happy to feed them and Amable has particularly enjoyed the surge in bird activity.  He watches “kitty tv” in the south-facing windows–at least when he’s not napping.

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