Saturday, November 10, 2012

"God gives every bird its food, but he does not throw it into the nest."



The quote, "God gives every bird its food, but he does not throw it into the nest," which is attributed to Josiah Gilbert Holland (an American novelist and poet), is layered with meaning; but since this is not a dissertation, but rather it is a blog post (albeit a belated one as it was scheduled for yesterday) I am only focusing on one aspect of the quotation, and that is the literal translation.

Since God does not throw food into the birds' nests and since I can't see their nests, I provide food for birds that visit my urban (NYC) garden in a variety of ways; and this blog entry is a pictorial account of some of the ways I do this as well as some of the ways my visiting birds respond to my efforts, and one of my visiting mourning doves is sitting atop my one of my urban hedges and staring at me through my window as I write this because he wants to make sure his brood is included in the photo-ops within this entry. Due to the fact this posting is about birds that eat in my garden it would be hard not to include him, as the mourning doves nosh here more than any other visiting bird and often I'm concerned that their overwhelming presence will deter other feathered creatures from enjoying a bite to eat on my roof extension garden!

Birds in general have only been visiting my garden since this past summer when a visit by humming birds was brought to my attention by Juan V, who saw one of them alighting on a Heuchera plant which was growing at the northeast end of my garden. Juan's discovery prompted me to get special hummingbird feeders, which I documented in an entry on tumblr.

Images of the aforementioned humming bird feeders were also featured here on Blogger, but that was this past June, and since today's entry is dedicated to how I feed my visiting birds I've posted below a photograph of one of the humming bird feeders I had in my garden.


To my knowledge the three hummingbird feeders that I placed in my garden did not attract hummingbirds, but that does not mean they did not visit whist I was not around. In any event I eventually gave two of the hummingbird feeders to my sister to put in her garden and the other one was given to my mother. To this day these feeders still remain in the box in which I shipped them to my sister as she is evidently not a fan of birds.

In any event, my next attempt at feeding the birds was to use a bling style feeder (pictured below) that I hung on my bamboo urban hedge that in bygone years was a place for my cardinal climber and honeysuckle vines to do their gymnastics.



However, this feeder was never visited, and so I sent it to my Aunt Sandy (no relation to the recent Hurricane Sandy), who did open the box it came in, and who, with her husband, put it up and they subsequently have enjoyed seeing visiting birds nosh there.

My next attempt was a tube feeder which was suggested to me upon my noticing a lone female cardinal visiting my garden. Juan V hung the feeder from a bracket (as seen below), 





which I have on the southwest corner of my wall; and although a cardinal never came to that feeder, house finches and mourning doves began to frequent it as evidenced in a number of posts here on Blogger and entries on tumblr as well as photo-ops within TLLG's Pinterest Boards and Facebook entries, and below you will find some images which have not been posted (as of this entry) in any other venue.





The pictures posted above depict how closely — in the first days of the feeder being here — both the male (red) and female (brown) watched me from the feeder before they felt safe enough to partake in the food I offered.

But, in spite of the fact that I always put out the cardinals' favorite food I never saw them at the feeder. Then I discovered that a lone female cardinal, who I subsequently named Cam, was eating seeds — that the house finches and mourning doves had dropped —  off the "floor" of my garden as evident in the images posted below.





And she was also eating "dropped seeds" from a ledge below the feeder.



My conclusion was that Cam was apprehensive abut eating from a feeder which was so close to my door. Juan V and I had initially agreed it should be hung there for a couple of reasons: there was already a bracket there, and I wanted the feeder near my door so that in the forthcoming winter I could easily replenish it. But I decided to try putting the feeder atop a table I have on my garden and Cam did go near it for food as you can see in the images below.




She even "interacted" with the feeder in the pouring rain as seen below.



The mourning doves and house finches had no problem with the feeder when it had been on the bracket, and they continued to nosh and nosh and nosh when the feeder was on my table as seen below. However, they always gazed about to ensure their safety before eating.














Soon after the feeder became a "center piece" atop my table, I was notified that my landlord needed to do a renovation to the surface of my garden, and I was informed I needed to remove all my flowers, grasses, herbs, plants, succulents, shrubs and trees as well as my outdoor furniture and put all of the aforementioned "stuff" inside my studio apartment, which I did as you may recall from a posting here on Blogger this past September.

Fortunately my dear friend Michael helped me prep my garden and living space, for he adores birds too, and he understood my concerns that the disruption to my garden would disrupt their lives too! Feeding arrangements for them were difficult during that time but since the renovation spanned a few days I managed put to food on trays in between the work being done; and Cam (my cardinal), the house finches, and the mourning doves all adjusted and ate amidst the upheaval from my makeshift feeders as seen below.


The image above shows a few visiting birds grabbing a snack after the surface was pulled off and before the workmen came to supposedly fix everything, and the following images show a few of my visiting birds enjoying munchies in the midst of my upheaval before he final renovation was done!









And it was after the disruption to my garden that a blue jay discovered us ,


as you may know if you follow this blog, and I'll have more on his/her eating habits later in this entry, which is a "chronicle" of the various feeding methods which I have used in my garden to accommodate my visiting birds!

Having said that, as I continue with this "saga," soon after my  urban garden's renovation took place, I was given a dome feeder, a feeder which I had hoped would protect my birds' food from getting soggy as I had heard soggy food is bad for "our" feathered friends! Below are a few photo-ops of some of my house finches enjoying "meals" (but still looking around) from the dome feeder.






The dome feeder led me to questions re why Cam (my cardinal) was not eating directly from feeders, and so I called a well known bird "place" and some light was shed on my question!

It seems cardinals are "ground feeders," and therefore prefer not to avail themselves of hanging feeders or even "center piece" feeders! Their choice is to eat the food that falls to the ground or onto a tray, and so the person i contacted suggested that I attach a tray to my tube feeder (to catch the "crumbs"); but, alas, the tube feeder which I had allowed no such option, and hence I purchased a feeder with a tray attached; and I tried putting it in both places: hanging from the bracket by my door and as a "center-piece" atop my table! The following images are just a "sampling" of my visiting birds' response!








 This feeder with attached tray seemed to be a "hit" with most of my visiting birds but Cam (my cardinal) did not seem to be around to partake in the offerings, and many bird experts suggested that the reason for this could have been that she sensed the storms (Hurricane Sandy as well as a nor'easter)!

So, what's a gardener to do? In my case I called a high-end bird store in New York City and was advised about yet another feeder which had the appearance of a bird-house (as you will surmise re an image taken of it after I ultimately had it in my garden for a week or so).



In any event, the bird experts' theory was that Cam (and any of her cardinal comrades) would eat from a tray below the bird house feeder!

However, before I had a chance to try the "house-style" feeder, news of the need to prep for Hurricane Sandy ruled the media, and instead of making attempts to provide for my visiting birds with yet another feeder, my friend Michael came over to help me prepare for Hurricane Sandy, and he and I devised a way (as discussed in a prior post here on Blogger) to secure the feeder which is pictured below.




We secured my feeder by placing a "structure" over it, lest it blow away in the wind, and many birds responded well to our efforts, as you can see by the images posted below.








And as part of Hurricane Sandy prep, the dome feeder was also moved and was ultimately visited by an array of birds as seen below.






During the heavy rains and high winds brought on by Sandy, a few visiting birds availed themselves of what fell to the surface of my garden, as these particular ones prefer to eat from the ground. These included Cam (my cardinal's) male friend), and an unidentified feathered friend who some say is a sparrow; but I'm not sure as his/her belly is white. In any event, a photo-op of each one of them respectively can be seen below.


Male Cardinal Enjoys the Lunch Hour with a House Finch 
A Sparrow OR NOT a Sparrow? That is the question!
And, probably needless to say, my house finches and mourning doves not only eat from whatever feeder I have, no matter where I put it, but they also nibble from the ground as seen below (in images taken during Hurricane Sandy).





After Sandy left town, high winds still remained, so it was several days before I put my garden back in order. Moreover I left the feeding system (which Michael and I had devised) where it was during this time; however, once  replenished the feeder, I did not secure the feeder below the fireplace planter; I just set it on top, and the visiting blue jays were thrilled!





Moreover, a yet another new visitor to my garden was happy to eat anything that fell on the ground, for he/she is a tree swallow, and you can catch a glimpse of this sweet looking bird in the image below.



A few days after these last sets of images were taken the ill effects (weather wise) of Sandy subsided, and while I did not completely put my garden back in order at that time, I was able to put out the house-style feeder, a feeder I mentioned earlier in this post, and a feeder many of the birds took to immediately, as you can see from the images below.





The moving of the house-style feeder was short lived, as a few days later, New York City was slammed with a nor'easter bringing heavy rains, and I was at a loss as to how to protect my visiting birds' food from getting wet as I know soggy food is not good for them. I was able to secure the feeder on a hook near to my door which gave it some shelter; the photo-op of how I did this is not great as you can see from the images below,





but it will give you a sense of how I protected their food, which they did eat in the midst of torrents of rain — rain that ultimately turned to snow — but snow was not a deterrent to my visiting birds when it came to eating as you can surmise from the images below.






The snow has now melted, but my heart still melts for my visiting birds, and I hope I find a solution for a winter feeding system as I've heard we are in for a bitter winter.

How about you, dear reader? Do you have birds that visit where you live? How do you "take care" of them in the winter?

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