Early this year, when word of a salmonella outbreak among song birds spread, I stopped filling my bird feeders. After the risk dropped, I held off on filling the feeders as I hosted periodic gatherings with friends in my back garden - fewer birds in the vicinity reduced the frequency with which I had to scrub my outdoor furniture. Even as my friends and I got vaccinated against COVID-19 and returned to a semi-normal schedule of meeting at local restaurants, I held off refilling the feeders. But I've felt guilty every time I looked out my home office window and saw a bird land on the empty feeders. As Thanksgiving loomed, I decided there was no better time to scrub the feeders and get back to feeding the birds. It only took a day before they were back.
|Most of the avian visitors thus far have been lesser gold finches|
|Scrub jays show up periodically, scattering the smaller birds, but the weight of the larger birds causes the seed portals to close and the jays haven't figured out how to get around that|
Of course the finches and jays the weren't the only creatures to return.
|Full feeders or not, the birds have remained in the garden but the squirrels largely disappeared when the feeders were empty. This fellow showed up at the feeders almost as soon as the birds did.|
|It took him numerous tries to figure out how to get up the pole but he's yet to master the fine art of feeding from these "squirrel buster" feeders without his weight closing the seed portals|
|He keeps working at it, though, and I'm sure he'll figure out how to feed upside down one day soon, just like his predecessors|
I have three feeders in the front garden too but they've barely been touched thus far.
|These feeders contain a different seed mix but I suspect their closeness to neighborhood street traffic is what's put off both birds and squirrels|
Meanwhile, as I pondered when I should cut back the Senna bicapsularis on the north side of the garden, I spotted caterpillars of the cloudless sulphur butterflies (Phoebe sennae) munching away for the first time this year. Pruning will be delayed for at least a couple of months.
|These three were easy to spot because they were yellow and feeding at eye level. The Senna grows several feet above my head (where no flowers remain) so I imagine there are probably more I can't see. According to one source, these caterpillars molt 4 times before forming a leaf-like chrysalis. Once they form a chrysalis, it takes several weeks for them to transform into butterflies.|
Hopefully, offering the birds plenty of seed will discourage them from eating caterpillars!
For more Wednesday Vignettes, visit Anna at Flutter & Hum.
Best wishes for a wonderful Thanksgiving!
All material © 2012-2021 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party