A variety of bird species have returned to Jaroso, CO because habitat, food, and water are being provided. It is joyous to watch them and to play a game with them called “foraging.” The intention of my neighbor and myself is support through the cold winter but not taming or dependence.
The foraging game goes like this:
- bird seed is tossed morning and late afternoon for the ground feeders but not always tossed in the same areas
- a bird feeder is only used three times during a week, moved each time to a different location, and is only filled 1/4 full. The birds have to find it (which they do quickly), sort out how to get to it (lots of exercise!), they have to share, and only get the bounty before night-roosting. My intention is to support body-fat warmth through the cold night.
- a seed bell or woodpecker bar of seed is used sparingly: hung out for an hour or two in the early morning, taken down, then put back up in the late afternoon. The one young male woodpecker and one young male nuthatch are a joy to watch at the woodpecker bar handing over my porch.
- I also have a mixture of chunky peanut butter, bird seed, crazins or raisins and will stuff a Ponderosa Pine pine cone with the mixture once or twice a week and hang it randomly with cotton twine in odd places. The birds always find it. Chickadees are first, others follow their lead.
Each of these efforts promotes foraging rather than gluttony and dependency.
There are 40% less birds in quantity and in species types than half a century ago in the US. That reduction is due to human interaction: habitat loss, poison in the food chain (pestiides) and water (creeks and rivers). Forests and meadows have become suburbs, strip malls, and highways. Giving back to the birds is not only fair but actually is necessary if they are to survive and thrive again.
These are some of the returning friends: a hairy woodpecker, white breasted nuthatch, and mountain chickadee. The chickadees are the smartest birds! The nuthatch is almost always head-first upside down (such fun to watch), and the woodpecker makes his “Heek” call when he sees the seed bar out.