BIRD WATCH: A full yard is a delight to the eyes, ears

I BELIEVE IT is safe to say, “the gang’s all here.”

Even though I haven’t seen any goldfinches yet, they have been reported.

The only “missing” bird appears to be the Western tanager, but maybe that too is just in my yard.

Once the black-headed grosbeaks arrived on the scene, summer seemed closer than it actually is.

A warm and sunny May led many of us to think the seasons are farther along than they are.

That’s fine with me.

I like long summers.

There was no ignoring the black-headed grosbeaks’ arrival.

Every corner of the neighborhood was ringing with their over-the-top chorus.

They rival the robins when it comes to drowning out other voices.

They’re also difficult to see when they are concealed among the tree branches.

Catching a glimpse of one is a visual treat.

There are many descriptions for this bird that wears brilliant orange, black and white plumage, but a new one for me arrived in my email.

Weather conditions must have encouraged a wave of these birds to suddenly flood the region.

Reports were coming in from various areas and the delight at seeing this handsome bird was evident.

Bob mentioned that, “They sing from the woods almost all day. They come to the feeders and eat seeds and suet. … Their song from the woods is delightful. The male is beautiful in his full dress military uniform.”

I’ve never thought of the male grosbeak being attired in a uniform, but the suggestion has taken hold.

He does have a handsome, almost regal look about him.

Now, I’m wrestling with the branch of the service he best represents.

This new description coincided nicely with the date it arrived in the mail — Memorial Day.

Black-headed grosbeaks can put away sunflower seeds at warp 8 speed.

The shells fly in all directions when one or more of them visit the feeders.

They can also make large inroads in the suet or lard/oatmeal mixes.

Keeping these birds where we can enjoy watching them becomes almost an obsession.

Must not let the feeders run dry.

However, there are other ways to attract and tempt them.

Don’t forget the bird bath. It deserves extra attention at this time of the year.

We are getting dry already. Anyone working in their gardens knows that.

The dirt in many places of the yard is dry much farther down than it usually is at this time of the year.

Natural water sources are not only shrinking but some are going dry.

A bird bath, especially one with a “dripper” is music to the ears of the birds — and other wildlife such as the raccoons and squirrels.

It can be a little tricky, depending on your yard’s setup, to get a dripper working but if I can manage it, anyone can.

I wish I had an underground set-up that dripped at just the right intervals but I don’t.

I have to work the outside faucet back and forth until the dripper’s timing is just right — about the speed of water torture with a bit of a pause before each drip falls.

The sound of dripping or tumbling water works on birds like a magnet.

It pulls them in and once they know where it is, they return to the bath over and over.

Not all birds can be tempted to the feeders but all birds need water for drinking and bathing.

The antics many of them perform while bathing or waiting to bathe, are far more entertaining than the squabbles that result at the feeders.

The Western tanager hasn’t shown up yet but I’m keeping the waterfall and stream turned on because that spot is where we see them first.

Here’s hoping the “gang” are all in my yard soon.


Joan Carson’s column appears every Sunday. Contact her at P.O. Box 532, Poulsbo, WA 98370, with a self-addressed, stamped envelope for a reply. Email: joanpcarson

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