Welcome Back, Winter Birds!

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This morning Squirt twisted my paw into eating my cereal out on the porch.  Gosh I’m glad he did.  We had a wonderful half hour of porch-birding while Whiskey prowled for lizards.

Our first sighting was a pair of Gray Catbirds.  That’s right, the gray cat saw his first-of-fall Gray Catbirds!  We were so excited that I went yelping into the house, “Rich! The catbirds are here! The catbirds are here!”  Then we watched together as the mockingbird tried to chase the catbirds out of the yard.  The mockingbird is very possessive of his dish of mealworms, and over the last week, he’s gotten to the point that he chases away all the little birds who approach the feeders.  That’s not fair!  So I fixed the mockingbird’s wicket, and moved the mealworms to their own post.  Now he can be possessive of that post and leave everybody at the other feeders alone. :)

Northern Mockingbird: Defender of the Mealworm Dish!
Northern Mockingbird: Defender of the Mealworm Dish!

All around us were the chipping calls of the Palm Warblers, all recent arrivals to the neighborhood.  Goldy had her first sighting of Mr. Warbles a day or two before the storm.  (Which bird is Mr. Warbles? The warbler who comes up to Goldy’s window and says hello, of course!)  This morning, only one or two warblers found their way to the backyard, but I could hear their calls from the oak trees all around the neighborhood.  Bow Tie, our neighborhood Yellow-throated Warbler, could be heard also.

Blue-gray Gnatcatchers are not at all uncommon in Florida, but it was unusual to have two of them chasing each other in the backyard this morning.  Whiskey got all excited when one landed in a close tree.

House Wren Steals a Worm (Don't tell the mockingbird!)
House Wren Steals a Worm (Don’t tell the mockingbird!)

Another new arrival was the pair of House Wrens who filled the yard with their loud fussing calls.  Sssh!  Don’t tell the mockingbirds, but the wrens were big fans of the mealworms also.  They hopped to the top of the pole, stood for a minute, then jumped down to the dish and stole a worm.  Repeatedly.  I guess they didn’t know — or didn’t care! — that those mealworms were already claimed.

Friends at the Feeder (Male Painted Bunting and Female House Finch)
Friends at the Feeder (Male Painted Bunting and Female House Finch)

Yep, my male Painted Bunting made it through the storm.  I saw him feeding his face at the feeders yesterday.  The cold front must have brought his lady friend down to join him.  She was my first greenie of the season.  It’s so nice to welcome all my birdie friends back to the yard!

Not all the customers have wings.  The rabbits in the neighborhood love to sample my weeds.  They are so cute that I can’t complain.  I had gotten my ground tray feeder out after the storm, and I filled it with food before I had a chance to clean out the tube feeders.  Well, the rabbit thought the tray feeder was very convenient!  On second thought, maybe that feeder won’t stay out very long.  There’s plenty of seed on the ground, courtesy of the doves that spray it everywhere…

Wingless Customer - a bunny for one of my favorite people on her birthday!
Wingless Customer – a bunny for one of my favorite people on her birthday!

Other birds that I heard this morning included our neighborhood Northern Cardinals, a Red-bellied Woodpecker who seems to have taken up his winter residence nearby (I guess our trees are getting big enough to be enticing to woodpeckers!), a pair of Sandhill Cranes, and an unidentified Swallow flying overhead.

Mrs. Cardinal
Mrs. Cardinal

Squirt and I finished breakfast and enjoyed the peaceful calm of the dawn.  Then I pretended not to notice when he licked up the last drops of milk from my cereal bowl.  Hey, the Gray Cat had to celebrate the return of his favorite Gray Catbirds!

2 thoughts on “Welcome Back, Winter Birds!

  1. I’ve come to your blog so many times to identify a bird I’ve spotted in my garden. You have really created something special here.

    Just wondering where you get your mealworms . . . are they the freeze dried ones? If so, do you soak them in water?

    Super jealous of the painted hauntings. :-) I’ve yet to see one here in Lakeland.

    1. Thanks for reading, Elizabeth!

      I get my dried mealworms at Lowes. Live ones are available at my local Wild Birds Unlimited, but Lowes is closer. Besides, it’s fun to watch the confusion on the cashier’s face when he realizes that they sell dead worms! :) I used to soak the dried worms in water before putting them out, then I realized that the birds gobble up the dry ones just as quickly. Now’s a good time to put mealworms out. My mockingbirds, brown thrashers, and house wrens love them! If you have bluebirds around, they love mealworms too.

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