By Gary Bogue
Friday, June 23rd, 2006 at 10:15 am in wild birds.
In my Wednesday column in the Contra Costa Times, B&B of Orinda complained that most of the wild birds that normally live in her yard have disappeared over the last few weeks. I asked: Is anyone else missing their birds this year? Here are six responses:
Dear Gary: B&B from Orinda are on to something. We enjoyed a fantastic sight this time last year: three male and a dozen female pheasant traipsed out of the "wilds" behind our house and took over our backyard for the morning. What a sight to see! Since then we have had a couple of males and few females almost every day, early in the morning or at sunset, feeding on the seed I leave for them. Seeing and hearing (the males) makes for a great day. However, as our friends from Orinda observed, we have only seen one (male) pheasant in the past few weeks. Seed remains for the little tweety birds and few scrub jays that take advantage of the free meal. What gives? Love your column. (Richard & Susie in Benicia)
Dear Gary: I am surprised to read that B&B in Orinda is suffering from a lack of birds this year. I have just the opposite condition in my yard. The little birds which I feed are actually swarming around my large feeder. They empty it every other day. The Wild Birds feed store tells me that they’re hungry after nesting and feeding their babies. (J. Sutterley, cyberspace)
Dear Gary: I live in Moraga with a view of the Oakland Hills and I still have goldfinches coming to my feeders, but not as many as in the spring or winter so I am not filling my thistle feeder that often. I have lots of house finches so I fill the black oil feeders every day. I also have Nuttall’s woodpeckers, chickadees, and titmice that love the peanut suet. There are also doves and quail as well as the feisty scrub jays and one crow that looks for peanuts every evening. One thing that I haven’t seen is any baby quail although there are two pairs of quail coming to the feeders every day. They like spending time in our garden. Something seems to be killing off some of the doves because I occasionally see a pile of feathers in the yard in the morning, but I have no idea what is killing them. Does anyone have any ideas? (Nancy in Moraga) (A Cooper’s hawk is probably preying on the mourning doves. That’s their favorite food. /Gary)
Dear Gary: Per your request in Wednesday’s paper, I had a large flock of American and lesser goldfinches a couple of weeks ago, going through thistle/Niger seeds quite rapidly. They even flew over to the Premium mix and occasionally on to the suet feeder. As of this past week, the numbers have tremendously decreased. Interesting to note, their nests they always build each year, above my outdoor wall-mounted speakers, have been quiet for a few weeks; hence, the children must have flown the nest. (Carol Weldin, Alamo)
Dear Gary: In response to your Wednesday column. I was starting to think it was something I had done. I had added another feeder to my yard, and had a huge jump in the number of birds. If someone had wanted a pie I could have easily supplied the four and twenty, along with a limit or four of dove. The birds seemed to waste a lot of seed, so I changed the seed I was feeding. All this did was attract a flock of pigeons. It seemed that immediately the small birds disappeared. However after going back to the original feed, nothing has changed. There are not as many pigeons, but the other birds haven’t returned.
The Italian Cypress tree that is between my neighbor and me has always been the house finch condo of the area. This year I have not seen a finch around. Only one or two occasionally at the feeder.
The original feeder in the front of the house gets no birds at all. It was a combination bird and squirrel feeder until the last two months. The only thing that is eaten from the feeder are the sunflower seeds and peanuts if I remember to put them in.
One last thing. I have lived in Hercules for about 25 years. A few weeks ago I saw the first woodpecker. And only the one time. (Grandpaginn, Hercules)
Dear Gary: Birds are missing in the Richmond Heights area, too. No sparrows and very few finches. Blue jays and squirrels have been feasting on the sunflower seeds. The mixed bird seed is left behind. In April a beautiful black phoebe frequented my yard, but they are flycatchers. (Christine Roed, Richmond)