Notes From a NW Ont. Backyard – Jan. 2016

A belated Happy New Year to everyone!  Hope you all had a wonderful holiday season.

Parts of January have been brutally cold but so far, it hasn’t lasted more than a couple of days … highly unusual as normally, most of January looks like this photo!  It never ceases to amaze me how easily the birds seem to handle these conditions.  You know it’s NOT easy though:  I filled the platform feeder with black oil sunflower seed, peanut halves and peanuts in the shell at least 4 times that day.

-35C Backyard

A -35C morning in the backyard

A few late season birds have made appearances in my yard here in town and my in-laws’ yard at camp, an hour into the woods from here.  A single female Red Winged Blackbird showed up on my platform feeder … she only stayed a few minutes and I have not seen her again.

Pines & RWBB

Female Red Winged Blackbird sharing platform feeder with Pine Grosbeaks

Two Common Grackles have been in my yard all winter so far.  It’s not uncommon to see them in December but they are normally gone by January.  One of them now has a severe limp and is greatly favouring its right leg/foot.  They visit my platform feeder daily.

Late Season Grackle

One of two Common Grackles that have spent the winter (so far) in my backyard.

I found this White Throated Sparrow under my mother-in-law’s feeder in Hillsport, ON … where my camp is located …. on New Year’s Day.  Up until at least last week, it was still there.

Late Season WT Sparrow

A White Throated Sparrow I discovered under my in-laws’ feeders on New Year’s Day ’16

I’m happy to report that Redpolls are finally visiting my feeders daily.  They were in the area since at least late November but it wasn’t until nearly Christmas that I finally started seeing them in the yard.  I’ve seen a number of Hoary Redpolls mixed in with the Commons …. always a treat!  I’ve been trying to coax the Redpolls to use a new nyjer feeder I have out there from Perky Pet, the sponsor of this year’s Project FeederWatch webcam season in my yard.  They are finally starting to notice it.

Hoary Redpoll

Male Hoary Redpoll outside of my porch window

Redpoll on Seedhead

Female Common Redpoll nibbling at a seed head from a Maltese Cross plant … this is the reason why I don’t cut down my flowerbeds in the fall.

Common & Hoary Redpolls

For comparison, here is a female Common Redpoll above a male Hoary Redpoll. Notice the lack of streaking and the overall ‘whiteness’ on the Hoary.

Pine and Evening Grosbeaks visit the feeders daily.  Pine Grosbeaks are in the yard almost constantly, all day long.  I see one male that has a variation in color:  he’s more orange than red.   I never get tired of listening to their lovely calls and whistles.

Webcam - PIGB

4 male Pine Grosbeaks with one female (gray).

The Evening Grosbeaks don’t visit as regularly as the Pines do.  I might see a flock of 10 or so Evenings a few times per day but they seem to move around the neighbourhood more than the Pine Grosbeaks do.

Male Evening Grosbeak

Male Evening Grosbeak

EVGB on Platform

Male Evening Grosbeaks on a snowy platform feeder

I’ve had a few other visitors to my yard and feeders.

Webcam - Crow with Peanut4

Apparently, Crows love peanuts too! Crows used to be strictly migratory up here but now, many of them stay the winter.

R. Grouse and G. Jay

Ruffed Grouse on the platform feeder with a Gray Jay on the ground below.

Hairy WP with PIGB

Pine Grosbeaks sharing the feeders with a female Hairy Woodpecker

Gray Jay

One of three Gray Jays that stop in for a snack once in a while.

BJay & EGrosbeak on birdbath

A Blue Jay (one of ten that come around daily) and an Evening Grosbeak stop together for a drink of water from the heated birdbath.

If possible, I hope you are all enjoying winter and its many wonderful sightings.  See you next month!

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22 Responses to Notes From a NW Ont. Backyard – Jan. 2016

  1. Tammie Hache says:

    Hi Ingrid, I use black oil sunflower seed, peanut halves and peanuts in the shell on my platform feeder. Both outer hanging feeders have nyjer seed in them, the log has plain peanut butter and the gazebo hanging feeder has black oil sunflower seed.

  2. Larry and Ingrid says:

    Hi Tammie,

    In your tray feeder it looks like you have raisins or cranberries for your grosbeaks? Hard to tell exactly what is in your tray feeder, what do you use.


  3. Tammie Hache says:

    I sometimes put nyjer out for the Goldies (yes, I do get them here) but I have to be careful what I put out due to bears. I put black oil sunflower seed out on the platform so I can see the summer birds …. goldies, purple finches, etc.

  4. Larry and Ingrid says:

    Do you get the American goldfinches in the summer? do you feed them nyjer? or sunflower hearts, chips?

    I only get a handful here in Calgary, but one can be hopeful this summer.

  5. Tammie Hache says:

    Glad you are enjoying the webcam! I change out the feeders every few weeks and put fresh ones out, depending on how heavily they are used. I don’t have hanging feeders out in summer ….. just the platform. Can’t really clean that in winter but it gets treated with a bleach solution in spring.

  6. Larry and Ingrid says:

    Hello Tammie,

    My wife and I just love watching the feederwatch cam and those birds, WOWEEE. I am Jealous, very.

    How often do you take the feeders down in winter and summer to clean and your tray feeder also?

    Larry and Ingrid 🙂

  7. Angie says:

    It’s the Sapsucker cam that has the goldfinches right now. Mixed you up. I live in Edmonton, I hope to see Gray Jays here one day. I am doing a lot of research on birds online etc. If you have any tips let me know you should have my email address. Have a great weekend! Thanks for your time Tammy

  8. Tammie Hache says:

    Just so you know: I do not have Goldfinches right now. I think you are mixing them up with the Redpolls that I have quite a few of right now. And yes, both outer feeders have nyjer in them …. finches love it! If you are just starting out with feeding, give it time … the birds will find you. And yes, some sparrows will eat on a platform feeder as well as the ground underneath. Good luck!

  9. Angie says:

    Thanks for your reply, yes it does help. I am just starting out with bird feeding and I am feeding black oil sunflower, sunflower chips, peanuts, and some suet. You get such beautiful goldfinches and other finches and grosbeaks, the ones I don’t get yet, but it has been a few days. I put my platform to 4 1/2 ft. I do get chickadees, a pair of house finches and blue jays so far. will some sparrows eat at the platform I wonder?
    I see(I assume) in the white and in the black hanging feeders you use nyjer. some of the goldfinches you have eat that or the sunflower you have in your platform, that is awesome.

  10. Tammie Hache says:

    Hi Angie. My full system is actually about 7 feet tall. The platform feeder is about 4 feet off the ground. Different species of birds prefer to feed at different heights. For example, most Sparrow species prefer to feed on the ground. Grosbeaks like to feed on an open platform mid level, like my feeder. Finches, etc. like to feed from hanging feeders at about 6 or 7 feet up (or higher). Hope this helps you!

  11. Angie says:

    Watched your bird cam, but never realized that all your set up is very close to the ground from the photo on this blog. How high is your platform feeder from the ground. Is it better to have all feeders lower than 5 ft or 7 ft.?

  12. Rosie LaLonde says:

    I have a robin in my yard this week and am wondering what would be good to feed him. I know they like raisins. Would he go to the platform feeder if I put those out? He has been at my birdbath every day.
    I think he must be a Canada robin who came south!
    We are in northern Illinois by the lake.

  13. Tammie Hache says:

    Thanks, Marlene … glad you enjoy it!

  14. Marlene Turner says:

    As usual, love your photos, especially the last one with blue jay and evening grosbeak at birdbath. We are indeed fortunately for the webcam and what you accomplish and share. Thanks again!!!.

  15. Tammie Hache says:

    My feeder system is designed to be squirrel resistant … built from 4″ plastic tubing that they cannot climb. They can, however, sometimes jump from nearby plantings that are now nearly big enough!

  16. Rosie LaLonde says:

    I love watching your feeders. Such different birds (and some similar) to the birds we see in northern Illinois this time of year. I don’t see many squirrels on your platform feeder—just once in awhile. Even though we have our feeder hanging away from trees and up high, they still manage to get on ours! And, we have a corn cob feeder just for them to keep them happy and away from the feeders.

  17. Tammie Hache says:

    Glad I can help, Gail! 🙂

  18. Jim and Fran Askey says:

    Hi Tammie what a great bunch of birds at your feeder’s. We envy you.

  19. Gail says:

    Love reading your articles, Tammie. Glad I now have signed up for your Blog. You’re a wealth of information on our Birds here in the Wadge. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. We were getting Blue Jay and Hairys now and then when we had peanuts out (learned from your articles), but we had to stop as a new local tiny red squirrel was emptying our feeders 2 or 3 times per day and hoarding them. So now not seeing Blue Jay or Hairys much. 🙂 Thanks again

  20. Marcia Stager says:

    Love your pictures and the narrative.