I love watching birds. I'm not what would be thought of as a 'bird-watcher,' as I don't leave my house to watch them. My watching is done from my breakfast nook window and that's about all. I put up bird feeders and we attract quite a few species that way, so I am a happy little bird-watcher.
For many years, I left the feeders up year-round. It was the only way for me to get up-close-and-personal with summer birds like orioles and indigo buntings, which I see far too seldom. Unfortunately, we have chipmunks and that caused K to take the feeders down halfway through the summer a couple of years ago. If you don't know chipmunks, here are a few facts: They will empty a feeder of 2 pounds of seed in less than a couple of hours. They don't EAT what they take, they just hide the stuff for the winter--and they never remember where they put the food. That is why we have sunflowers growing all over our yard during the summer--and the only reason we don't have a field of sunflowers is the fact that we have the lawn cut regularly. Chipmunks rival rabbits in the fertility department--every year it seems as if there are another dozen that we have to deal with--they are no fun to have in the house and they dig holes/tunnels all through our backyard. And of all of the species we have roaming our yard--and that includes deer, rabbits, raccoons, skunks--the chipmunks do the most damage to our gardens. K didn't even do any planting last year because everything the year before was ruined by those little rodents. He is getting very frustrated and we don't know what to do about it. You can't discharge a firearm in the city limits--and that includes BB guns--so we can't kill them that way. Poison is not an option, because there are far too many pets that (illegally) roam, so we don't want to hurt them. And trapping just won't work--there are too many chipmunks. Our biggest problem is our neighbors: They feed the damn things year-round, so, of course, they are well-fed and have NO desire to leave the neighborhood.
So, back to what I was writing about. This past fall I decided--after a year without--I wanted my bird feeders in place for the winter. I waited until it was obvious that the chipmunks were underground for the season and placed four feeders on the posts/shepherd hooks, along with my two window feeders. All winter long I had a steady stream of chickadees and finches, with blue jays and a few other species showing up at times. But, I only needed to fill the feeders (I have very large ones, by the way) once for the entire winter, as there weren't all that many birds eating. And suddenly, about two weeks ago, the dam burst, so to speak. Since the day before our last heavy snowfall, we have had the following in the backyard: starlings, juncos, goldfinches, house finches, purple finches, blue jays, mourning doves, chickadees, nuthatches, woodpeckers, and cardinals. And there have been days when most, if not all, of these species have visited during the same day. I don't know where they all came from, but it certainly has been fun to have so much activity again. I will enjoy this while I can, because it is going to be pretty short-lived: the chipmunks have come out of hiding and will begin gathering their food supply for next winter, any day now. And K will put my feeders away for another six months.