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Monday, January 23, 2012

Feed the Birds!

Finches on Agastache  1155
Goldfinches (I think) enjoying the seeds of Agastache 'Golden Jubilee'
Last weekend I was getting some half & half for my coffee when a flurry of activity outside caught my eye. A small flock of birds had appeared as if from nowhere, descending on the garden for a feast. For a few hours they went from plant to plant, eating their fill. Then, as quickly as they appeared, they took wing and were gone. Afterwards, it almost seems like I imagined it...the noise and activity were gone.

It was a reminder to me that although I leave the seed heads of my perennials and grasses standing because I like their winter form, they also provide a valuable food source to birds and other animals during winter. Even in winter-mild Portland, food isn't as plentiful as during the warmer months. I have no delusions that my little garden provides enough food to see any number of birds through the winter, buy every little bit helps, right?

68 comments:

  1. I like your reasoning and it's very true. Birds also love to hide in the grasses to stay warm during cold nights. I'm always reminded why I don't prune some plants back during the winter....the birds eat the dried berries. Love those goldfinches. Nice pic.

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    1. Totally...even though I usually leave them because I think they're pretty, in the back of my mind I always remember the birds!

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  2. Scott, excellent photo! I totally love your philosophy. Our feathered friends need all the assistance we can muster to get through those winter months. Bravo to you!

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    1. Totally...and since it looks nice at the same time, I'm all for it ;-)

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  3. Hi Scott,

    Lovely to see the birds enjoying your plant seeds - I find the Goldfinches here (different to US ones) also love to eat Verbena seeds :D

    (had to comment using my blogger id because it just will not accept wordpress, yet again.

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    1. You're right! They do seem to love the Verbena (as well as Echinacea and Rudbeckia). Strange about the password...hmmm, wonder what's going on :-(

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  4. I was just going to write the same as Liz. we have about a dozen goldfinches frequenting the garden at the moment and eating the verbena and teazle seeds as well as the niger at the feeding station. It's worth leaving these seed heads to see and photograph the birds.

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    1. So true...and I'm jealous of your Teasels...so pretty!

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  5. Cool! I leave seed heads in my yard, but it's an act of faith since I have never been lucky enough to see birds eating them. I'm so glad you got to witness this and were able to document it for us to enjoy along with you.

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    1. hahahaha...you know what...this was the first time I saw them myself! I never really knew if they were eating them or not until I caught them this time!

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  6. Right. Every little bit helps. I have not seen the birds eating from the seed heads in my prairie, but I can tell they enjoy the seeds that fall to the ground. Did you see the reply I left for you about the birdbath? Here is a link. http://campaniainternational.com/index.php?page=pine-meadow-birdbath

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    1. Absolutely...and since it's already there, it's a nice added benefit! I did see your reply...thanks so much! I spent quite a while perusing their website...should I be afraid since they don't list the prices?!?!?

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  7. I have flocks of white crown sparrows and other birds come to my yard every day. I can't wait to have more plants to attract all sorts of different birds and other wildlife. I want to get feeders but the good ones are so expensive.

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    1. OMG...from the looks of how your garden is shaping up, you're going to have flocks of birds in your garden soon! Yeah...feeders can be crazy-expensive!

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  8. Yes! I leave the seedheads on for a long time for the birds.

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  9. It's interesting to see the garden from a birds perspective. While it may look barren to us, it's dinner to the birds. There is no waste in nature. Some birds have episodic memories so your finches might become regulars thanks to their agastache feast. :o)

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    1. Oh, I hope you're right...they were so super-cute...and actually, there was another group of them that came by the other day! I'm seriously resisting the urge to check out a birding book from the library...stop me!

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  10. What cute little birds! I bet it was like having donuts and coffee at a little eatery for them!

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    1. Hahahahahaha...now I'm a little jealous!

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  11. I haven't seen Goldfinches around here forever. The birds cleaned out the Coneflowers weeks ago. The fact that they like Agastache seeds is another reason to add more to the garden!

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    1. Totally a good reason! They actually favored these over the Coneflowers, amazingly...I was so surprised!

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  12. Wonderful! Although I leave some seedheads for the birds, they tend to take the lazy way out and eat at my bird feeders. :-)

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    1. Hahahaha...well, we can't blame them for that, can we!

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  13. Scott,

    Yes, those are goldfinches with amazing summer color. We have them all year, but mine are still olive colored. And I love those seed heads on the agastache.

    Yael

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    1. Thanks for the positive ID, Yael! I'm so not a bird expert...so wasn't entirely sure :-)

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  14. Yes, absolutely! I leave the seed heads out there as look as possible. Those goldfinches are so lovely even in winter! I bet that made your morning coffee taste even better!

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    1. OMG...it was such a treat, for sure...I now look out that window every time I walk by...just in case they return :-)

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  15. Right on my friend... birds need to eat in this cold weather too... and, goldfinches... I have to look them up in the internet and see if they exist in Japan as well...

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    1. Hmmmm...not sure if they are in Japan...but you probably have a similar bird, I'm sure ;-)

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  16. Every bit DOES help. I leave seedheads because by the fall, I am too lazy to clean up! But it is the right thing to do, not just for birds but for an invisible army of butterfly caterpillars and many other small, absolutely essential critters and pollinators who need winter cover.

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    1. Hahahaha...then this is just a bonus! You are so right, there are so many benefits to wildlife to leave the garden standing during winter.

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  17. Scott I'm with you, I leave the garden to decay slowly and feed the birds in the winter. Come late spring, I prune and rake it up and say hello to the new sprigs. It also helps me to avoid chopping up precious bulbs with errant digging because the old stalks tell what me lies beneath. cheers! Tom

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    1. That's such a good point, Tom, I'm already bad enough at remembering not to get too excited about rooting around in the garden in springtime...I've uprooted more than a few bulbs in the process :-(

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  18. Leaving my plants stand in the winter is something I need to do more of for the birds. It is hard for this neat freak to leave them in the beds. LOL!

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    1. hahahahaha...you aren't alone, Lona...my partner HATES that I leave it all standing...I guess we know which of us is the neat-freah, huh ;-)

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  19. So you have agastaches here again. On top of that you have these exotic like birds feeding on them... The most coloured birds I have around home are robins. BTW what is half&half on coffee??
    Alberto.

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    1. Sorry, Alberto...they just have a way of popping up again and again :-) Funnily, I barely ever see robins in our area...so strange. Oh...Half & Half is just half cream/half milk :-)

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  20. Love those goldfinches. I only see them around here in the summer. They seem to like my coneflowers.

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    1. Oh yeah, Patty...the definitely love the Echinacea and Rudbeckias too :-)

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  21. They are so cute. I leave a lot of seedheads up during winter too. The birds love them.

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    1. Yay...so glad there's a network of us working for the little guys!

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  22. Cute shot! They are fun birds to watch, aren't they?!

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    1. They really are...I don't think I ever really thought much about birds before the past few years...now I find I'm more and more interested in them :-)

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    2. Hey Scott: I’ve awarded you the Versatile Blogger Award: http://bit.ly/yhCUbI. Congrats!

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  23. I know this sounds silly, but I always feel so honored when special birds come to visit my garden and nibble on my plants. They could have gone anywhere, but they chose my garden :-) How fun to watch the goldfinches on your Agastache. I know you already love it, but it makes the plant all the more special :-)

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    1. That's not silly at all...it's pretty much how I felt too (and probably why I was gushing about it to anyone who would listen that day)!

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  24. Beautiful post, Scott. I love it when we can nurture nature. Your visitors are so handsome in their golden coats. I see you're a Pinterest affectionado now! Fun isn't it? I'm going to run over and see if I can nab any of your photos. Please feel free to do the same on mine, if you haven't already.

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    1. OMG Grace...yes! The funny thing is, I signed up a month or so ago, but just really started poking around in the past week or so! I've already followed your albums...so look out!

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  25. Great shot! And, a good reminder that I should fill up the bird feeders. I forget about that in winter right when they're most dependent upon that food source. They're such cute little birds. I see them around here in summer but I suppose they're too smart to put up with my chilly winters. :)

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    1. Oh yeah...it can be hard to motivate yourself to go out and clean/fill them when it's not so pleasant out...that reminds me, I REALLY need to refill the hummingbird feeder this weekend :-)

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  26. I agree, I like the winter look. I leave it as well until the last minute. And a bonus as you point out is food for the birds!!!!

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    1. Exactly...it's a win-win for us and the birds!

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  27. what a fun experience that must have been! How cool that you got three of the birds in a photo! I am not seeing the normal assortment of birds this winter. I didn't know birds would eat agastache seeds. I'm glad I left them up.

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    1. Totally, Sue...and it's pretty rare I get to see them...they startle so easily :-)

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  28. Cute! I saw Goldfinches only once here, I have a cat that is a very good hunter so it's not safe for them.

    We have a suet feeder, they are pretty easy to fill. We have it hanging in our kitchen window so we can see the birds come, it's too high for the cat, and the squirrel has trouble reaching it. The chickadees are shy and fly off but a bunch of nuthatches came finally and just swarmed on it anyway.

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    1. Hi Hannah! Yeah...there are A LOT of cats in our neighborhood...so I always have very mixed feelings about seeing birds in the garden...sometimes I almost feel like I'm just luring them to their deaths :-( I need to get one of those feeders...sounds like it would be far safer for the birds :-)

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  29. Oh, those goldfinches are pretty little things, I'm glad they found their generous dinner in your garden :)

    I love to feed the birds during winter when it's cold and snowy and when there's nothing else to do in the garden. I make seed wreaths for them: some vegetable grease (for example coconut butter) is melt and seeds (sunflower seeds, crushed peanuts, oat) are mixed in. The mixture is put in a round cake tin and let freeze outside. Then the wreath is taken out of the mold, and all it needs is a nice ribbon around it. The wreaths look nice and are sufficient. Of course the weather should be at least refridgerator-like or the wreath will melt nastily ;)

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    1. Aren't they cute! That sounds like a great idea...I wonder if it would be cold enough here to keep it from melting...it's rarely even close to freezing :-(

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  30. We have a hummingbird feeder hanging above our deck and we've made a couple new friends this winter due to it.

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    1. Nice! I always think it's amazing that they stay here during winter...I wonder what they eat when there aren't any (or at least, many) flowers!

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  31. Ah, I'm so jealous! That's awesome. I am totally going to copy all the plants in your yard. :)

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    1. Hahahahahahahaha...if you do, you'll certainly have a few feather friends who'll thank you!

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  32. I had a lone goldfinch in the morning yesterday but it has not showed up again. I have a nyjer feeder. Any hints on why it hasn't returned?

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    1. It was my first goldfinch ever by the way.

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