We have great habitat for birds at Chaetura Canyon that provides shelter and food. However, we are real suckers for having them feed up close and personal – basically so that we can see them from our large “Bird Window” where they are eating while we are eating our own breakfast and lunch.
A quick note about the “Bird Window”. For those of you who have not been to the Canyon, the 4’ x 6’ double-paned, insulated window takes up a big part of the wall on the south side of our house. When we installed it, we were inspired by the birding blind at the Davis Mountains State Park: it is slanted outwards on the top, so the reflection is of the ground and not the surrounding vegetation. This minimizes window strikes.
The Bird Window gives us an excellent view of our plethora of feeders creating an avian smorgasbord complete with live mealworms, thistle, millet, black oil sunflower, shelled sunflower, safflower, cracked and whole peanuts and “Mama C’s Cardinal Cookie Dough”: Georgean’s recipe for a peanut butter mix. The mix is not only placed in feeder logs with holes drilled but also in big clumps in a hanging dish for all to enjoy. And the birds do enjoy it!
Initially the peanut butter feeders were frequented by those we expected to see: Northern Cardinals, Black-crested Titmice and Carolina Chickadees. However, the primarily seed-eaters were soon joined by Bewick’s and Carolina Wrens. During the first winter that the peanut butter feeders were up, they were visited, surprisingly, by insect-eating Yellow-rumped Warblers and then Orange-crowned Warblers. The Yellow-rumped Warblers became absolutely possessive of the feeders, so even larger species were hard-pressed to take a share. We were initially surprised by the mixed species we have now become accustomed to seeing enjoying the peanut butter mix, including both Golden-fronted and Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Woodhouse’s Scrub Jay, House Finch, Pine Siskin and Lesser Goldfinch.
This month, two new and very unexpected guests joined the feast: Northern Mockingbird and Hermit Thrush. How did they know it would be good to eat? Because there is no perch on the log feeder, the Texas State Bird and a winter resident had to figure out a way to get at the good stuff. At any rate, persistence paid off. The first method was to hover briefly at the feeder log and pick off bits. But that did not yield enough to satisfy the appetite. Eventually the innovative mocker and shortly later the thrush learned to grab hold of an S hook hanging near the feeder log where they could eat their fill. Birds are amazingly innovative when it comes to finding food!
Well, we all find our favorite restaurants!!
Georgean and Paul Kyle
Chaetura Canyon Stewards
Mama C’s Cardinal Cookie Dough
3/4 cup “crunchy” peanut butter
1/4 cup shortening
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup oatmeal (not instant)
Cream together shortening and peanut butter.
Stir in cornmeal and oatmeal.
Fill holes in the log feeder.
Refrigerate the unused portion of Mama C’s Cardinal Cookie Dough until needed.
Featured Image (above) of a Yellow-rumped Warbler on the Kyles’ feeder log. Photo courtesy of the Kyles.