That’s the first thing out of my mouth when I get a chance to sit down and watch my feeders. I know the bird feeder is there to attract birds and I probably know the bird’s name but all I really care about is “bird!” with a slight chance of “ooh BIG bird” or “aah little bird.”
My mind goes blank every time someone visits me at the Wild Birds Unlimited East Lansing store and asks me if I’ve seen any new birds. So I thought I’d take a minute to organize a better answer than “I’m sure I have.”
Over the last two months, I have seen a superabundance of birds in the mid-Michigan area. Some of the hummingbirds, orioles, grosbeaks, buntings, and wrens have already moved down south. Lots of people reported to me that these birds left a little later than usual. This was probably because we had such a cold spring, and they started nesting a little later than usual.
I’ve seen sprinkles of warblers and thrushes, and I’ve also enjoyed watching the deluge of sparrows including Song Sparrows, Chipping Sparrows, and White-throated Sparrows as they passed through my yard. For some reason this year I missed the White-crowned Sparrows.
A few of the new arrivals you can watch for include the Dark-eyed Juncos, Red-breasted Nuthatches, and Cedar Waxwings. Last year we had huge irruptions of Pine Siskins, but according to Ron Pittaway's Winter Finch Forecast 2009-2010 there will be no major influx of finches for mid-Michigan because of the healthy cone crops in Canada this winter. I’m happy they’ll have a lot of food but I’ll miss seeing the flurry of activity their added numbers created at the feeder.
So far it's been a fairly mild fall, but I have been noticing an increase in activity as the days get shorter and the nights get longer and cooler. I have been impressed with the numbers of woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches and hawks that have visited more frequently along with my usual feeder friends the cardinals, sparrows, finches, jays, and doves.
I probably look out the window hundreds of times a day and see a different picture every time. You can learn a lot by observing the behavior of wild birds and you can also bird watch to gain a genuine sense of happiness and inner peace as I do.