Friday, December 28, 2007

What's On The Migrant Menu?

Have you priced birdseed lately?

Your migratory snow birds may be out of luck if they are expecting a handout when they arrive.

I feed the birds some store bought rations, but only a little here and there. I find it more economical and more natural to encourage the growth of native bird food producing plants around PFHQ. Through prescribed fire, overstory pruning, and very little mowing, I've cultivated a very edgey forest with lots of open areas for forbs, grasses, and other seed producers. Bordering these open areas are shrubby bushes of yaupon holly, farkleberry, and beautyberry ... all important wildlife foods.
There's also plenty of bugs about for the more carnivorous hungry traveler.

I took a walk last week just to see what was on the menu and to decide if I should pick up the pace regarding birdfeeder filling, or let it sit mostly empty as is my preference.

Every where I went I found the dried seedheads of this fall's flower flush. The beautyberry bushes are sagging with fruit and the farkleberry has a nice crop of juicy black berries dangling from each branch. My yaupons are a little young for a heavy berry crop, but the large East Palatka holly is festooned with red berries.

Let's not forget the acorn crop which makes a stroll like walking on marbles. Amazing abundance this year, but I confess, I don't know if any migrants eat these. I know our local jays and turkeys do ... and the ever present deer.

The photo shows just a small sample of seeds and berries from beauty berry, holly, blazing star, aster, farkleberry, ironweed, etc.

It looks like there is plenty for now, so my feeder may only get a small weekly dose of seed as a supplement.
For now, the migrants will have to work for their meals, but the pickings look good.


Doug Taron said...

What's the large green thing between your index and middle fingers?

Anonymous said...

I'm reading more and more that bird-friendly food-rich habitat is better than feeders anyway. Easier where you are, I'd think, than in areas where the food basically disappears during winter but not all of the birds do.

Anonymous said...

PS: Love the new masthead photo; looks like the pelican is looking down his nose at the cormorant.

Suze said...

Which bird eats the red M&M? And better yet - which bush does it grow on? Just being silly - I bet you included it for size comparison, although your hand would have done that.....hmmmmmmm

Susan Rose said...

Hi, PF. In case your readers don't know what a beautyberry is, they can view a photo from my site. "American Beauty Berries" crop up throughout Georgia where I live. Just copy and paste the following link...

I don't comment often, but I read all of your informative and sometimes-hilarious commentary. I'm a displaced Floridian, and your site helps me remember what rural Florida is all about.

Have a great new year, and whatever you do, keep writing!

rcwbiologist said...

P-burns at PFHQs? I can't remember a post on that. I would love to see pictures and some prose on a p-burn there.

Kimberlee said...

I've been debating that issue (with myself) for years...whether or not to feed the birds up here. On the one hand, I would love to be able to get a better look at the various and amazing species that nest on the tundra in the summer months. On the other hand, I'm just not sure if it would upset some delicate environmental balance that I am oblivious to. Any ideas?...advice?

Your collection of food stuffs from your yard is really impressive! I hope the supply holds out. :)

Deb said...

Around here I feed birds, mostly because I don't think I could make it through a Minnesotarctica winter without watching the chickadees and nuthatches and grosbeaks. But yikes, I'm almost to the end of my third 50# bag of black oil sunflower, and it's running $15 a bag now!

This summer I want to begin landscaping around the new house, after we've moved in, and I'm planning on using some native, fruit bearing shrubs and trees along with evergreens for cover. But again it's partly for my selfish reasons; anything to attract birds for me to watch!

pablo said...

My planting efforts at Roundrock have shifted to more "food crops" for the critters. (I really have enuf trees -- too many really -- I could thin them some actually.)

Anonymous said...

I'm at the airport waiting for a snow delayed plane that will take me south for the winter. This snow bird is looking forward to the cardinals and song birds that frequent the bungalow yard. And then there's Hannibal who says, "seed is for the birds. Real raptors eat, ah, birds." At the Chicago brickhouse we can't feed because seed attracts (shudder) alley rats.

So, maybe you could open up your place for birding tours...

Floridacracker said...

You don't have M&M trees in the midwest?

I think a combination of the two is the best thing for the birds.Glad you like the masthead. I plan to change it more frequently from now on.

That makes two of us who were being silly. The M&M's were just for the enjoyment of the sharpeyed.

Susan Rose,
Thank you for the kind words and that great link. BB is a favorite wild plant of mine ... aptly named.

I've posted about them before, but maybe preyou. They are very small compared to professionally done fires. I don't have a suppression crew, it's just me so I pick a small area and burn it on a rotational basis. It's a winter thing so I may be doing more soon.

I wouldn't dream of giving Florida advice to an Alaskan! As far north as you are ... I didn't even know you had birds in winter.Plus, I'm no expert ... not even a serious birder. I enjoy them, but I'm not a life lister type and rarely pick up a bird field guide. Deb of Sandcreek Almanac is the bird expert around here.

If you plant it they will come. I'm not antifeeder, I just have to choose where I spend $$ these days with two girls in college. Birdseed prices just seem extremely high these days.
Plus, much of mine goes to squirrels who raid my garden too, so ...

Floridacracker said...

When you build your house at RR, you'll have more time to plant.

It would be a pretty boring bird tour right now. The woods are oddly quiet so far.
In a little while, I'll go outside and watch your plane fly over on it's way to Tampa International.

Kimberlee said...

No, the only birds up here right now are two ravens that are probably rethinking their decision to stay.

I was talking more about during the summer, but I do have a birder friend who might have some thoughts on this. I'll pick his brain one day soon.


Sharon said...

Hehe, THIS bird eats the red M&M's!! :)

threecollie said...

I would have missed the m&ms and am grateful for the less in a hurry and more sharp eyed readers...
Is our robin down there? (we miss him)
and is he staying sober and behaving himself?

Floridacracker said...

Sorry I wasn't more help.

This one too.

I've seen one flock in a nearby town. So far, no sign of your party animal.

Kimberlee said...

Hey, FC...I appreciate you responding! I think the idea of a bird feeder on the tundra is probably a new one. That's why I'm hesitant to try it. I don't want to upset the natural balance of things...although I'm not sure how delicate that balance might be.

Thanks for considering the question! :)