Jim Williams has been watching birds and writing about their antics since before "Gilligan's Island" went into reruns. Join him for his unique insights, his everyday adventures and an open conversation about the birds in your back yard and beyond.
As spring melted into summer our busy birdfeeders lost their customers. We have four tube feeders hanging on an armed (with arms, not with weapon) pole. Each is four inches in diameter and 18 inches deep. To fill them takes a lot of seed. I was delivering that seed every three to four days prior to the breeding season. Then, boom, the feeders pretty much went unused. I did not have to add seed for two weeks plus a day or two. At the end of June the birds suddenly returned, all of the usual visitors, including juveniles with wings aflutter as they beg for food. I believe the reason to be those newly hatched birds and their need for the fat and protein found in insects. Parent birds were hunting bugs. Even seed-eating species switch to insects as baby food. It would seem, given our lack of feeder activity, that the adults were eating bugs as well. When the young birds left the nest the adults resumed usual eating habits. The feeders are not as well used in summer as in other seasons, however, because of the availability of natural food. Studies have shown that throughout the year birds using feeders find about 20 percent of their daily nourishment requirement there.
Below, a young Purple Finch flutters its wings, a feed-me signal.
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