All of these pictures were taken from my desk, looking out at the front porch. These sparrows are taking a bath, and if birds can have expressions, these birds are, well, happy. I can't say I appreciate these guys as much as some of my other birds, because they tend to crowd out the more well-behaved ones and hog all the sunflower seeds. House sparrows were introduced in this country during the 1850s to control insect pests. From my bird book:
Not a true sparrow, but a weaver-finch from Eurasia and northern Africa, the House Sparrow immediately began to exploit human-modified habitats after being introduced into the US. This bird has a knack for colonizing far-flung settled areas and usurping territory from native species. Many people have seen this bird cleaning up discarded scraps around fast-food restaurants.
I stopped putting out seed that was scarfed up immediately by the House Sparrows, but I sure don't want to stop supplying black-oil sunflower seed, because the delightful chickadees and nuthatches like them also.
This is a black-capped chickadee, I think. I thought with all this color it must be a chestnut-backed chickadee, but my bird book doesn't show either one exactly. He's really friendly, though, and I think if I were to sit quietly for long enough with my hand filled with seeds, he would eventually come over and take one.
You can see the nuthatch has a much shorter tail and a little longer beak. This one has a seed in his beak making it look longer than it is. I took this picture this morning, and you can see that the sunflower seeds are pretty much gone from the feeder, thanks to the unrelenting sparrow hordes. I have now put out a small amount twice daily, and when it's gone, I would love to say it's gone, but frankly, I'm such a softie I end up putting out more. But much more parsimoniously than before!
Most of the food I provide is for these goldfinches. The male is much more brightly colored, and an occasional pine siskin shows up, as well as other finches. I have two nyjer thistle socks (like this one) and an upside-down feeder that has both small chips of sunflowers mixed with the nyjer. The sparrows can't use it, though, as they cannot hang upside down like the finches, chickadees, and nuthatches.
We also have some downy woodpeckers who come to the suet feeder. I believe this is a new one, he seems smaller than the others I've seen, but he spent quite a bit of time today chomping down the suet, as well as rat-a-tatting this tree. It's amazing to think of how it must feel to bore a hole in a tree with your head!
The other birds I see often on my porch are the spotted towhee (he's there right now), the beautiful Northern Flicker, who also loves the suet feeder, and this little guy, who I think is a juvenile grosbeak, but I can't be sure. His coloring doesn't look like the pictures, but look at that beak, what else can it be?
Anyway, I am enjoying the show, and this hobby of mine has grown beyond anything I thought it would be in the beginning. I haven't seen my hummingbird around since the flowers that attracted him have finished blooming. I put up the hummingbird feeder, but I keep changing the elixer without having had a visitor. And of course, my old friend the squirrels have kept me on my toes. What a well-visited front porch I have!