The temperatures dropped and the gang showed up. Several flocks of little yellow birds arrived to chow down at the feeders and pick bugs from the trees. There were Pine Warblers, Orange Crowned Warblers, Yellow Rumps and Goldfinches.
As it turns out, the finches will only eat fresh Nyjer seed and I had to quickly run to the store to grab a bag. The knowlegable staff told me I could freeze the seed for next year. The Nyjer seed is expensive and the birds are usually gone before they finish a bag. Another feeder is full of sunflower seeds that give the birds the energy they need.
Another winter visitor that has been around for some time is a Rufus Hummingbird. I have enough blooming flowers in the winter to attact the hummer and I supplement with a sugar water feeder. On these cold days I make sure I have the feeder out before dawn.
I set up a hummingbird feeder to attract a Ruby Crowned Kinglet, but instead a Yellow-rumped Warbler came.
This bird is loving the sugar water and visits from sunrise to sunset. It has found a couple ways to get the drips of sugar from the feeder.
The Yellow-rump is so sugar addicted, it even will try to use the hanging feeders shown in a previous post. When the bird is not indulging in sugar, it likes to tap on my kitchen window and chase other birds.
The cool winter months brought some northern visitors to the Automatic Garden. They were attracted by the flowering plants, but the supplemental sugar really kept them happy. From dawn to dusk the sugar birds could not leave the sweet nectar. It is not unusual for a Rufous Hummingbird to enjoy the liquid sugar, even a Ruby-crowned Kinglet will indulge, but I really think it might have been a new experience for the Yellow-rumped Warbler, who could not leave the feeder and spent a lot of energy chasing the rest away.
I was afraid that the birds may not be able to break their sugar addiction, but the weather changed and nature called them back to their northern homes.
And as the seasons always return, so did the Ruby Throated Hummingbirds taking their place at the feeders and flowers.
Look who figured out how to use a nectar feeder! After about a week of exploration and observation, Yellow-rumped Warbler mastered hovering.
The setting is a peaceful garden bed.
Sweet little Ruby-crowned Kinglet has been enjoying the sugar water feeder and yummy bugs.
And then Yellow-rumped Warbler arrives and sees that Ruby-crowned has a sweet set up. Unfortunately, he can’t quite figure out how to use the feeder. Regardless, he will not let Ruby-crowned use it and chases her off every time she comes near.
Yellow-rumped has to get his sugar high from licking the drips from the ground.
Meanwhile, the tiny Rufous Hummingbird also has to have his share of the sweet stuff and chases the bigger birds away with his needle-like beak.
As I had mentioned in a previous blog, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet had shown up in the garden and I put some nectar out in a hummingbird feeder. I found the Kinglet only likes that shape of feeder tube and needs to have something to land on, as they cannot flutter for long. Male Kinglets have a red tuft of feathers on their heads that they show when startled. They winter here on the Gulf Coast.
I have the feeder set up outside my kitchen window and I am entertained while eating or working at the kitchen table. I also took all the photos through the window, which made it difficult to get good shots, not to mention that these birds do not hold still for long.
I soon noticed a Rufous Hummingbird using the feeder. It was the first time this winter that I have seen one. These Hummingbirds spend their summers in the northwest, which is why they can tolerate some of our “cold” days. Little tiny Hummingbirds can be quite aggressive and the Rufous would chase the Ruby-crowned from the feeder.
And then, the Yellow-rumped Warbler showed up. Usually, these Yellow-rumped stick together and forage in the trees looking for bugs. They especially like Wax Myrtle berries that are now ripe and are probably the reason they are hanging out in the Automatic Garden.
This Warbler has developed a bad case of sugar addiction. He comes by several times an hour and the bird does not want to share! The Warbler knows the sweet water comes from the feeder, but can’t quite figure out how to get it. He has been studying and exploring the bottle for days. As I was writing this, he did try to flutter and drink from the tube, but immediately flew off, so he probably was not successful. The last photo shows a little bit of his yellow rump. When the Warbler’s wings are open the spot is about the size of a quarter.
The little actors are still putting on their drama and it is time to fill the feeder so the show will go on!