Thursday, August 15, 2013

mid-August bird report

Tonight I was watering the garden and watched a chipping sparrow pluck cabbage moth larvae off my kale.  He spooked when I got too close, but came back for seconds after I'd gone inside.  I've noticed for years now that if I keep my bird feeders semi-regularly filled throughout the summer, I have noticeably fewer insect pests in the garden.  Unfortunately this also means that I haven't had any swallowtail caterpillars to raise in years.  Maybe I should plant some parsley and dill on the other side of my house, away from the bird feeders.

When I bought the house I made a point to plant some native shrubs for the wildlife, but being that I was poor the only saplings I could afford were little eight-inch sticks that I laid in the ground with a prayer.  This is the first year my serviceberry has produced any fruit.  If I were able to pick every berry as it ripened I may have gotten a cup or two total, but as it is I got one good snack at peak harvest time and left the rest for the birds.  A week or so later I saw a robin clearing up every berry left on the little tree, and that totally made my day.  The serviceberry, elderberry and viburnum are all getting big enough now that birds will perch on the branches now and then, but they still vastly prefer the dense cover of the giant lilac, or the spruce on the other side of the yard.

The chipping sparrows are already start to amass in anticipation of migration, and I've had a couple goldfinches hanging out, too.  This has also been the summer of the hummingbird, by which I mean I've had one regularly every day, and up to four at a time.  I read that while 4:1 is the correct water:sugar ratio for hummingbird nectar, you can make it a touch more concentrated so that they do not have to refuel as often.  I have basically been underfilling the measuring cups of water so that my nectar is something like 3.8:1, and now I have more hummingbirds than I've every had at this house.  They love the feeder, of course, but they also visit my  monarda, liatris, Mexican hat, and nasturtium.  I've also noticed my nasturtium are producing a healthy supply of seeds this year.  All hail pollination.