Recently I’ve removed the safflower and sunflower feeders, as the finch eye disease has appeared in our neighborhood in several House Finches and I don’t want to assist in its spread. Poor little finches. House Finch eye disease, a conjunctivitis which eventually causes blindness, is caused by Mycoplasma gallisepticum and is a known problem for some kinds of birds who feed at feeders, primarily types of finches. (Check out the highlighted link above for more information about this disease.) Because the House Finches rarely eat peanuts, I’m leaving my two peanut feeders up and filled for the backyard bird visitors’ eating pleasure. For what it’s worth, my garden has scads of giant sunflowers and there’s no shortage of seeds for those who partake. I’ve observed House Finches, House Sparrows, Carolina Wrens, doves–and squirrels–hanging out amongst the sunflowers, nibbling this and noshing that. I’m sorry that the disease is spreading in my neighborhood, but with the sunflowers in bloom for the pollinators and seeding out for the birds and beasts, it’s a good time to remove the feeders and let birds feed like they’re supposed to–on plants which provide nourishment.
While I’m missing the cute House Finches close-up at the feeders, other resident birds are active and worth the watching. Downy Woodpeckers like this mature female, are always ready for peanuts. They are often the first to show up most mornings.
Her back and tail feathers show a beautiful pattern.
The local male (mate of the above female?) is darling with a bit of peanut in his beak and topped by his red hat.
The Downy Woodpeckers aren’t the only woodpeckers who love peanuts. Red-bellied Woodpeckers are also fond of the legume. This female is stunning with her bright red head and her stripey black-n-white wings.
The most vocal of the neighborhood songbirds are Carolina Wrens. After singing, this one captured its treasure and dashed to a secluded spot for a quick snack.
Carolina Chickadees come and go in my garden. Right now, a male and female and their offspring are regulars at the peanut feeders.
Always, there are Blue Jays. These guys and gals enjoy all the feeder offerings, but like so many birds, snarf peanuts with glee. This juvenile got a chance at one of the feeders without any pushy adults bullying him.
I have two feeders for shelled peanuts and a ceramic pot (which was supposed to be for a plant) for unshelled peanuts. Mostly the jays and the squirrels snatch these treats, but sometimes I see a Great-tailed Grackle or a Red-bellied Woodpecker snatching a prize. I put the unshelled peanuts out first thing in the mornings; once the peanuts are gone, the birds have to wait until the next day for more of these yummies.
Like the Carolina Wrens, the Black-crested Titmice come and go at the feeders, with the summer months being a big time for feeding. This is a parent and a fledgling sharing a meal.
As summer progresses and the bird families are grown up and mostly out of the nest, eating at the feeders slows a bit. For the next six weeks or so, it’s mostly the usual suspects in the garden. By late August, there will be whispers of migratory bird activity and after flights south, the winter warblers will settle in. During those times, peanuts will remain the flavor of the months.