Originally, my avian environment was dominated by white-winged doves, accompanied by a number of unwelcome grackles and several small sparrows and finches with a few precious cardinals and blue jays.
I am aware that in nature it is common for male birds to be more colorful than females in order for the females to be less conspicuous to predators when nesting. House finches provided some color with their very reddish heads, and while I saw more hummingbirds, they were always few and far between. Thanks to a frienda€™s gift, I added a suet feeder, which eventually attracted a woodpecker.
I have seen many changes since I started feeding the birds, but the biggest change occurred last July. On a side note, one of our new church members made us a stunningly beautiful birdhouse: orange and white with a UT theme. I used to be disappointed that we had no yellow birds a€“ until the gold finches showed up a few months ago. In the interest of brevity (too late?) Ia€™ll just mention in passing some of the other birds Ia€™ve seen here: red-winged black birds, mourning doves, white crowned sparrows, house finches, Carolina chickadees, purple martins, mockingbirds, and brown-headed cow birds. My fascination with hummingbirds has only increased since our relocation because now we see them daily.
I wrote of the birds, squirrels, and cats that frequented the oasis I had created in a once barren landscape.
Too big to perch on the feeders, pigeons cover the ground scarfing up anything dropped from above; and as I mentioned in the original essay, birds are messy eaters and send much of the feeder contents to the ground below. Squirrel proof feeders are a myth, and a 50-pound bag of Hen Scratch is a lot cheaper than Walmarta€™s birdseed. We had i??just finished lunch and I looked out the window to spy an unusual splash of color a€“ four or five painted buntings!

Well, he got moved to another pen, his old grazing area got cleaned up and fresh grass planted, and a few months ago it got new occupants a€“ five young calves.
We had just finished lunch and I looked out the window to spy an unusual splash of color a€“ four or five painted buntings!A  I had seen pictures but never expected to see one in person, much less in my own backyard.
Birdseed and hummingbird nectar had attracted a wide variety of birds, but little did I know that I was just getting started.
Male and female cardinals are easily distinguished but I have found no such difference among blue jays. I started shopping at the local feed store and included some sunflower seeds so as not to be a total cheapskate.
Whereas before we would occasionally see a cardinal, we now have i??three or four pairs of cardinals that make daily appearances. Whereas before we would occasionally see a cardinal, we now have three or four pairs of cardinals that make daily appearances.
I have learned much about identifying i??birds, and yet there always seems to be so much more to know. There are houses around most of the block but there is also a large fenced-in area in the center suitable for containing large animals.
For several days last fall, while some cardinals were migrating, we had over a dozen cardinals at once. At first I thought they were Downya€™s like we had before but realized that these were somewhat bigger. Then one day while I was observing this a€?slight change in scenery,a€? I saw something that made my Texas Orange blood tingle a€“ a full-grown longhorn with horns that span roughly 6 A? to 7 feet! I have learned much about identifying birds, and yet there always seems to be so much more to know.

A painted bunting actually looks more like a sparrow who fought a paintera€™s palette and lost.
I posted a picture and asked the question, a€?What do you call black birds with red tips on their wings?a€? I quickly received the a€?duha€? answer: red-winged blackbirds! On the day we moved in I walked to the back of our large backyard and found a horse just on the other side of the fence! Sure enough, the Hairy woodpecker has similar coloring to the Downy but is slightly larger, and according to the website, a€?at feeders they are attracted to suet and peanutsa€?!
As much as I enjoyed the spectacle, it was a pain to make enough nectar to refill the feeders two to three times a week! When I realized what I was seeing, my first thought was, a€?I hope they dona€™t leave until I get pictures!a€? They didna€™t.
I have also discovered that they are not so rare, but it was a pleasurable discovery for me nonetheless.
My research on this bird also revealed that the female more closely resembles a large sparrow (brown and white striped) than the male counterpart.
I see them in the neighborhood, but only see one in my backyard on occasion and he doesna€™t bother the feeders.
I dona€™t know if hea€™ll be here long term, or just passing through, but Ia€™m grateful that hea€™s so photogenic!

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