One thing you can say about this past year is that we’ve learned how to become travelers in our own backyard. Early in our self-imposed lockdown, I decided to get a bird feeder set up.
We have a pretty bird-friendly yard. It’s small but has a lot of cover – or what one might call a miniature Florida jungle – and we don’t use pesticides. So I thought we could create a little bird oasis and get some entertainment to boot.
After months of refinements, adding a second feeder, and endlessly manipulating the setup with arching supports and baffles to keep the rodents from helping themselves, we’ve seen some wonderful little visitors to our backyard.
Winter in Florida is always a good time to see birds, and as they migrate up north in the spring, we catch some beauties.
Just in the last two days, I’ve seen more variety than ever — rose-breasted grosbeaks, painted buntings, even a bird new to me — a northern parula. I had to look it up.
Hummingbirds have also been frequent visitors to the flowers around the feeder, and one of my favorite captures was of the moment when a bee flew into a resting hummingbird’s face and the bird told it to buzz off.
Maybe the variety of birds isn’t as vast as what one might see at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, but it’s pretty exciting for the backyard.
P.S. Because some have asked, to keep out squirrels and other rodents, we use a Squirrel Buster bird feeder, with a long, arching support hook and a wide baffle like this one. The small, round feeder requires a different, rounded baffle to keep out clever rodents.
Here’s a gallery of some of the wonderful visitors we’ve had in 2021. Roll over an image below to see its caption, and click on any photo below to start a slide show of larger images.