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Old 19th July 2012, 07:18 PM   #1
WestPhilly
 
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Philadelphia, PA
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Default Urban feeder

Hi All,

Just moved into a new apartment in West Philadelphia that happens to have an awesome balcony, so I put out some bird feeders just to see what would happen, figuring urban birds could use a little support, even with a 9-acre park down the block and loads of tall trees around.

Within a week I decided to buy a third feeder, since the little brown guys of unspecified variety were getting aggressive over the ports! It's constant activity out there--nearly always at least 3-4 little guys feeding, and in the mornings I've seen up to 20 of them hanging out together!

They love to perch on my 3-level iron balcony railing, clothesline, and of course the feeders. Aside from the brown guys, I've seen a pair of cardinals, one little brown bird with a red head, and today a smaller gray and black one, plus a huge raven-sized bird with blue and brown feathers.

I have little idea what they all might be...used to know more as a kid, but haven't paid attention since. I just enjoy watching them. Like foliage here in the city, if it's green, it's good. As long as it's not invasive.

Which brings me to starlings, which are an invasive species around here, and as I love New Jersey blueberries and so do they, I definitely don't want to encourage those. I did put out a suet block today when the temperature finally dropped below 95 degrees (F) and it wouldn't melt, and one black spotted bird pecked at it, but it had a white belly so I hope it was a woodpecker and not a starling!

Since I am on the third floor, it's a perfect haven for them from cats, and they don't really have any other predators around here except the feral cats (and the few pet cats some people actually do let outside in the city). I do have gobs of squirrels, though, but an electronic rodent repeller in the window and cayenne pepper in the feed does seem to help tremendously with those.

What's crazy though, is how unbelievably hungry these critters all seem to be! I swear the little brown regulars are fatter than they were last week, and before I mixed the seed with red pepper, the squirrels were tipping the feeder and spilling seeds all over and just eating nonstop! Don't they ever get full? Am I going to create a bird obesity epidemic here in West Philly? It's really like having my own free zoo out there, it's so busy! I'm afraid I'm going to have to clean out there every single day with such heavy use!

Anyhow, it's been very entertaining so far, and I hope they do stay healthy out there, it really is like a festival every single day! Woodstock for the birds.

Last edited by WestPhilly; 19th July 2012 at 07:21 PM.
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Old 20th July 2012, 12:06 AM   #2
WestPhilly
 
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Location: Philadelphia, PA
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Default Bird ID'ing

Well, I figured it would happen eventually: after watching the little brown guys for hours this past week, I guessed I'd eventually look up what they were.

It's shocking how little info there is about birds in Philadelphia. Everything kept coming up Pennsylvania. Who in their right mind would want to know about Philadelphia itself, the dirty city?

Little do they know, it's the easiest place to get loads of birds chirping in very close proximity, with all sorts of opportunity to witness fascinating bird behavior!

Anyhow, the species I've been able to identify so far (from an old newspaper article apparently designed for suburbanites) are:

-American tree sparrow, these are by far the most numerous
-chickadee, forget which exact one, but they sure are around and sure are cute!
-a family of cardinals, male, female, and juvenile seen--gorgeous, looks almost golden
-possible northern flicker? It's got a dark spot on the throat as in the picture I saw, but I didn't see the smaller spots on the chest of the actual bird...could be the light didn't show them, or maybe they're yung'uns. Anyhow, these are not quite as numerous as the sparrows but close
-blue jay, adult and a juvenile--had no idea how HUGE these were! Saw it way up close, all these seen from about ten feet away from my kitchen.
-downy woodpecker

These last two were actually very shy. Seemed to be scoping out the locale for safety, barely pecked my suet block (well, the jay didn't peck it but sat on the feeder and sniffed it) but didn't stay. Maybe tomorrow they will feel safe enough to stay for a meal.

It used to be, the minute I moved in the kitchen they would scare away, but the sparrows etc. are getting pretty comfortable, actually, such that now I can go into the fridge right by the balcony door, cook a meal, and be moving about and talking, and they continue to feed! I even stood by the open door for a while and half of them stayed there! Got SO close, could really examine the chickadee, which was the last to flit away as I drew closer.

AMAZING! I never would have guessed at having this much variety in an urban environment. And since they are used to noise and people all around and hardly any predators (except feral and house cats), they are relatively brazen, which is excellent for close viewing. I'm afraid if I leave my door open they might come right into the house!
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Old 25th July 2012, 09:53 AM   #3
Rowena
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Location: Shropshire
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Default

wow, sounds like you are having great fun! i think natural food sources must be especially scare in your urban environment, but the park nearby will draw birds in for nesting/shelter.
not sure if this will help, but we do have a book for your area in our bookstore. not much information, but it might be relevant:
http://www.wildlifebooks.com/product...47&prd_id=5191

hope this helps!
Rowena
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