My Photo

Keep Up


    christiekeith's items Go to christiekeith's photostream

« May cause redness and irritation | Main | Vick ' s dogs: Background on the evaluation process »

09 December 2007


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Carol PW

The problem with both the Audubon and Cornell projects is you need to be able to identify the little suckers. I can identify most waterfowl, gamebirds and raptors (and robins, house wrens, quail, starlings and jays) but with most of my small visitors it’s “oh, that’s a nice yellow bird” or they’re LBJs (little brown jobs). And I get to use my limited bird identifying skills when a raptor hits one of the LBJs for lunch. Several years ago, I nuked the lawn and put in bird, bee and butterfly-friendly flowers and grasses. My friend and colleague, who is an avid birder and can identify ALL of the LBJs, tells me I now have birds visiting my yard that are extremely rare in our area.

Approaches to mitigating for the difficulties we have caused avian species by our activities include contributing to the data and/or repairing habitat loss. As an avid gardener I chose the one for which I was best suited, because I would rather provide the birds with dinner than figure out who they are.


While I'm hardly an expert, I've enjoyed birds for over 20 years. My brother has a degree in ornithology, and he was the first person to introduce me to the hobby. I bought myself some binoculars and Peterson guide to birds, and began learning more about our little winged marvels. During the winter typically I have several feeders running, all of which I can see from my front window. My cats love to watch their "kitty TV", and my sons have been growing up with birds as regular visitors.

Typically I have two tube feeders with a peanut/safflower/sunflower seed mix. This brings in nuthatches, chickadees, tufted titmice, cardinals, jays and other little pals. A globe feeder with sunflower seeds is a favorite of the chickadees, titmice, and four-footed birds with bushy tails. Goldfinches visit the tube feeder with thistle seed, sometimes ten at a time. Leftover kitchen fats are mixed with bits of stale cereal for a suet treat. This is a favorite of woodpeckers (downy, hairy, red-bellied and flickers). Finally, ground feeding mourning doves, juncos, wrens, cardinals, and wild turkeys feast on cracked corn scattered on the ground.

Among all the little visitors are an assortment of sparrows and other small birds which I've never learned to identify. I appears that Carol's LBJ's (Little brown jobs)visit us too!

Colorado transplant

I feed the birds everyday. I do not know what kind of birds I am attracting, except for the blue jays, doves, and crows. I put out black-oil seeds, approx. 50 lbs. a week.

The squirrels are happy, the birds are happy, and that makes me happy.

For me, I do not need to know what kind is visiting.

I have so many other duties to attend to. And I am still feeling low because my veterinarian technician chastised me for giving "table scraps" to my cat who had diarrhea. According to her, only cat food is good for my cat. Huh!

Luckily, I spoke to another vet who said that is antiquated thinking. I am on the mend, mood-wise.

As to birds, is "scraps" of bread good for them? And I am afraid my cat will devour the bread.

What dilemnas!

Susan Fox

I've been a bird watcher for over twenty years, although my main interest is mammals. It is so encouraging to know that more and more people are becoming interested. Birds need all the habitat enhancement they can get!

We were able to put a large pond (approx. 50'x50, over 4 feet deep at one end) at one end of our acre and in the first year we've had a resident black phoebe, the local blue heron who we have learned is called "Bill", a great egret, a belted kingfisher and the piece de resistance, believe it or not, a juvenile osprey. We created a couple of gravel beaches where the water is shallow and have seen robins, juncos and ravens bathing there. There is also a bog garden, which is adjacent and connected to the larger pond which is planted with native cattail, tules and yellow flag iris. Mosquito control is provided by mosquito fish. There are also goldfish who have survived because we provided hiding places by piling tree branches in the water along part of the edge.It is as natural as we can make it and the size has eliminated any need for a filter. It is lined with 45mm butyl rubber, rated for 30+ years.

We knew that we had a balanced ecosystem when the frogs showed up last spring, made a wonderful racket for a few weeks and laid enough eggs to create a gazillion tadpoles. Amphibians are very sensitive to water quality, so we are very pleased that our pond met the standard. Of course, a lot of those tadpoles and careless baby frogs are part of the reason why many of the aforementioned birds have shown up.

Some of the other species we get or have seen are Steller's jays, northern flickers, song sparrows, white-crowned parrows,chestnut-backed chickadees, Anna's hummingbirds, Allen's hummingbirds and rufous hummingbirds,acorn woodpeckers, pileated woodpeckers, a merlin, a red-shouldered hawk and a northern goshawk.

So, we are fortunate to have the privilege of sitting on our patio with binoculars birdwatching through the year. We use Sibley's and the National Geographic bird guides.

We had our backyard certified by the National Wildlife Federation whose goal is to certify 100,000 Backyard Wildlife Habitats. They are currently at over 90,000. It's pretty easy. You fill out a form that states that your yard provides food, water, cover and places to raise young. The website,, has lots of information on how to do it. Click "Outside in Nature" and then "Gardening for Wildlife". Any yard, no matter how small, can provide the basics for birds.

Finally, we do have outdoor cats and are avoiding planting heavy cover near the gravel beaches which we know will attract the birds. They all seem to find gopher hunting much more interesting anyway.

Gina Spadafori

I was an active birder when I was living on the Gulf Coast, south of Tallahassee. I was right in the middle of some of the best birding in the world, right by the St. Mark's National Wildlife Refuge. Armed with my Sibley Guide and binoculars, I watched every day while I wrote, overlooking the beach on Alligator Point near what's now Bald Point State Park.

What a great winter that was!

Christie Keith

So happy to hear about these great experiences with birding. Terri took me out with her when I was in Washington in October, and while it was cold and I felt funny walking without dogs, we saw a bald eagle, herons, and lots of little birds she was all excited about. And many ducks. ;)

I don't think I'll be switching allegiance from dogs to birding, but I'm still fascinated by this hobby!


Susan, your place sounds lovely! Have you got pictures posted anywhere?

Susan Fox

No, not at the moment. But I've thought about starting a blog and maybe posting a few to it will get me off the dime. What would be the best way to let you, and whoever else might be interested, know when I've done so?


Oh, I think if you posted it here we'd find it!

Colorado transplant

Luckily we were able to train our cat not to go after the birds who congregate at the bird feeder under our apple tree.

He also chases away other cats who want to go after the many birds coming for the blackoil seeds.

Wish I could send you a picture of Batman guarding his tree area but I do not have your e-mail address, Gina, and I cannot paste it here!

Nadine L.

Gina and Christie, and all of you potential birders out there, you have a spectacular event right here on the California north coast in Del Norte County. The great 10th Annual Aleutian Goose Festival will be held March 28-30, 2008. Sample event list here:

You must come!

Our home is right in the Pacific Flyway, one block from the ocean with a window wall facing in the direction of the coast. If I stand on a chair I can see the ocean. (Wish we could raise the foundation just a few feet!) We listen to the (thousands of) seals on the rocks and hear the ocean waves crashing. The other night during that huge Pacific storm it sounded like it was right in our back yard! Watching the migrating birds as well as resident birds (410 birds in our county) from the comfort of our living room is truly awesome. We live in a nature movie 24/7!

America's Wild Rivers Coast:

Nadine L.

Teehee. Sorry guys - must have been distracted by a pelican. Here's the real website of Wild Rivers Coast:


The bird thing has been building for the past few years. We've managed to get our community garden in nice enough shape that we are on the Christmas Count and whatever counts Cornell tosses out there. As Coordinator, I put things in place so that the Aubudon folks can do what they want for counts, habitat building etc -- it's good for the birds, it's good for the people and it's good for the crops -- so that makes me happy! ;-)

I want Susan Fox's pond. Pictures, please!

Susan Fox

Ok, ok,I'm working on it. Who do you all think is the best place to host my new blog?

I hope I'm not violating blog etiquette here but Nadine, go to my website at and shoot me an email so we can stay in touch directly. I've seen the geese up around Lake Earl and it's an amazing sight! Saw tundra swans, too. It IS an ongoing wildlife movie up here on the north coast.

There is also a migratory bird festival, Godwit Days, every April in Arcata, which is about 90 minutes south of Nadine. People come from all over the country. They have tons of field trips including one to see northern spotted owls and also to go out at "o-dark-thirty" and watch little marbled murrelets zooming over your head on their way from the forest for their day feeding out in the ocean.

Today the yard is filled with robins, sparrows and juncos, tra la.

Nadine L.

Susan mentioned the Lake Earl Wildlife Area

"The Lake Earl Wildlife Area has been identified as one of California’s nineteen most productive wetlands. Located approximately seven miles north of Crescent City, in Del Norte County, the Lake Earl Wildlife Area lies in the Smith River plain. Though called "lakes," the Lake Earl/Tolowa complex is actually an estuarine lagoon. These sensitive habitat and recreational lands are protected through the Department of Fish and Game's Lake Earl Wildlife Area, and the California Department of Parks and Recreation's Tolowa Dunes State Park.

The 5,500-acre Lake Earl wetland complex provides habitat for at least fifteen federally and state listed species, including bald eagle, peregrine falcon, brown pelican, western snowy plover, marbled murrelet, sand dune phacelia, Oregon silverspot butterfly, seaside hoary elfin and greenish blue butterflies, tidewater goby, green sturgeon, coho salmon, steelhead and coastal cutthroat trout.

The California Species of Special Concern list includes forty bird species found at Lake Earl. In addition to the listed species, over 300 bird species have been recorded at Lake Earl, twenty-one species of fish, and at least fifty species of mammals. During seasonal migrations the wetland complex hosts as many as **100,000 birds**.”

...that I get to watch out my living room window!


Nadine L.

Susan - email sent!

Gina Spadafori

Arcata is a wonderful place! Would love to visit.

Susan Fox

Easily arranged, Gina. How about coming up for a book signing? Free tour ;-)of our shelter, which is as no-kill as an open admission county facility can be? Birdwatching? Carry this conversation on off-line?

All right, no photos and only one entry yet, but I've just set up a blog on Wordpress at I'll try to get some pond photos up in the next few days. Not wanting to get off the point of this site or thread, we do consider the goldfish pets. They just live outside in a REALLY big fish bowl (my husband wanted a swimming hole, so much more fun than a regular pool). And they have learned to dive for cover when the egret or heron show up.

Oh, yeah, I forgot, a month or so ago I looked out and there was a double-crested cormorant swimming around. Didn't think they would come inland to a pond in a residential area since we usually see them in the rivers, bay or ocean. No ducks yet, which is what I had originally imagined showing up.

What's not to like about birdwatching? It's such a great way to connect with nature. All you need is a willingness to get outside, a decent bird guide and a good pair of binoculars.

Christie Keith

I'd love to have birders from parts of the country other than the Pacific Northwest join Terri in the Birding blog at PetHobbyist. If anyone's interested, even if you're a beginner yourself, please let me know!


I've been an amateur birder for 50 years, even taking part in Audubon bird counts. It's a great outdoor activity.

I have put a feeder in the dog yard to feed the bird species normally considered nuisances- rock doves aka pigeons and crows. The reason? My dogs are amateur birders, too. Getting them outside in the winter when it's snowing can be a challenge, but not if I say "Are there birds? Oh look Crows! Go get the crows!" at which point 6 little sighthounds mob the door, 'rooing' with enthusiasm! I figure it's good exercise for everyone!

Nadine L.

Comment by Christie Keith — December 9, 2007 @ 11:38 pm

So does that mean you don't want any birders or potential from the Pacific Northwest?

Christie Keith

Nadine, as long as they are not in the immediate Hood Canal area, more Pacific Northwest birders are very welcome! Are you interested???

Nadine L.

Yes! Just a beginner, I'd like to become more involved here on the CA north coast where there is so much activity! Lake Earl Wildlife Area is just up the road and I've got that amazing view right from my house of everything that migrates.


Since I have a small feral cat colony in the back of my house, I donot put bird seed out anymore. I love to watch the mockingbirds though in summer. My husband has a small vineyard(makes wine) and each year I watch in amazement how mockingbirds successfully chase cats out of the vineyard. And each year I also fight with hubby(and win)not to put up netting (I noticed dead birds tangled up in them in the past, is there such a thing as safe netting?) since the mockingbirds love the French hybrid grapes.


My homeschooled kids & I are amateur birders & participate in the annual birdwatch. My sense is that it IS a booming hobby. It is relatively easy to start, and lots of fun (though none of us are so smitten with it that we would get up early to catch glimpses of some elusive bird LOL)

Christie Keith

Nadine, I emailed you about this. :)

Nadine L.

Christie, Great! Will be looking for it.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner