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The Backyard Hunter

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This is one of at least three hawks who hunt in our yard. He came in low and fast today trying to grab a squirrel. The squirrel did manage to evade.

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And yes, he is quite large. He wasn’t interested in the small birds. He was after squirrel. When he got tired of me trying to take his picture through the kitchen doors, he flew off to his favorite hunting spot on the edge of the meadow.

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It didn’t take the squirrels long to return to their grazing through the suet and the corn.

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Creating the habitat has presented challenges. Keeping squirrels out of the good stuff. The green feeder where the hawk was standing is where I put the good seed. It is fully squirrel proof. As for the suet, sometimes I put out basic suet and let the squirrels get into it, but I now buy the hot pepper suet. They don’t stop, but it slows them down.

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I do put out seed on the ground, out under the azalea bushes, in a somewhat protected area. What is amazing is how quickly the “word” spreads, once I slam the top of the green feeder, birds come swooping in to see what is out there. This is my ground mix.

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Fruit and nut mix. Unsalted peanuts in the shell. Some cracked corn. A few safflower hearts. I put this out every few days. The birds mostly come to the feeders but the jays and the resident crows forage around in the bushes for this mix.

The most important thing out there, though, is the heated water in the birdbath. I have a bird spa heater in it. It has to be cleaned out about once a week. You can see how it gets messed up with all the use. Today again the birds are bathing in it. This is something that attracts a very large amount of birds in the winter.

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Now I have juncos, downy woodpeckers, red bellied woodpeckers, goldfinches, house finches, titmice, chickadees, wrens, red and white breasted nuthatches, cardinals, blue jays and crows daily. We also get two or three different sparrows occasionally. I have a rare visit from a hairy woodpecker, and the robins come in for water too. We have not seen the cedar waxwings yet this year, and the bluebirds showed up this week for the first time.

When I do the backyard bird count in February, I get at least eighteen different species, when you count the geese and the vultures and the hawks, all who fly over during the day.

To me, having this entertainment outside my kitchen windows makes doing dishes a treat and not a chore. You never know what will be seen next.

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I hope the cedar waxwings return as they are really a cute bird to watch.

About AnnieRie

Retired, I am following my dream of living in quiet west Howard County, a rural oasis, not far from the urban chaos, but just far enough. I love to cook, bake, garden, and travel. I volunteer at Howard County Conservancy. I lead nature hikes, manage programs and show children all the wonders of nature, and the agricultural connection to their food.

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