Sunday, April 03, 2011

Noisy on Campus!

Walking around the CyFair campus last week, I was struck by just how noisy it was. Of course, some of then noise was caused by the ongoing construction work on our new buildings. But most of the noise was being produced by birds.

Most of the background noise was a mixture of songs and calls from Red-winged Blackbirds and Eastern Meadowlarks perched on posts and trees near the drainage ditch to the north of the campus. It was added to by the chattering of Purple Martins as they swooped and soared overhead, and by the whistling of small flocks of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks as they flew across the sky.

Some of the foreground noise was what I've come to regard as routine: The "Pretty. Pretty. Pretty." call of Northern Cardinals and the "Chip" of Yellow-rumped Warblers.

Last week, though, the dominant noise was the "It's so lovely to see you" call of White-eyed Vireos. A few Vireos turned up the week before but last week's cold front brought in many, many more. On Friday there were at least six around the outdoor classroom area on the nature trail and they were producing an awesome volume (and variety) of noise. 


Our resident Northern Mockingbirds were so impressed that, for once, they themselves were totally silent.

The Vireos are not just at the college, of course, but all over our area. For example, I saw or heard a dozen or more last Sunday at Spring Cypress Park in Tomball.

Paul asked about squirrel-proof feeders that Cardinals can use. We have (only!) two types that have worked. One is a square-section tube feeder where the ports close if a heavy bird or e.g., a squirrel gets on it. This certainly baffles our squirrels. However, it has taken our Cardinals a long while to master and they still never look comfortable feeding from it.

The second successful feeder is a round cage, which the Cardinals really love. Unfortunately, squirrels learned how to squeeze in through the entry holes. I finally managed to make it squirrel-proof by adding a plastic dome above the feeder itself.

At first, I fixed the dome very rigidly to the top of the feeder. Bad idea! The squirrels learned to creep across the dome and climb down to the feeder. So now the dome is left hanging loosely above the feeder: If a squirrel goes on it, the dome tips to one side and the squirrel is dumped onto the ground.


Paul said...

Jeff, I'm glad to hear you've had your go-rounds with the squirrels. The final solution is an air powered squirrel repellant, which is politically dicey in these areas. I like that round feeder with the dome. I've seen that feeder roundabout here somewhere, and figured, well the squirrels will get through those big holes in nothing flat. Where did you get that big dome?
I have bird feeders suspended from my basketball hoop and hardware. I've got two of them up now, but the squirrels can climb the 4" vertical pipe riser, and are messing with my totally enclosed cage with a plate of birdseed within. Frustrations. The other feeder is full of little seed which the squirrels don't prefer. Plus it's hard to jump on without losing their grip.

Jeff said...

Squirrels can get into the round cage. They can't always get out, though. I had to pull one out by hand a while back. That's why I put the dome on it. Got the dome in the birdfeeder section of Lowes or Home Depot.