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Set the table for spring

painted buntingI feed mostly black sunflower seeds in my yard feeders and throw out some chicken scratch for the ground-feeding birds.  But in springtime we have to change the menu a bit to attract spring migrants.  My hummingbird feeder is hung off the patio near some Red Columbine that is just beginning to bloom and adjacent to three big Coral Honeysuckle bushes that are a favorite of hummingbirds. I haven’t spied a hummer yet, but Kurt Meisenzahl of Lawton reports a Black-chinned Hummingbird at a feeder this week, so there are a few around.  The earlier you hang your feeder, the more likely you are to attract a mating pair to your property.

I keep the scratch and black sunflower around in spring, but hang a feeder with white millet to attract indigoIndigo and Painted Buntings.  It seems to be their favorite food.  I used to feed a finch mix, but noticed that these two species always plucked out the white millet, so I try to provide what they want.  I don’t get many of these birds, seem to just get a few northward bound migrants in April and May.   I’ve seen a breeding pair the past couple of year on the upper end of one of our ponds, though.

I don’t have many orioles around the house, either, but have been able to attract a few with a bright orange feeder stoked with orange slices and grape jelly.  A couple of springs ago I had a couple of male Baltimore’s that would come up on the patio and hang out.  I haven’t hung the oriole feeder yet, but will get it out soon.  I’m sure other folks have favorite foods for different birds, but these have worked for me.  It’s time to set the table to attract our newly arriving spring migrants.
The Barn Swallows and Killdeer have returned   in the past few days and most of our wintering ducks are gone.  Just a couple of scaup remaining on the ponds as spring dawns on the reddirt hill.
  Photos by L. Dillon.  Click to enlarge.

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