365 Nature – Day 254

In 2016 I’m doing a 365 Nature project. Learn more about the project and see all the 365 Nature posts.


With autumn in the air, although today it seems we’re having a relapse to summer, I wanted to get the bird feeders hung back up. I take them down in the spring because the parks and my own garden start to provide an abundance of food and what the birds really need in spring are insects to feed their chicks. Earlier this week I cleaned them all out with a bleach water solution and let them air dry. I still have some black sunflower seeds left from last year, but this summer we have had more rats around our yard than I’ve ever seen before. I’ve watched them climb up the neighbor’s sunflowers, corn plants and apple tree, in the middle of the day. The fat, slow mammals waddle across our backyard while we’re out playing. To anyone who says cats manage rats, I beg them to explain our rats. Cats are in the neighborhood and yet slow, fat rats running amok.

This year I was determined to do as little as possible to assist the rats and decided to buy seed mixes without the sunflower seeds still in the shells. I visited the Seattle Audubon Society store this morning and picked up a large bag of shelled sunflower seeds, along with a patio mix. Since I still have some sunflowers in the shells, I put them in the feeder in tree, right in the middle of the lawn. So if there’s any mess, the rats will be very exposed. In the other feeders, closer to the house and over vegetation, I put the new seed mixes. I also put out some peanuts, hoping the Steller’s Jays will find them again before the crows get wise and take them all.

I have not yet put the hummingbird feeders up. Although the Anna’s Hummingbirds are a constant presence in our yard, there are still many flowers blooming that they visit such as the Fireweed. But I imagine I’ll put them back up in the next couple of weeks, if not sooner. If nothing else, we really enjoy watching them visit the feeder on our dining room window.

Although many of our feeder-visiting birds aren’t migratory, the Black-capped Chickadees are always around, it still feels like in the autumn, the birds have come home. Soon the Dark-eyed Juncos will be back and all of the sparrows that frequent our yard. Last winter I spent a lot of time photographing the birds coming to the feeders and I hope this year to do so again.

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Kelly Brenner

Kelly Brenner is a naturalist, writer and photographer based in Seattle. She is the author of a book about urban nature, coming Spring 2020 from Mountaineers Books. She writes freelance articles about natural history and has bylines in Crosscut, ParentMap, National Wildlife Magazine and others. On the side she writes fiction.

Kelly holds a bachelors degree in landscape architecture from the University of Oregon and a certificate in non-fiction writing from the University of Washington.

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