“Cache” and Carry is Coming as Florida’s Wild Birds Prepare for Fall’s Cooler Months!

Have you noticed more than usual wild bird activity at your Florida feeders lately? While Clearwater/Safety Harbor’s WBU seed and feed is a tempting delight for all of Florida’s wild bird visitors, some months of the year bring more activity than others. While spring and summer are obviously active for bird feeding, Florida’s upcoming fall season is on the list as one of the busiest bird feeding seasons as well… all thanks to seed caching.

Seed caching is the act of storing seed for leaner months. Wild birds will find seed, insects, fruit and nuts and store them usually within a hundred feet or so of the food’s original source location: your feeders. Birds will specify which food will provide them with the most nutrition, gather it… and then, like a bad A&E special… hoard it inside knotholes in trees, the crooks of branches, gutter corners, window sills and any other handy spots where they feel it will be safe and secure. While seed caching obviously helps Florida’s wild birds, it also serves our wild bird watching addiction, as well. Seed caching offers a terrific advantage of watching birds come and go on a daily basis within the same area so this is a perfect time for avid bird watching experiences!

Although Florida doesn’t face as harsh a winter as most states in the country, our backyard visitors still indulge in the activity as plants begin dropping seed in their own preparation for winter, and insects become more scarce.

With an average wintertime temperature hovering at a stable 69 in January, the Clearwater area’s coolest month… and lows falling into the 50’s or even lower (there was a record low of 19°F  in 1981), Florida does have cause to be watchful of its wild bird community. Because of this, it’s best to be prepared in order to keep our feathered friends happy and healthy and visiting our Florida backyard habitats all year long.

Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop

Below is a handy list of  just some of Florida’s most active backyard guests and their preferred seed for caching:

Tufted Titmice: Being slightly piggish about the whole thing, Titmice will select the biggest seeds in the feeders. Because of this preference, they would like peanuts, sunflower and safflower, please! Although they are usually somewhat bullish at the feeders while defending their food sources, they tend to band together during winter months as flocks (a group of Titmice is called a “Banditry”) can more easily search for food. WBU in Clearwater/Safety Harbor suggests its Deluxe Fare Seed Cylinder full of nuts, sunflower and safflower seeds to keep the Titmice happy and hoarding!

Blue Jays: Blue Jays have a small “pocket”  inside their mouths, beneath their lower beak and jawline. This area, called a “Gular Pouch”, is used for their caching activity. Much like Florida’s pelicans, but unlike many other wild bird backyard visitors who do not have such a storage area, Blue Jays are capable of storing several seeds, nuts, grains and insects in one gathering at a time. While most of Florida’s wild birds must trudge back and forth; one seed at a time in order to cache, Blue Jays can pack it in and haul quite the hoarding load with only a few trips to be made in between.  That makes Vinny jealous! Wild Birds Unlimited in Clearwater/Safety Harbor suggests its Cranberry Fare seed cylinder featuring a mix of peanuts, pecans, cranberries and black oil sunflower to satisfy your visiting Jays.

Chickadees: Chickadees are entertaining and flighty little things… no pun intended. They come and go and come and go like bees dancing around their honey. Their preferred caching food includes seeds, nuts and insects… and while they can carry a large order of food items, each piece is hidden in a separate location in an effort to confuse their rivals… like Scooter. It would be fun to jot down the many different areas that your visiting chickadees hide their food items. These spots could include, knotholes, under bark, insect holes, twiggy branches, gutter joints, under roof shingles and inside yard art or statuary. See? They’re all over the place… entertaining and flighty! Chickadees would love some of WBU Clearwater/Safety Harbor’s Supreme Blend Bird Seed. With its mix of  black oil sunflower, sunflower chips, safflower and striped sunflower, the energetic Chickadees will be delightfully busy all day! Great opportunity to sit back and watch their activities!

These are only a few of Florida’s wild bird visitors who cache seed for the leaner, somewhat cooler, months. But all birds who indulge in this hoarding activity have one thing in common; the ingenious memory to be able to find each hidden seed again! It’s an admirable quality considering many of us can drop a quarter in an entirely empty space and never find it again. Imagine placing that quarter in a forest… surrounded by identical growth and spaces, leaving it for several weeks… then retrieving it again in a matter of minutes! This is why Florida’s -and all wild birds- are simply… extraordinary!

Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop

 

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Hammock Bird Banding

A dynamic update on the Migratory Bird Banding Project in Hammock Park, Dunedin, Florida.

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