a peek inside the fishbowl

09 Oct, 2020

Entertaining ourselves at home… with our feathered friends

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Misc. life|Oh! Things!|Ottawa

In my previous post I wrote about the second wave and what we’re doing to get ready for it. This past summer I’m sure you heard about the global shortages of inflatable pools, kayaks, and bicycles. I think we’re now looking at shortages of skis, snowshoes, and wool socks as people get ready for a long winter ahead.

How are we going to weather the second wave? I guess the trick is to think about what we enjoy doing, or might enjoy doing, and go with that.

We’ve always been bird nerds here at Casa Fishbowl, which is why upgrading our bird feeder(s) and bags of seed was a good idea for us.

I received a new window feeder for my birthday this summer. It’s attached to our family room window and it’s amazing to see how many birds come to that thing. It’s a parade of cardinals, chickadees, a few different kinds of finches, nuthatches and woodpeckers. We have recently been discovered by this rather bold blue jay.

We also have a bird feeding station with three different feeders hanging from it. (YES. We are clearly over the top.) We invested in the patented Advanced Pole System (APS): “a revolutionary concept and the foundation for successfully attracting birds to your backyard” and I love it. We bought it at a local biz, Wild Birds Unlimited. It’s very sturdy, and totally expandable/customizable. We are using our own feeders and bought a few different types of seed designed to attract different kinds of birds.

We also bought a baffle (so the squirrels won’t climb the pole and eat all the seed) and a plug-in water warmer (!) for our ground-level bird bath, which we’ll install when it gets a little frostier outside. This might sound extreme in terms of creating a better backyard habitat for our feathered friends, but there’s a pandemic going on folks, and I am looking for alternate forms of entertainment. And I have to say that when I’m working in view of the feeders, it’s nice to take a moment to focus on something that is not a computer screen. It’s restful, both for the eyes and the soul.

Of course, if you want to build a better habitat for birds you don’t have to throw money at it if you don’t want to. There are a lot of good ideas out there if you’d like to do it on the cheap, eg. smearing stale bagels or pine cones with crunchy peanut butter and hanging them from a tree, making feeders out of milk cartons etc.  I like the idea of making suet & seed wreaths and will probably do that again this year.(In fact, this is something I wrote about for Canadian Family Magazine awhile back.)

Hello weekend family project!

I should point out that it took a few weeks for the birds to get used to our new set of feeders, so if you want to be entertained this fall and winter, you better get started!

Birding is a really lovely thing to do as a family. Even our grown-up kids enjoy seeing who shows up at the feeder. You would be forgiven it you thought that backyard birding was boring, but it’s anything but. It’s not just nice birds coming to have a nice quiet snack before flitting off to other places. There is often comedy or drama involved! We’ve seen a gang of birds viciously beat up a smaller one (this was later ruled to be a homicide.) We see finches bully chickadees into giving up their spot at the feeder. Sometimes we spy a tender moment between Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal. We’ve watched dishevelled toddlers pester mom and dad for feedings and then feed themselves, acrobatic swoops, noisy arguments, and blissful wing stretching, preening, and sun bathing.

It is lovely, to be sure. I am almost looking forward to staying home. ;)


6 Responses to "Entertaining ourselves at home… with our feathered friends"

1 | Feathers

October 10th, 2020 at 12:20 pm


Smart to invest in good quality feeders. I have paid top dollar for mine but cheaped out on a low-cost $25 squirrel-proof beauty that does not work. Both sunflower and mixed seed are jammed at the base opening and can’t dispense. Frustrating. Don’t buy this garbage (Lowes).

2 | andrea tomkins

October 15th, 2020 at 1:39 pm


Good points!

3 | Birdie

October 10th, 2020 at 4:42 pm


Wondering if you have the necessary bird strike deterrent on your windows? Especially the one with the feeder as pictured? Without the deterrents I imagine some feathered friends will no doubt crash into the glass. There are lots of wonderful, simple DIYs:


Happy birding!

4 | andrea tomkins

October 15th, 2020 at 1:39 pm


We don’t, actually! You might be surprised to hear this but the birds are pretty good at landing on the thing without hitting the window. Overall we have very few birds hitting windows (as far as we know)!

6 | a peek inside the fishbowl » Blog Archive Surface tension - a peek inside the fishbowl

January 16th, 2022 at 10:07 am


[…] book, and watched avian-related antics in the backyard. I will say once again for the record that expanding our bird feeder set up was one of the best pandemic purchases we made. (Thank you M, for your kind email about that!) We […]

comment form:


Me and my pet projects

Ottawa Bucket list

Subscribe via email

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

The Obligatory Blurb

My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (23) and Sarah (21). During the day I work as a writer at The Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

If you'd like to contact me, please use this form. If you're so inclined, you can read more about me here. Thank you for visiting!


Connect with me at these places too!

All hail the mighty Twitter