Thoughts on Feeding Birds

Sitting at the breakfast table, watching the birds visit our bird feeder every morning, makes me think that I must be doing something right. I had to build a crude ‘fence’ around our tube feeder to keep the squirrels out, which also keeps out some of the larger birds that I feel should be able to fend for themselves during our mild winters.

There are many species of birds that visit feeders around the country. Some of the more common species include the American Goldfinch, Black-capped Chickadee, Blue Jay, Brown Creeper, Brown-headed Cowbird, Carolina Wren, Common Redpol, Dark-eyed Junco, Downy Woodpecker, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Gray Jay, House Finch, Hummingbird, Morning Dove, Northern Cardinal, Northern Flicker, Pine Siskin, Purple Finch, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Snow Bunting, Song Sparrow, Tufted Titmouse, White-breasted Nuthatch and last, but not least, the White-throated Sparrow. Depending on what part of the country you are reading this from, you may see many of these visiting your feeder.

What should go into your feeder. I guess it all depends on what size and type of bird you want to attract as well as the size of seed or feed you want to make available. Some of the common seeds/feeds provided may include combinations of Black Oil Sunflowers, Striped Sunflowers, Sunflower Hearts, Millet, Milo, Cracked Corn, Nijer (Thistle) Seed, Safflower Seed, Peanut Pieces as well as Nectar, Fruit, and Suet. The bag of seed I’m currently using includes Black Oil Sunflower, White Proso Millet, Chipped Sunflower Seeds, Safflower Seed and Striped Sunflower Seed. Why did I choose this seed? Simple. It was on sale. I feel that if birds want to eat at my table (feeder), they’ll have to eat what I put on the table just like friends and family that visit us. Remember to keep the feeder full and provide fresh water for drinking and bathing if there is no natural source nearby. Also, once you start to feed during the winter months, don’t stop. The birds become dependent on your providing feed for them.

What type of feeder do you use. Again, it depends on species of bird and type of feed provided. Not counting nectar, fruit and suet there are 3 basic types of feeders.

Tray feeders are generally flat-bottomed feeders with drainage holes to get rid of rain/snow melt. They attract a variety of seed-eaters, including ground feeders.

Tube feeders are usually cylinderic in shape, covered with a plastic or mesh-coated wire. These are excellent for the smaller birds, like finches, chickadees, and nuthatches.

Hopper feeders have an enclosed seed reservoir with sloped slides that open into an open tray located below. Seed stays dry because of the cover on the hopper (reservoir) and attracts the woodpeckers, grosbeak, blue jays and other larger birds.

If squirrels and chipmunks are a problem, consider a critter feeder if you don’t have a ‘squirrel proof ‘ feeder or don’t want to build a fence to keep the little pests out.

Feed the birds, sit back with a good cup of coffee/tea or a glass of wine and enjoy life!

Keep your fork

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