Bird Feeding with George Petrides
Tips on attracting and feeding backyard birds.
Sharing ideas and topics related to feeding and attracting wild birds in your backyard.
Males are typically the most vocal. They sing to establish and defend their territory and to attract a mate.
Females of some species such as the Northern Cardinal will also sing.
Female cardinal. Photograph © Greg Lavaty
Northern Cardinal females will sing from the nest, despite the risk of giving away the nest location. One theory is the song may give the male information about when to bring food.
Mated cardinals share song phrases, but the female may actually outdo the male in some ways, singing a longer and more complex song than the male.
Feeding birds in the spring can be one of the most productive times. Many colorful species, including orioles, tanagers, and buntings will begin to move north from their winter homes. As they move north across the country many of these birds will stop at feeders along the way,
One such bird is the Rose-breasted Grosbeak. Each spring we receive numerous photographs of the male Rose-breasted Grosbeak that have stopped at a feeder as they pass through on their journey north.
You can improve your chances of attracting birds as they move north by offering water - especially with a small waterfall rock which can add sound to help attract the birds. Also expand food offerings - try suet, grape jelly and softened raisins along with sunflower.
Nest boxes often deserve a little spring cleaning also. If you have nest boxes for bluebirds or other species be sure to check inside before nesting occurs. Insects and mice may have utilized the nest box for protection in the fall and winter. Be careful when opening the nest box for the first time, as you never know what could be inside.
Cedar Waxwings are in the southern part of the United States during the winter. These beautiful and distinctive birds are described in the Bent Life History series as follows:
Cedar waxwings impress us as being unlike most of the birds we know. We see them commonly in flocks or small companies through the greater part of the year, but we never know just when they will appear, or how numerously, for the movements of these flocks do not conform to the regular northern and southern swings of migration that the majority of North American birds make to and from their breeding grounds. Moreover, unlike most birds, there is no close relationship between the time of their arrival on their nesting grounds and the commencement of breeding.
When we become well acquainted with the waxwing we look upon him as the perfect gentleman of the bird world. There is in him a refinement of deportment and dress; his voice is gentle and subdued; he is quiet and dignified in manner, sociable, never quarrelsome, and into one of his habits, that of sharing food with his companions, we may read, without too much stress of imagination, the quality of politeness, almost unselfishness, very rare, almost unheard of, in the animal kingdom. His plumage is delicate in coloring: soft, quiet browns, grays, and pale yellow: set off, like a carnation in our buttonhole, by a touch of red on the wing.
1. Provide water for your birds in a bird bath, small pond or other water feature. Remember that moving water is a magnet for birds. Add a water heater in the winter to provide open water. Pumps or the birdbath may need to be drained if a heater is not used.
2. Although it may be shocking to see a hawk taking a bird in your backyard, there is no need for alarm. High mortality rates are normal for songbirds and balance their high reproductive rates.
3. Select a variety of trees and shrubs for your yard to provide food, shelter and nesting sites for birds year-round.
4. Remember that birds prefer feeders that give them easy access to food. Some feeders designed to keep squirrels and larger birds away often receive fewer visits from small birds as well. Always choose a bird feeder that has high bird appeal and, if necessary, use baffles or other methods to keep squirrels away. Then make sure all feeding ports and feeding areas are kept clear of debris so your birds have easy access to food.