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.
Many bird species will cache food in the fall for retrieval in the winter, including Blue Jays, Black-capped Chickadees, nuthatches, and Tufted Titmice. Most try to hide their food cache from other birds. A champion at storing the food, right in the open, is the Acorn Woodpecker. They will often drill hundreds of holes in a selected tree, power pole are even in wooden shingles. They carefully place acorns in the holes for consumption when food is less plentiful. These interesting birds will also "hawk" for insects (capture insects in flight). They will visit feeders for peanuts and suet.
Acorn Woodpecker © Greg Lavaty
One exciting way to enjoy the upcoming fall migration is by supercharging your yard and feeding station for hummingbirds. The hummingbird nesting season is pretty much complete, and you may already have noticed increased activity in your yard. As this pre-migration period kicks-in, hummer numbers at your feeders will increase as the birds prepare for their journey south. Migrating is an energy-intensive activity and hummingbirds must bolster fat reserves to fuel their migration flights. Adding an additional feeder or two and providing natural food sources will benefit the birds and provide some fun high-speed entertainment when hummingbirds flock to your yard.
There are several hummingbird festivals around the country, here are a couple of the more popular events.
Aug. 23 - Aug. 26
Davis Mountains Hummingbird Celebration
Fort Davis, Texas
Sept. 13 - Sept. 16
30th Rockport-Fulton HummerBird Celebration
Many garage doors have a cord with a red handle for lowering the door. When the door is up, the red handle will sometimes draw a hummingbird into the garage, where it can have a difficult time escaping. Paint the handle black or cover it in black tape to prevent this problem.
If a hummingbird does get trapped in your garage, try closing the door and turning off the light. Hummingbirds do not like to fly in the dark and can sometimes easily be picked up and taken outside. Hold the hummer gently, open your hand slowly and give the hummer a chance to orient itself before it again takes to the air.
A singing bird creates musical sounds using its syrinx. This organ is a kind of double voice box at the bottom of the bird’s windpipe. Where the windpipe branches into the bird’s lungs, two sets of membranes and muscles vibrate at high frequencies as air is exhaled. In fact, while singing, a bird can alternate exhaling between its two lungs and thereby sing in harmony with itself.
Usually a male that is defending a territory or attracting a mate will sing from one of the highest or most conspicuous perches available. This favorite spot may be used repeatedly. On the other hand, some birds such as larks, Bobolinks, and buntings – often sing while flying. And while birds do not usually sing around their nests, a few may sing a quiet “whisper song” that can be heard for only a few yards.
In the final analysis, different birds sing different songs, but they usually sing for the same reasons.
Female Rose-breasted Grosbeak
And who knows, some of those reasons may be that they are well-fed, stress free, and what we would anthropomorphically describe as “”happy!”
Offering fruit and nuts is a good way to attract species that do not normally visit seed feeders.
Fruit eaters include :
and many more
Raisins and currents: Soak overnight and offer on a platform feeder or shallow dish.
Strawberries, cherries, blueberries and grapes: Cut in half and offer on a platform feeder or shallow dish.
Apples: Offer sliced or chopped apples on a platform feeder or shallow dish.
Orange and grapefruit: Slice in half and nail to the side of a tree or offer on a platform.
Watermelon: There is usually a little meat on a watermelon rind or un-eaten portion. Placed in a good location it attacks a few bugs, also butterflies, mockingbirds and cardinals. Last year a Red-bellied Woodpecker that seemed to have a taste for watermelon would visit fairly often.
Grape jelly: Popular with orioles.
Peanuts are popular with woodpeckers and nuthatches. Shelled raw peanuts can be offered in feeders designed for feeding peanuts. Offer peanuts in the shell on a platform feeder or on the ground.
Peanut butter also works for the above species plus native sparrows and Pine Siskins. Offer straight or mix the peanut butter with 3-4 parts corn mill. Spread the mixture on a tree trunk, place in spaces in a pine cone, or fill holes drilled in a board or dead limb.