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.
The small, heavily streaked Pine Siskin is often irruptive in winter, and can be seen over large parts of the U.S. where it comes to bird feeders, especially for thistle seed. Some of these traveling Pine Siskins can remain to breed, even in areas far from the normal breeding range of the species.
Photograph © Glenn Bartley.
Pine Siskins usually breed in small colonies, although each pair still defends a small area around their nest. Most of their breeding range is outside that of the Brown-headed Cowbird, so there is little opportunity for nest parasitism, although where the two species do overlap, significant parasitism has been observed. Siskins usually abandon cowbird chicks before they fledge.
You’ll need a source of outdoor electricity to run your birdbath heater or heated bath. If your home does not have an outdoor outlet, you can run an extension cord outside (get one rated for your heater), perhaps from your garage or basement. Alternatively, you may be able to replace an outdoor light bulb outlet with one that has a plug outlet in the base. Extension cords come in lengths from 10 feet to 50 feet, usually in nice bright colors to keep you from tripping over them. Remember that for outdoor electricity, you must use a ground-fault circuit interrupter. This device prevents shorting out or similar problems which may be associated with outdoor electricity. Outdoor outlets are likely already be grounded and protected by circuit breakers in your home
We are excited to announce that the new Birdzilla.com Photographic Guide to the Birds of North America is now available. Designed for beginner to intermediate level birders it covers 650 species. The guide includes range maps and 2,000 color photographs. Birds are organized by habitat. The guide also includes information on attracting and feeding birds.
The guide is available on Amazon for $24.95.
Responsible Cat Ownership Featured
A beautiful snow-white cat just wandered through my yard, right under a bird feeder. It reminded me of the American Bird Conservancy's Cats Indoors campaign.
The U.S. pet cat population tripled from 1970 to 2010. Outdoor and stray cats kill millions of birds and other small creatures each year.
Cats are thought to be the largest direct source of mortality to birds in the U.S. and Canada. They annually kill an estimated 2.4 billion birds in the U.S. alone.
Outdoor cats are also a vector for the transmission of parasites and diseases. Cats are the top carrier of rabies among domestic animals in the U.S. I do not think that is a huge problem but these days we can not be too careful.
You can find more details on the survey from the American Bird Conservancy web site.
The calendar has turned to a new decade, so how about a Decade level resolution? One great goal could be to create a plan for safe, organic gardening to help the birds and other wildlife. Native plants generally require less water and are more resistant to disease and insects than many of the introduced or highly cultivated varieties. Native plans also tend to attract more birds and a greater diversity of species.
An organically managed yard can be beautiful without the use of harsh chemicals and fertilizers.
Here are some resources to help you get started.
Gardening information regional plant information on the Birdzilla.com web site.
Howard Garrett, the Dirt Doctor, has lots of information on his web site and his syndicated radio show is heard on over 200 radio stations.
The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center maintains a nation-wide list of nurseries that specialize in native plants.
I have had excellent success with seeds from Wildseed Farms and I am the worst gardener ever. My way of thinking is that the seeds do not get any special attention in the wild, so why should I do anything special. I sparkle them onto the flower bed and rake lightly. They do great and some re-seed themselves.
As bird feeding starts to reach its peak its time to consider some steps to ensure safe feeding..
- Keep feeders clean and replace seeds anytime it becomes caked or mold/mildew is spotted. Many tube feeder designs now have removable tops and bottom for easy cleaning.
- Rake seed hulls under feeders or use a screen under the feeder to capture the hulls and dropped seeds. Seeds can also be purchased without the hulls, which greatly reduces this problem.
- Window strikes kill millions of birds each year. Locate feeders over 20 ft. or less then 3 ft. from windows. There are also several commercial products - such as decals of spider webs - that make the windows visible to the birds. (Some organizations say 10 feet is far enough away, while others say 30 feet is required.)