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.
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!”
Want more birds? Try fruit and nuts. Featured
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.
One reason we feed wild birds around our homes is that we presume they appreciate a little help from their human friends. Another reason is that we simply enjoy having them around us. We like watching their antics, seeing their colors, and listening to them.
Each bird species is capable of making a variety of sounds that it uses to communicate with other birds. These sounds are songs, which usually are long and complex, and calls, which usually are short and simple. By encouraging birds to visit our yards, we are more likely to hear most of their vocalizations.
Songbirds account for nearly 60% of the world’s 9,500+ species and almost 40% of the more than 900 species found in North America. For the most part, only the males “sing” – a consistently repeated pattern of tones. The females of a few species, including Northern Cardinals, Baltimore Orioles and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, also occasionally break into song.
Birds generally sing more in the early morning and late afternoon. While singing behavior varies among species, most vocalizations take place during the breeding season. Lags occur during the short mating season and when the young are being cared for. Singing usually pauses when the nesting season is
The songs of birds are learned, not inherited. If a White-crowned Sparrow grew up with only Song Sparrows around, it would learn Song Sparrow songs. Fledgling birds first develop a “sub-song” that matures into an adult primary song in about a year. Although Chipping Sparrows have only one basic song, Song Sparrows may have 10, some wrens may have more than 100, and – as many of you well know – Mockingbirds seem to have a repertoire of a couple hundred songs that are voiced endlessly!
In Part 2: We learn more about how, where and why birds sing.
Feeding our friends on a deck, balcony or patio presents a few challenges, but the rewards are well worth the effort. In fact, there are many products to help you enjoy your birds in small spaces.
One of the easiest and most satisfying ways to get started is with a hummingbird feeder. A popular way to hang a hummingbird feeder is from a simple hook from the eave in front of a window.
Hummingbirds are bold and will readily come right up to your house to investigate a (red-colored) feeder.
Before we discuss seed feeders, let’s not forget about water which is crucial for birds, and an adequate supply will attract great variety of birds for your enjoyment. There are birdbaths available that easily attach to deck railings. An alternative is to put out hanging bath. Remember, a popular birdbath requires daily filling so be mindful of this requirement when choosing a spot for your birdbath. There are also baths available with plastic inserts that can be easily removed for cleaning and filling.
An important challenge of bird feeding on decks, balconies and other small areas is keeping the area clean. The easiest way is use “no-mess” seed blends which contain no hulls (what the birds leave behind). Another solution is to use a deck hanger to suspend your feeder over the side of the deck. Seed trays on tube feeders also help keep debris off a deck or balcony.
Peanut feeders can be a great addition to the enjoyment of your patio or balcony. Wrens, chickadees, titmice, nuthatches and a variety of woodpeckers love nuts! Another option is to use a mealworm feeder – virtually all birds love’em!
So check out your possibilities and select just the right products for all of your outdoor areas.
Birdbaths are great for attracting birds that do not visit bird feeders. To attract and enjoy birds all year long, consider buying a heated birdbath. A popular type has the heating element completely enclosed in the birdbath itself. There are also separate birdbath heaters to place in your existing birdbath. Birds want to bathe in the winter as much as in warmer months so your heated bath can be tremendously attractive to your birds. When cleaned, their feathers fluff more efficiently, creating important insulating layers of air between feathers and skin. Now’s the time to create a splash in your backyard!