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.
1. Offer a food combination appropriate for the birds you want to attract.
2. Place feeders where you can easily watch them as part of your daily routine.
3. Avoid seed mixes with inexpensive filler seeds that birds don’t eat.
4. Avoid seed mixes with higher-cost ingredients that don’t add value. For example, safflower is useful for discouraging squirrels (and Grackles) which dislike t. But when you mix it with seeds squirrels do like, that value is lost, and the safflower only increases the cost of the mix. Offer safflower straight, not mixed with other seeds for best results.
5. Offer foods in ways that reflect the preferences of birds you want to attract. For example, since most of the birds that eat millet are ground feeders, present your millet either on a platform feeder or directly on the ground (a cup full or so at a time).
Adding a birdbath and dripper will help attract a variety of species, including those that do not normally visit feeders.
Next time: 5 more tips for bird feeding success!
Are Mute Swans really mute?
No, they aren’t really mute, but their voices are weak and seldom used except for grunts, menacing hisses, and snorts. During breeding season, they may utter puppy-like barks.
Which group of birds can turn their heads to the greatest extreme?
You guessed correctly, the owls! An owl can turn its head about 280 degrees and then quickly swivel it around in the opposite direction. (Barred Owl photo by Mike Horn)
Which American woodpecker migrates the farthest?
The Yellow-belied Sapsucker migrates to the West Indies and south to central Panama.
The first thing to do is clean out old nesting materials. On most nest boxes, you can access your nest box by swinging open a front or side panel. If that isn’t possible, your house may have a bottom panel that can be unscrewed.
When all else fails, take a bent coat-hanger, hook the old nesting material and drag it out through the entry hole. Also, make sure all drainage holes are unplugged (another good use for your trusty coat-hanger). Then check for any squirrel or other damage around the entry hole. If the hole has been enlarged, you might check with your local wild bird specialty store for special metal plates that can be put around the hole to prevent further damage.
You can then hose out the box and let dry. Rehang your nest box so your birds have all winter to get comfortable with it or even use it as a roosting box since a number of species are known to huddle together in nest boxes for warmth.
We’ve all suspected that birds seem to prefer certain types of seeds over others. Chickadees, for example, love black-oil sunflower seed but don’t care much for millet. Tests have shown that thy do choose a particular sunflower seed over others. When a chickadee picks up a seed it judges the weight and size of that articular seed. They tend to select small, heavy, plump seeds and to reject (toss away) lighter, slender seeds. Apparently, they select those seeds that yield the greatest food value in return for the energy expended in opening the seed. Amazing!
P.S. We once counted the actual number of black-oil sunflower seeds in a 50-lb bag. How many seeds do you think there were? Hint: round to nearest 5000 seeds. Watch this space for the answer next week!
Chickadee feeder face. © Wayne Hoch Warren
If you’re reading this, it’s likely you’ve been bitten hard by our hobby! You may well have a hopper feeder, a Nyjer feeder, a suet feeder, a nectar feeder and a peanut feeder for good measure! Your birds are excited too but have you overdone it?
No need to worry, my friends! Your feeders have different purposes, and each fills a different ecological niches, so to speak. When it comes to enjoying our favorite pastime to the max, you’re right on track with the rest of us. Enjoy!