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.
Steps to make your yard bird friendly:
- Offer different types of food. Sunflower and suet are good choices.
- Provide a water source. Free water can be difficult to find when temperatures fall below for several days. Birdbath heaters are readily available.
- Provide shelter options. This can include a roost box, shrubs, tangled vines or even a simple brush pile.
- Refrain from using pesticides on your lawn and in your garden. Insects make up an important part of bird's diets and the chemicals in pesticides could also make birds sick.
A simple brush pile provides birds shelter from the elements.
Cowbirds will sometimes dominate bird feeders and have been proven to have contributed to population decreases in birds like the Kirtland's and Golden-cheeked Warbler. Trapping programs have been used to reduce cowbird populations in some areas. If cowbirds are dominating your feeder try different food choices, such as safflower or suet.
Males and females are different in appearance. Males are black with a brown head, naturally. The females are a dull gray-brown in in color.
The Brown-headed Cowbird is a parasitic nester, in that it lays its eggs in the nest of other species. One theory is that the cowbirds followed buffalo herds as the buffalo roamed, feeding on the insects they buffalo scared up. Since the buffalo roamed widely, the cowbirds were forced to either stop following the buffalos or lay their eggs in the nest of other species, to raise their young. Some song birds seem to happily raise the cowbirds, while others create a new nest when a cowbird egg is discovered,. These days the lawn mower has replaced the buffalo and the cowbirds have become common in suburban areas.
During cold winter months three similar finches, sometimes referred to as the "red finches" move into different areas. Their ranges can vary year-to-year.
Can you tell which-is-which - Cassin's, House or Purple Finch?
The three species can be hard to identify. If you are seeing a House Finch or Purple Finch that looks just a little different you may have a new species citing your feeder. Visit the Red Finches Identification page to learn about separating these 3 similar species.
Blue Jays are not everyone's favorite bird. Their aggressive behavior can sometimes drive smaller birds away from feeders. They are, however, very interesting birds and and have their fans. Here's how they are described in the Bent Life History Series.
© Stephen Muskie
"The blue jay is a strong, healthy-looking bird, noisy and boisterous. He gives us the impression of being independent, lawless, haughty, even impudent, with a disregard for his neighbors' rights and wishes: like Hotspur, as we meet him in Henry IV, part 1.
To be sure, the jay has his quiet moments, as we shall see, but his mercurial temper, always just below the boiling point, is ever ready to flare up into rage and screaming attack, or, like many another diplomat, beat a crafty retreat. He is a strikingly beautiful bird: blue, black, and white, big and strong, his head carrying a high, pointed crest which in anger shoots upward like a flame. Walter Faxon long ago told me of a distinguished visiting English ornithologist who was eager to see a live blue jay because he considered it the finest bird in the world. He was surprised to find that this beauty, as he called it, is one of our common birds."
There are several ways to carve a pumpkin into a feeder. One of the easiest ways is to cut a small to medium-sized pumpkin (3- to 5-pounds) in half. Scoop out the soft stuff, leaving a shell about 1/2 inch think. Make perches by making small holes and inserting twigs. Use 2 loops of twine to make a basket hanger for the feeder, or purchase a hanger from a local arts and crafts store. Allow the insides to dry before adding sunflower seed.
Another approach for hanging is to stick two dowel rods through the pumpkin from opposite sides, then tie the twine to the dowel rods.
Search Google for "pumpkin bird feeder" to see many creative designs.