There are about a zillion bird feeders on the market. They come in a huge variety of shapes and sizes. They’re made from anything from plastic to wood to gleaming copper. Some hang from supports or tree branches, others perch on posts, attach to deck railings, or are anchored at ground level. Some feeders are designed to attract squirrels and others claim to exclude them. There are feeders to match every kind of seed, from tiny nyjer to peanuts in the shell, plus specialized feeders for corn cobs, suet, meal worms, jelly, fruit halves, and sugar water. With so many to choose from, how can one possibly decide which is the perfect feeder to buy? Continue reading “Choosing a Birdfeeder”
Santa is making his list—what do birds want for Christmas? There are all sorts of recipes and projects that are meant for wild birds, but so often they’re actually meant to keep us birdwatchers entertained. No one asked the birds for their opinion.
If you really want to please the birds, how about…
A special treat to eat
One year I received a pine cone, cleverly rolled in suet and peanut butter, then in millet. The greasy mixture held (most of) the seed in place. It was adorned with a ribbon for hanging outside as a treat for the birds.
As we gather to give gifts to one another, it’s only natural for birders to offer special treats for the birds. There are lots of options.
The best all-around feeder-filler is black oil sunflower seed. It’s high in energy and easy for small beaks to crack open. It’s enthusiastically consumed by chickadees, finches, nuthatches (such as this White-breasted Nuthatch at right), jays, grosbeaks, blackbirds, and many more species. Plus, these seeds are readily available at a reasonable price.
More expensive, but especially attractive to Pine Siskins, is Nyjer seed. These tiny black seeds (also called thistle) are imported from Africa. You’ll need a special feeder with smaller holes, or a fabric “sock” sold for the purpose. One advantage is that the seed is treated to prevent sprouting—you’ll have no Nyjer weeds to pull in the spring.
The tiny bird fluffs its feathers against the cold, while the north wind whips sleet into the pine branches surrounding its perch. With all water sources frozen, it has to use precious body warmth to melt the snow it eats. Last year’s crop of seeds is buried under a layer of white. Wild birds are amazingly hardy creatures, but even the sturdiest Mountain Chickadee (above) finds conditions like these a challenge.
There are a number of ways we can make our yards more hospitable to wintering birds. They need food, water, and shelter to survive. With increased urbanization, all three of these are becoming more scarce, so our efforts may make the difference in whether or not a bird survives until spring.