Nov 142009

You’re dreaming of starting your first garden bird feeder.  You are looking forward to sitting back and enjoying all the beautiful birds that will be attracted to your garden bird feeder. You’re picturing all the beautiful blossoms that the birds will be enjoying.  It’s the perfect time of the year to plan a beautiful garden bird feeder.  You don’t need a large yard to set-up a beautiful and decorative garden bird feeder.  The following facts will leave you with  a bird-friendly yard and a natural setting that will be as pleasing to you as it will be for the wild birds.

Establish a bird sanctuary in an area that allows a safe landing site for the birds.  Allocate a spot for your garden bird feeder near trees or shrubs.  Remember, the landscaping doesn’t have to be elaborate.  You may already have a place that has shrubs and trees that you can expand on.  Birds will use the trees and shrubs for protection from predators.  The trees and shrubs will supply the birds with a range of nesting material and nesting sites.  Grow a variety of trees and plants that will yield year round food like berries and seeds that will ripen at different times throughout the year.  Allow a portion of your manicured grass to grow higher by your garden bird feeder.  The higher grass areas provide the birds with an assortment of insects.

A variety of plants will supply the best benefits for the birds.  Consider adding native and summer fruiting plants close to your garden bird feeder.  The food produced by these plants will be well suited for the wild birds that live around you.  Birds feed on a variety of insects that are found on the plants.  Flowering plants produce seeds which is a favorite food source for finches, sparrows and other songbirds. Wild birds come for the seeds more than the blossoms. Remove plants in your garden bird feeder that are not supplying food in favor of plants that do.

Planting flowers is an easy way to attract wild birds to your garden bird feeder. Birds are attracted to your garden bird feeder by numerous types of flowers. Plant flowers that are native to your area.  Hummingbirds will be drawn to the garden bird feeder by red flowers.  Other birds will come to your garden bird feeder for sunflowers, daisies, zinnias and any other flowers with seeds.  This is why it is so important not to cut them down when they are done blooming, it’s the seeds that the birds love.

Actually, you can double the number of wild birds attracted to your garden bird feeder by supplying an adjacent water source.  A water source will even increase the number of different species of wild birds that will be stopping by for a drink.  All species of wild birds will stop at your water station.  Otherwise, you would miss the wild birds that are not attracted to the food source that your garden bird feeder is furnishing.  A bird bath is one of the easiest ways to entice more wild birds.  The bird bath needs to be cleaned and filled with fresh water frequently.  Remember, in the winter, the wild birds look for open sources of water.  By installing a heater in your bird bath you will be pleasantly surprised at the amount of wild birds flocking to your garden bird feeder in the cold months. If you are creating a natural bird sanctuary you could consider incorporating a small pond as your water source in your garden bird feeder.

This sounds like there is so much to do, but don’t be overwhelmed with it.  Start with trees, shrubs and plants that your yard already provides.  Plan the gradual transition of your garden bird feeder over several planting seasons.  It will give you something to look forward to every winter.  Plan and plant only the space that you will be able to easily take care of at your garden bird feeder.

You will find pleasure in the success of your garden bird feeder knowing that you have built a natural habitat and are helping to protect the environment.  Your careful planning of your garden bird feeder will have you enjoying the sights and sounds of the sweet songbirds.  They will enjoy their new habitat and will depend on it in all seasons to come.

Nov 092009

Feeding birds has provided year round entertainment and enjoyment for many people over the years.  Setting up a wild bird feeder is a great way to attract colorful and beautiful birds to your yard.  Along with the pleasure it gives you, the birds will also benefit, especially during a bad winter season when food becomes sparse.  The birds will come to depend on your wild bird feeder.

There are a variety of wild bird feeders available. It’s important to know what type of wild bird feeder will attract the birds in your location.  The different styles of wild bird feeders are window mount, tray or platform, hopper, tube, nyger®, suet and hummingbird feeders.

A window mount wild bird feeder has a small plastic container that is attached to your window with a suction cup. Another type of window mount is a platform wild bird feeder that would be hooked to the frame of the window.  Window mount feeders provide a close-up view of your birds and are the safest for birds–preventing window collisions.  These feeders will attract chickadees, titmice, finches and sparrows. This type of wild bird feeder is the easiest to access and they should be cleaned daily.

A Tray or platform wild bird feeder will attract the greatest number of birds to your bird feeder. The disadvantage of a tray or platform wild bird feeder is that there is no protection.  The seeds may get wet and could develop fungal and bacterial growth.  To eliminate these problems the wild bird feeder should have a drainage hole in the tray or platform and you should only put out enough seed for one or two days at a time.  Keep the wild bird feeder clean because the surface can become soiled as the birds stand in it to feed. A tray feeder will attract ground feeding birds such as cardinals, juncos, doves, jays, blackbirds and sparrows.
A hopper wild bird feeder will attract finches, jays, cardinals, buntings, grosbeaks, sparrows, chickadees and titmice.  The advantage of this feeder is that it protects the seed and can hold several days of food.  The disadvantage is that if the seeds get wet the birds could come in contact with bacteria and fungus that grows on the seeds.  It is much harder to clean the hopper feeder than a platform or tray feeder.
Tube feeders are hollow tubes that contain the seed. There are a variety of styles available. Some with smaller holes will keep jays and grackles away while attracting smaller birds such as grosbeaks, sparrows, finches, titmice and chickadees. There are also wild bird feeders that have the perch above the feeding holes to accommodate the birds that can feed upside down such as goldfinches and chickadees.

A Nyger® wild bird feeder is a tube feeder with very small holes. Nyger® is a small seed that is imported from Asia and Africa and is a favorite food for purple finches, house finches, gold finches, pine siskins, juncos, sparrows and towhees.

A suet wild bird feeder consists of a wire mesh cage that contains suet cakes. Suet cakes contain hardened lard with seeds in it. The fat is an excellent nutritional supplement for the birds. This type of wild bird feeder will attract cardinals, nuthatches, titmice, woodpeckers and blue jays.

A wild bird feeder that contains a sweet liquid nectar will attract hummingbirds. You can buy a prepared mixture or make your own by combining 4 parts water to one part sugar. The nectar in this type of wild bird feeder can ferment very quickly in warm weather so please change the mixture frequently and keep the feeder clean. In the eastern United States only the ruby-throated hummingbird can be found. Sixteen  other species can be found elsewhere in the United States.

Now you can choose your wild bird feeder and sit back and watch those beautiful birds!

Oct 162009
Those cute little furry and fluffy-tailed squirrels can be a nuisance when you are trying to feed and attract birds to your bird feeder. Since squirrels have amazing leaping, climbing and balancing skills, here are some tips to help squirrel proof and prevent those adorable little creatures from disrupting your feeder.

First, the placement of your bird feeder is extremely important when you are trying to keep squirrels away. They somehow find a way to get at the feeder.  It is essential to keep your bird feeder away from trees, fences and buildings where squirrels can easily access the feeder.

Second, a bird feeder can be set-up on a pole with a baffle. A squirrel proof baffle is sloped and has a slick surface so squirrels often slide right off.  You can attach a baffle above your feeder or below it on the pole.  An inverted baffle below the bird feeder will usually stop the squirrel’s climb up the pole.  A technique that many people have found to be effective is attaching a stove pipe to the pole.  Employing any of these ideas will stave off the ground assault.

Another tip to keep the squirrels from jumping and leaping onto your bird feeder is to place the feeder on a wire far from trees and branches. This may eliminate two of their acrobatic stunts but may not stop them from tightrope walking the wire to the bird feeder.

The next option to block squirrels is to buy a feeder that is designed to be squirrel proof. One type has a baffle on top with a long tube to prevent squirrels from hanging from the top and reaching the food. Another type is The Yankee Flipper, an effective and entertaining feeder that will spin the perch when the squirrel touches it (flipping them off unharmed). Some squirrel proof bird feeders have a weight activated perch which closes the seed tube feeding holes to prevent squirrels from getting to the bird seed. After the squirrel gets off the perch the door will go up and allow access to the food for the birds.

One simple remedy may be as easy as choosing the right bird seeds that you feed the birds. Feeding birds thistle seed, safflower seed or suet may help to keep squirrels away as these are not their favorite foods.

Finally, if you can’t beat them, feed them! Set up a station away from your bird feeder where you can place unsalted peanuts, other nuts, and sunflower seeds so that the squirrels can enjoy them and leave your bird feeder alone.

Aug 202009

Bird feeders are a wonderful way to attract different birds to your yard.  There are several factors to consider when trying to invite birds to visit your bird feeder.

First, what type of birds are likely to be in the area?  This can vary by season. During the migration months you may have visitors early in the season and then again as they migrate back to their winter feeding grounds. You will also have the birds that are year round residents. You will soon get to know them.

Next, determine the type of food that the birds you want to draw are most likely to eat. Finches and sparrows eat seeds and grain.  Hummingbirds sip on nectar.  Tanagers eat fruit, while blue birds and woodpeckers will dine on insects. Seed mixes, hummingbird nectar, dehydrated fruit and insect products can all be purchased.

Now it’s time to select your bird feeder.  Chose a feeder that will hold the suitable food.  There are feeders that are designed to hold large or small seeds, some that will hold a syrupy nectar and others that have a small cage to hold a suet cake.  Other factors to consider when purchasing the ideal bird feeder is the size, the ease of filling, and the ability to keep it clean. Plastic bird feeders are generally better than wood ones because bacteria and mold can form more easily on wood bird feeders.

Equally important, is the placement of your bird feeder. Never place it too close to buildings to prevent birds from flying into the windows. You may need to prevent squirrels from getting free meals at your feeder. There are devices available to eliminate this problem. Large birds need to have a landing area close to the bird feeder.  Bird houses nearby increase the probability of birds using your feeder.

And finally, you need to determine your feeding strategy. Will you be feeding all year round or just during the winter? Do you plan on feeding daily? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you decide exactly what bird feeder you need.

Bird feeders can provide year round entertainment. You will be pleasantly surprised by the variety of birds that will be visiting your bird feeder.   So when welcoming birds to your yard remember it takes more thought than just throwing some seeds in a bird feeder.