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Sunday, January 15. 2017
I have gotten a kick out of winter bird-feeding since I was a kid. It helps you find out what is around. The birds don't need it, but when it is frigid and there is snow cover, they certainly appreciate it.
Once you begin, though, you should continue the freebies until March because, in your generosity, you have created dependents.
If you have bears around, forget bird feeding.
I do it on the cheap and in a squirrel-wise way. I buy 50 lb. bags of cracked corn or chicken feed and throw a few handfuls around every morning. Ground feeding birds go for it. They might prefer something else, but they go for it when it's cold. It keeps the squirrels busy too. In my squirrel-proof feeder, I just put the more costly whole sunflower seed that I mix with a small amount of niger seed.
If I bothered to put out suet, I would attract more interesting birds but would have Starlings too.
Around here, most of what we see around the food in January are Juncoes, BC Chickadees, WT Sparrows, Cardinals, Blue Jays, Red Bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Titmouse, Carolina Wren, Mourning Dove, Goldfinch, Fox Sparrow, an occasional Song Sparrow. The occasional Sharpie or Red Tail trying to catch the feeder birds. Sometimes House Sparrows and House Finches, but they don't like this food - which is a good thing. Nothing exciting most of the time. I rarely see Purple Finch, Crossbills, Redpolls, Pine Siskins, or a flock of Evening Grosbeaks. I wish they would visit sometime but I am not on the edge of piney woods. In April, blackbirds arrive.
Mine is like the one in the photo with a collapsible plastic perch thing on the bottom. I got the largest I could find so it only has to be refilled every ten days or two weeks.
If you feed birds, what species are attracted?
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In addition to most of those you mentioned, here in the upstate of SC yellow-rumped and pine warblers, red-breasted nuthatches are attracted also, mostly to suet.
We are in a wooded area, and never get house sparrows or starlings, luckily.
I throw shelled corn into the backyard pond & that occasionally attracts diving ducks, but the geese are regulars.
Here in north central Ohio (eight miles from Kenyon/Gambier), I put out a song bird/cardinal mix plus ear corn for the squirrels plus suet. I get essentially the same list of birds. The sharpies (there is a pair) are new to our area, first arriving about 18 months ago. At first, most of our birds disappeared, but they've learned to cope with the sharpies. The red-tailed have taken mourning doves, but the other birds are too small to bother with. Black vultures are also relatively new, say 4 to 5 years, and the turkey vultures dominate them. We've always had red-tailed hawks and turkey vultures. There are balk eagles about 10 -20 miles away but I've only seen one once over our hill.
We love the cardinals and my husband puts out niger seeds for the American goldfinch and the lesser goldfinch. We see Carolina chickadees and tufted titmouse and the pink house finches. We keep hummingbird food out all year and sometimes see Baltimore orioles rocking the feeder trying to get the sugar water. Lots of hummers, warblers and siskins, but they are hard to see and identify. The wrens are some of my favorites, they are so loud and friendly! My husband built a stone waterfall birdbath out of rock with lots of shallow bathing spots and the birds really like it. They seem to appreciate moving water.I don't feed suet because we have a lot of city rats. I would like to poison them, but I have heard that owls will eat them and die from the poison-we have a lot of owls. So the rats are happy and mostly avoid the traps.
I feed with the 2nd cheapest bagged stuff from Meijer, no cracked corn, as the mice and voles are bad around here. I get chickadees;mourning doves; American tree, and song sparrows; carndinals; blue jays; downy, hairy, and red-bellied woodpeckers (and a pileated, once in a very great while); house finches; titmice; junco; gray nuthatch; once in a while hordes of "Towny" starlings and house sparrows (I hold the food for a couple days until they give up and go away); and when the weather is particularly snowy mockingbirds and robins. I know you aren't supposed to give them bread, but the robins will eat it, and I can't afford meal worms! In the Spring will come the goldfinches, blackbirds, red-winged blackbirds, cowbirds, meadowlarks, chipping sparrows, ducks, house and Carolina wrens. Used to get horned larks, Bobwhite quail, and indigo buntings, but Centex took out all the fence rows. And of course, kestrels, Cooper hawks, and the biggest danged red-tailed hawk you've ever seen (he freaks out the Canada geese).
I put out cheap food in one feeder to draw off house sparrows, and an inverted feeder with niger seed in it.
But I stopped when I found I was also drawing cats.
Squirrels were a problem at the bird feeder at my childhood home. My father solved the problem by adding a metal cone on the bird feeder's pole.
My husband receives photos from a site called Birds on his Facebook page. People send them in from all over the world and they are spectacular, especially the birds from India and South America. I am amazed that such coloring exists in the wild. I don't think the site has a web presence. I remember the first time I saw a painted bunting and it stopped me in my tracks, but the Indian birds are even more colorful.
Here in Southern NH near the Monadnock Mountains, we get a pretty similar collection. This morning we have a blue bird visiting. The red-bellied woodpecker (really red on its head) arrived a couple of weeks ago.
Well this is a treat!
We have been feeding for years here in Western Montana and have occasional surprises. This year an Eastern Bluejay came in late in the fall and we are still seeing him occasionally. We do put out suet and, while we get mostly Flickers and Ravens, about once a month we get a visit from a Pileated Woodpecker and two weeks ago, two of them at once.
For the past 4-5 years we have been getting an increasing number of Ring-Neck Eurasian Doves. Pretty birds but worse than a pigeon infestation. They're bigger than the Mourning Doves and drive those away. I called the F&G about them and they said they don't recognize them as game or songbirds. I'm thinking 12-gauge fodder.
We also have both Cooper's and Sharp-Shinned hawks hunting the feeders--and occasionally eagles hunting the cats.
Last weekend we had a Redtail settle into our garden to feast on his catch of the day.
Couldn't tell what thee catch of the day was, as there was nothing left but a leg and claw and a few ribs.
I saw the same fellow harassing a bush full sparrows as I walked the dog this morning.
City living at its finest!
We're west of Milwaukee, and feed with mixtures of seeds, though two feeders are filled with niger thistle (which is getting very expensive) and suet. Birds: cardinals, red-bellied and pileated woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, nuthatches, flickers, red polls, sparrows (of course - usually english), juncos, chickadees; coopers, red tailed, and sharp-shinned hawks; a few doves (though not as many as before, it seems). We see a few crows, not many. Vultures are a year-round presence now. Tufted titmouse were numerous in previous years, but I didn't see any this season.
southern Nevada. mostly grackles, mocking birds and an occasional haast's eagle.
We keep several hummingbird feeders going all winter. We have lots of Anna's, some Allen's and the occasional Rufous. Our seed feeder does not get regular visitors. We are trying to figure out if it is due to a local Shinnie or if we got it out too late this winter.
City here 2 years ago pretty much put a stop to bird feeders after it was found they were attracting rats and other vermin from far and wide.
30+ miles NW of Philly, we pretty much get your mix, but last summer I looked out the window and 3 young Turkey vultures were standing in a row at the feeder. They are truly large, unattractive birds. I have a suet feeder, and Starling show up in mass, but here in Pa. they are "kill anytime birds" so I have a pellet rifle that makes short work of them. They must communicate somehow, after I shoot a few, the others stay away for quite some time. Maybe a hive mind. Ditto on English Sparrows.
Early in June 2016 a bear wrecked my feeders.
That was a first.
An anti-squirrel tactic that works with suet blocks: smear them with sriracha sauce.
From AVI's wife. Near Manchester NH we can only feed from Dec. 1 through April 1 due to bears. I use sunflowers chips because it attracts the most different kinds of birds. I never use cracked corn because they just throw it on the ground. I also use suet. We get blue jays, cardinals, American goldfinches, tufted titmice, chickadees, juncos, downy woodpeckers, nuthatches, mourning doves, chipping and song sparrows, grackles, purple and house finches. I wish we could feed all year like I used to but we lost too many poles. I do a hummingbird feeder in the summer. We only have the ruby-throated here.
Here in middle TN we use songbird feed mix (no millet or corn) and suet. We have blue jays, cardinals, red breasted woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, pileated woodpeckers, house & purple finches, chickadees, tufted titmice, juncos, brown thrashers, house wrens, mourning doves. It's a very similar mix to AVI's wife's list.
Occasionally we have seen a rose breasted grosbeak, nuthatch, or a rufous sided towhee (when there is snow and bitter cold) at the feeder or on the ground underneath.
We have a squirrel resistant feeder, but those clever critters usually manage to knock some seeds on the ground for their consumption.
Also, our backyard chicken attracts the occasional red tail hawk, which sits on her coop and waits. (We have stopped letting her free range unsupervised.)
Great topic, btw!
Yes, I agree great topic. Here in central NM we also use a songbird mix as well as suet, peanuts, and thistle. We get a wide range of birds including, spotted towhee, downy and ladderback woodpeckers, the occasional northern flicker, junkos, Mtn. chickadee, western bluebirds, pinyon jays, scrub jays, pine siskins, house finches, white crowned sparrows, house sparrows, cactus wrens, mourning doves, whitewing doves, Eurasian doves, Sharp shined, & coopers hawks, American kestrels, road runners, ruby crowned kinglets, yellow rumped warblers, titmouse, robins, cassin's finch, lesser goldfinch. The larger hawks are mostly trying to feed on the doves and robins, but have been know to take what ever they can catch. The Jays and Roadrunners and sparrow hawks (kestrel) are also trying to catch the smaller birds but will take some of the feed on occasion. We feed a different clientele during the spring & summer and a much different group @ our cabin in the mountains of North central NM.