We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
They do not need it and they are not on food stamps, but it's fun to do. You get to see what birds are around in wintertime, and you get to try to figure out how to defeat the greedy squirrels. It adds vitality to your winter garden, same as butterfly plants do in summertime.
I don't mess around. When it comes to feeding those birds (and squirrels) over the winter, I've got them right where they want me.
(As for the cast-off millet, the local flock of morning doves hoovers all that up with almost alarming efficiency. I'm sure a local fox or two will be enjoying a sumptuous Christmas dinner thanks to me!)
Thanks for that. Easy to spend a fortune on this stuff every winter, but I like seeing the wildlife. Molasses blocks for the deer too, and corn blocks for the squirrels, because the dogs must bark at something and then chase it. Don't forget the suet for when it really gets cold. I have native fruit and nut trees for warmer times, and I plant flowers for the butterflies, songbirds, and hummingbirds too. It's worth it just for the flowers.
I have Mexican plums, figs, and pecans. The squirrels seem to be more interested in acorns. The birds occasionally pick at the figs, and I think the possums and raccoons mostly target the plums. Everybody likes the molasses blocks (wildlife crunch block), because it also has corn and sunflower seeds. The barn owl team keeps the squirrels nervous and prevents them from getting too obnoxious with the dogs.
We recently moved to a new home with some trees around it, the other house was surrounded by woods too, but the birds out here were not used to being fed by a human putting out free dinner. It took a little while but now some come to dine with first light. They have not yet figured out peanut butter which should help them in the winter. The old house birds would empty the peanut butter feeder quickly. I love to see what lives out at the new place but there is a difference in the variety even though it is only about 25 or 30 miles away. More rural here.
Squirrels? I have developed a squirrel-proof arrangement of which I am inordinately proud, as it works—I no longer buy birdseed to feed rodents. I used four empty 2-liter soda bottles, some s-hooks, and some 14 ga. stranded electrical wire.
I drilled 3/16" holes in the center of the cap and the center of the bottom of each soda bottle, and strung them on the wire so they are in two pairs, each pair with bottoms together.
My research (several minutes at google) indicates that a gray squirrel can jump 4' upwards, 5' laterally, and will not voluntarily attempt more than 9' downwards.
I put overhand knots in the wire to hold the bottles together at locations that met or exceeded the jumping parameters when the wire was run from my back porch to a nearby tree, perhaps 50' away. I also took care that the wire was high enough to pass a pickup truck with loaded ladder racks. Three S-hooks put on the wire between the pairs of bottles using a couple half hitches hold two seed feeders (one for big seeds, one for little) and a suet feeder.
It works. No losses to squirrels for a couple years now. The bottles roll if the squirrel tries to cross and dumps them on the ground. I use a boat hook to lift the feeders off of and on to the S-hooks.
JMM—the doves here hang out on an amateur radio antenna wire much higher up and await their chance. Then, when no or few birds are on the ground under the feeders, yep, they swoop in and clean up everything that has fallen to the ground. The cardinals have a similar MO, but come in low, hang on a tree branch for a second, and then go in.
We had a zillion squirrels in Houston, but down here on the Coastal Bend there are very few, despite the live oaks. Too many predators, I guess. Raccoons are usually the ones to attack a feeder. They must be big and fierce enough to stand up to our predators, because there's quite a population.
Our bird-rejected millet drops, sprouts, and comes up looking like a cross between corn and wheat. It's popular with the deer.
We are casual about birdseed, but we put considerable effort into feeding sugar-water to the hummingbirds, especially in their dramatic September migration, when we can have hundreds or even thousands.
We have a tube shaped feeder suspended from a hook at an outside corner of the house. I has a ringed perch at the bottom in line with the openings for access to the food. The perch is attached to a spring such that a heavier creature will cause it to lower and close the openings to the seeds. Squirrels are heavy enough to trigger the closing of the openings. Jays are the largest birds to visit and don't have a problem.