Location. Location. Location. Where you put a bird feeder matters. You want to place it where it is close to cover . . . but not where a cat or other predator can hide to pounce. You want to place it within three feet of a window or more than thirty feet out to reduce window strikes. You want to place it so that squirrels can’t reach, climb or jump to the feeder and so that raccoons can’t grab it and carry it off. And you want to place it so you can see it!
But what if you’ve done all that and have your feeder in what you think is a good spot and it is full of fresh seed that the species of birds you are hoping for will like? Will the birds find the feeder? How long might it take? Here is what I’ve learned about adding or moving bird feeders in my yard:
I seem to have a growing collection of bird feeders. Some women can’t stop buying shoes. I can’t stop buying bird feeders. Just when I think I’ve got the yard set up perfectly, some bird dynamic changes, I look for a solution and there I am buying another bird feeder!
The problem I was having was a real pain . . . or a non-problem depending on your point of view. While all birds have their good and bad qualities (as seen by humans), I have mixed feelings about Common Grackles. While I think their feathers can be very beautiful in the sunlight and they are quite clever, their manners at the bird feeders don’t endear themselves to me. They tend to arrive in groups and if they like what they find in a feeder, they’ll hang around all day, dominating the feeders quite aggressively, not letting other birds have a chance.
I only have grackle issues periodically, mostly in the spring when they are moving in really large groups. But this year, a small group of them settled into our neighborhood, decided they liked my feeders and didn’t move on. With a crowd of grackles on the feeders, I was hardly seeing the Carolina Chickadees, White-Breasted Nuthatches and Tufted Titmouses that have been yard regulars for years. Even the finches and sparrows were getting scarce. What to do?
Just as I was congratulating myself that I had gotten my various bird feeders strategically set up around my yard so that they attracted the birds I wanted to attract while keeping squirrels out of the seed . . . a new visitor from nature arrived. While I have yet to actually lay eyes on the furry creature, I’m confident that I’ve got a raccoon as a new yard visitor or resident. Here is the evidence of the critter’s crimes against my bird feeders and my strategy for (hopefully) thwarting the raccoon’s attacks on the food I put out for the birds.
One of the great things about spring here on the east coast is the return of the Ruby Throated Hummingbirds. They are on their way (or may even be here, depending on where you live!) So now is a good time to clean your feeder (or get one if you don’t have one), whip up a batch of sugar water nectar, put up your feeder and start watching for these beautiful little birds. They’ll be hungry after their long trip so make them welcome!
Here in Maryland today, the sun is shining and the wind is gusting. It is beautiful, but gusty wind can sometimes cause problems with hanging feeders.
If you’ve got both hanging bird feeders and squirrels in your yard, you probably have baffles as well. Get the right baffle and you can succeed in both keeping squirrels out of the seed and keeping the feeder a little more protected from wet weather. But while this type of baffle can be great, when you add gusty winds to the mix, things can get very interesting. How do you keep the baffled feeder from kiting around in the wind?
I have a lot of bird feeders. Each new season brings changes to the bird dynamics in the yard so I tend to do some tweaking of feeders or their placement each season. During warmer months, birds have a wider variety of natural foods available so, while they still eat birdseed, they don’t go through as much of it. Now that fall has arrived, birdseed consumption will soon be picking up. I want to see if I can reduce the amount of seed winding up in squirrel bellies this winter, so I made another change in my set-up. This time, it involves turning a ground platform feeder into a platform feeder on top of a pole.
This spring we’ve had a small but very tenacious group of Common Grackles in the yard. They were first dominating the Squirrel Buster Plus feeders, full of sunflower hearts, driving away the smaller birds. Grackles need to eat too of course, but with grackles, the first day you’ll have one. The next day there will be two. Succeeding days will bring three then five then seven . . . So a change was in order.