How do you make your yard’s bird feeders a success with a wide variety of birds? If you’ve got more than one or two feeders, and have the space, consider spreading them out! Too many feeders right on top of each other, each appealing to different types of birds, creates congestion and increases conflict as species and personal spaces overlap.
This doesn’t mean that every feeder has to be its own remote island. If you instead think about feeder types and who is likely to visit each feeder, you can instead cluster the ones that make sense to be near each other and leave space in between the clusters that allow various species to eat relatively peacefully at the same time.
This past winter brought a small flock of House Sparrows to my yard. This spring brought a little group of Eastern Bluebirds. House Sparrows compete with bluebirds for nest cavities and will kill bluebirds (eggs, nestlings and adults) in the nest and then build their own nest on top of them. So these non-native sparrows need to go.
You can find all my attempts to get these sparrows to move on in my “Deterring House Sparrows” post. But read on if you’d like more information on one my experiments: a DYI anti-sparrow bird feeder halo inspired by the “Magic Halo” design that folks at the University of Nebraska devised. If you poke around online, you’ll find lots of people have made their own versions of this device. This is how I made mine.
When you first start feeding birds, you might think that you can just buy any birdseed mix, plop it in whatever feeder you like and a wide variety of birds will quickly come flocking. The seed bag probably has a list of all the birds that will eat the food, so all of them should show up at your feeder, right?
Well, they might if you are lucky. But it is also very possible you will wind up with a mob of birds you don’t like dominating the feeder picking through the mix and dropping seed they don’t like on the ground to go to waste. Putting the right feeder in the right location is important, but what you put into it is important too. Here are the foods I offer birds (and foods that I don’t) in my Maryland yard, followed by a list of who eats what.