Did you get a bird feeder for Christmas? If not, go “gift” yourself one now for a ticket to a daily show right outside your window, especially during this cold weather. If you are going to have just one feeder, tube feeders are recommended by Audubon as the best choice. Depending on your budget, go for the best constructed feeder for long-time use.
Fill your tube feeder with black oil sunflower seeds, a seed mix, peanuts, or safflower. A visitor like the Northern Cardinal can "make your day"! Their favorite is the sunflower seeds; we have not had many takers for safflower at our house, although it is recommended for some birds. The feeder should be hung no closer than 3 feet to your window, to prevent bird strikes, and at least 5 feet off the ground. Baffles can be added to deter the squirrels. Thistle feeders are a specialized tube feeder for finches and similar birds, offering the small seed through tiny ports. The thistle seed has to be fresh; we have goldfinch swarming our regular tube feeder for sunflower seed, so we forego the thistle.
Another choice is the hopper type feeder; hang these 5 feet off the ground also, to feed seeds and cracked corn. The hopper, looking like a little house, provides some protection for seed from wet weather. Ground feeders, unprotected from wet weather, should have a bottom made of mesh, or other means of drainage and should be placed away from shrubs to eliminate “blinds” for birds’ predators. You can put just about any type of seed other than the very fine thistle in the ground feeder.
The bug eaters among your bird visitors will also enjoy a suet feeder, and we find they attract just about everyone during really cold weather.
Finally, add a birdbath to your feeding area to bring in birds not usually seen at backyard feeders. Recently we have had an Eastern Bluebird and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet coming right outside our kitchen window for water.
We will discuss feeder sanitation in a later post. Now it’s time to sit back and enjoy the show!
Note: The Friends of Hagerman Nature Nook, at Hagerman National Wildlife Refuge has a number of books on backyard birds in stock.