Birding tips for people who love birds
Attracting Clinging Birds
Hanging Bird Feeders
Bird Feeder Hygiene
Keeping Squirrels Away
Birds and Water
Attracting Clinging Birds
Birds like woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches and titmice feed by clinging to tree trunks, so can be called clingers. Feeding suet or birdseed with peanuts and treenuts are key to attracting clingers. Feeders should start out near the trunks of trees so birds can find them, since this is where they hang out. Once they have found the feeder, it can be moved closer to where you can watch them. In order to thwart competitive birds like starlings, you can get suet feeders that are only accessible upside down - perfect for a clinger, but impossible for a starling. Feeders that are caged also keep out grackles etc. Other feeders allow clingers to grab hold, grab a seed and fly away. A larger feeder filled with seeds gives a larger bird like a woodpecker a place to rest his tail against and balance. He is also big enough to reach way into the feeder for food that is out of reach of the smaller birds, thus reserving this food for woodpeckers, nuthatchers and other clingers. Another nice feeder option is a cedar log with holes drilled in for suet.
Woodpeckers have stiff tails that prop them while climbing. The original "Woody Woodpecker" was a Pileated Woodpecker.
Chickadees are likely to be the first bird to try a new feeder. They will grab one seed and fly away to eat it, then come right back. Chickadees can remember where they found food eight months earlier. They can gain 7-11% of their body weight each day and then loose it on a frigid winter night. Chickadees readily use a nest box or a natural cavity, then all pile together to conserve body heat. The nest box must have an opening only 1 1/8 inch big, 6 inches above the floor. They like to find a house filled about a third full of sawdust or wood chips.
Nuthatchers are small sturdy birds, habitually going down trees headfirst. They will use bird houses.
Titmice have a distinctive "Peter-Peter-Peter" call. Actually Chickadees are a member of the titmouse family. The tufted titmouse is the most common. Many say that it looks like a little cardinal. These last 3 birds are often called 'polite' feeders because of their habit of grabbing one seed and flying away to eat or store it, before coming back for another, making them very entertaining birds. Clingers will readily use nest boxes, especially if there is a short supply of dead timber around. Clingers love sunflower seeds, and high energy suet. This suet can be bought straight from the butcher, or commercially made. The best suet has only suet, peanuts and peanut butter. Look thru our Bird Feeders to suit your needs.
Hanging Bird Feeders
Hang your bird feeders so you get maximum viewing enjoyment, and keep birds safe. To begin with, hang the feeders where birds you want to attract hang out. After birds have discovered your feeders, you can move them closer to where you can see them. Clinging birds like chickadees, woodpeckers, titmice, nuthatchers would need feeders hung near tree trunks. The clingers only feeder is a favorite feeder for them. Hummingbird feeders would start above flowering garden, then be moved closer to you. For tree hangers, use plastic coated hangers that don't damage your trees. Yard hooks should be the type to adjust so you can hang the feeder where you need to. They should also come apart, so that you can slip on a squirrel baffle. If you like squirrels, they can be fed elsewhere and give the birds some peace. Get as tall a hook as you can find, so they are safe from squirrels and cats. Feeders should be at least 4-5 feet off the ground. Make sure deck hooks have a swivel; swing hook onto deck to fill, then shift away so the mess isn't on deck. Many different kinds of feeders are made to hang on windows and bring birds in close. Now enjoy your bird viewing. We have many Bird Feeders to choose from.
Bird Feeder Hygiene
Bird feeder hygiene is very important! It keeps diseases from building up in your bird feeders and bird baths, then spreading to your family or feathered guests, . Wash with a mixture of 1 part bleach and 9 parts water. Then rinse thoroughly. If you don't care for this mixture, other commercial bird feeder cleaning solutions are available on the market. For ease of use, suggest keeping a small bucket with handy cleaning tools in it: a small putty knife to scrape old soiled birdseed from feeders; a long bristled scrubby brush to clean bird baths;a long handled bristle brush for cleaning tube feeders; tiny bristle brushes for nectar feeder ports. Hummingbirds must have all parts of their feeders clean - a dirty, fermented feeder throws off their guidance systems. If your hummingbird feeder has been neglected and dirty, clean it, then move it to a different location, because hummingbirds remember the locations of dirty feeders. Some people try to avoid feeding birds during the summer months, because they want to avoid soiled yard furniture. But there are commercial furniture cleaners for the backyard, complete with bristly scrubbing heads. So remember, you and your family will benefit from having clean feeders and birdbaths.
Keeping Squirrels Away
Most discussions about birds will also end up talking about squirrels and how to stop them. A squirrel can eat its weight in seeds in a week, to say nothing about what they store somewhere else. They are most active in warm weather the first few hours after sunrise, while in winter around noon. They can jump 6 feet straight up, 8 feet sideways and run up to 20 mph. So stopping squirrels is no easy task.
This war is best won on multiple fronts, with multiple feeders, sometimes even by giving them their own feeder. A hanging feeder will need a baffle that is at least 1/3 larger that the feeder it is guarding, or a squirrel will just bounce it sideways and grab hold somewhere, in an entertaining game. The bottom of the feeder needs to be at least 4 1/2 feet off the ground and 8 feet away from a launching spot to the side to be effective. A pole mounted feeder needs to have the bottom of the baffle at least 4 1/2 feet up the pole, and 8 feet from a sideways launching spot. If your feeder locations do not have that clearance, you can try a caged feeder, or a squirrel proof feeder where the weight of the squirrel on the perch pulls down the guard and shuts off access to the feed. They should be made of metal chew-proof material. The latter is pricier and more complex, but have a great success rate. Check out our Squirrel Proof Feeders page. Good Luck!
Birds and Water
Birds need water for drinking. But its also very important for grooming. This is especially important in winter, when they need to keep their feathers fluffed for maximum warmth. A heated birdbath in winter can attract more birds than a birdfeeder! Water will attract birds that don't normally come into your yard, like warblers. A birdbath can be a simple flower pot saucer that you fill up each day. Birds are more comfortable with baths on the ground, but you want to avoid putting it where birds are vulnerable to attack by cats, since wet birds can't fly well. Locate the bath in the shade, preferably near some branches where birds can pause to preen. Birdbaths need to be cleaned every week. Scrub it with a bristly brush, some bleach and remember to rinse very well.
There are many appealing hanging or standing birdbaths on the market. Moving water attracts 10 times more birds than still water, besideds preventing mosquitos from laying eggs. You can use a simple dripping milk jug over water, or fountains and other methods of moving water, like an affordable Water Wiggler or a misting hose. Hummingbirds especially like to zip thru a fine mist. Use these tips and you can help your feathered friends all year long! See the Bird Baths we have to offer.
Hummingbirds are warm weather birds, migrating to warmer climates during the winter. If you live in a warmer area, you will have hummingbirds year round. Some of them may be northern birds who have come south to you. When they are migrating thru your area, they will really appreciate a meal to boost them for further flight. So leaving a feeder out a little later, or a bit earlier can be a big help to the birds and quite satisfying to you. In warm weather, they like water, especially misted water, and will learn to come for daily mist baths if you have one set up for a certain time. Hummingbirds will be attracted to numerous feed sources in your yard, whether flowers or feeders (1 part sugar to 4 parts water). With a feeder, cleanliness is next to godliness, since fermented juice seems to mess up their navigation. They do remember where they got bad sugar water, even the next year, so if your feeder has been unclean, move it to a new location when it is clean again. Be sure to have a small bristle brush and a feeder that comes apart so all parts of it can get cleaned, especially that little opening where they eat. If you have problems with ants all over your feeder, get an ant moat. Fill that little cup with water, and no more ants, since ants can’t swim. Hummingbirds seem to see red, so have bright flowers, or red feeder, etc., to attract their attention. They will come in for a closer look. Soon you will have your feathered friends zipping around for more. Check out our Hummingbird Feeders.
Being a flashy bird, the cardinal is the most desired backyard bird. They can brighten any yard. Sunflower and safflower seeds are a cardinals favorite food, and the best way to attract them. Their big beaks can easily open those seeds. They prefer a low feeder or a platform feeder. Since he is a larger bird, a cardinal needs a perch farther back from a feeder. They rarely use a tube feeder unless it has a sizeable tray under it for him to fit on. Cardinals do not migrate, and are adapting and expanding their habitat with human birdfeeders helping them along. They nest twice a summer, and prefer dense, shrubby habitat, fruit bearing shrubs are even better. Cardinals do not use nest boxes. Cardinals are territorial, and the male bird can batter himself against windows to scare away competitors. Window decals can help prevent this. Like all birds, they like to have water, so they will appreciate a bird bath nearby. Frequently they are the first bird in the morning and the last at night. We have many Bird Feeders to choose from.