Seeds can be
put in a variety of feeders and placed in different parts of the
yard. Birds such as towhees, juncos, and sparrows prefer to look
for a meal on the ground. Scattering seeds amid leaves and ground
litter will cater to their preferences. (Don't feed birds on the
ground if you have an outdoor house cat.) Other birds prefer feeders
placed off the ground.
You can control what kinds of birds come to your bird feeders by
the type of feeder you use. To discourage starlings, crows, and
house sparrows, for example, you can use selective feeders. These
feeders are small and have short perches or no perches at all. They
invite smaller, more agile birds such as chickadees and nuthatches
while discouraging the larger birds. Nonselective feeders are larger
and have an ample perching area. They invite all birds regardless
of their size and dexterity. Whether you build your own or purchase
one, feeders come in several different styles:
Hoppers release food as it is eaten. Seed is funnelled to a bottom
tray where birds perch. Hoppers provide a stable perch that can
be mounted on posts, platforms and windowsills, or hung from branches
and eaves. Sometimes a hopper feeder is mounted on a pulley strung
between a tree and a window, allowing the feeder to be “reeled
in” for refills or to get shy birds to come closer to the
house. Because they store and release seed as it’s used, hoppers
offer a consistent food source with little maintenance. However,
be sure the seed is not getting moldy in wet weather.
Tube feeders are cylinders that store and release seed at several
feeding outlets with adjacent perches. The larger types hold enough
seed to last for several days, and the clear plastic makes it easy
to see when a refill is needed. Because they hang freely from branches
and house eaves, tube feeders are well suited to chickadees, house
finches and other small birds. The unsteadiness and limited perching
space discourage larger, more aggressive birds. Tube feeders can
be made even more selective by shortening the perch to 1/2 inch
or so, or removing it altogether. Goldfinches and siskins are attracted
to special tube feeders with slit-like openings allowing thistle
seeds to be taken one at a time.
Platform feeders provide a spacious, stable perch where food can
be spread out for several birds at a time. A rim around the edge
reduces spilling and prevents food from being blown away. These
feeders can be mounted at various heights on posts, windowsills,
decks, and other structures. Anything can be put in a platform feeder—seeds,
suet, and fruits. Because of their size, platform feeders are nonselective
and inviting to any and all birds.
Suet feeders hold chunks of suet to prevent birds from flying away
with large pieces. Commercial suet feeders are available amd inexpensive.
Softened suet can be pressed into pine cones or into holes drilled
in small logs. Suet feeders can be hung at least 5 feet off the
ground so squirrels and other mammals can’t get to them.
Feeder placement should allow you to watch birds without being so
close that your movements scare them away. Use a location as quiet
and undisturbed as possible—away from traffic, noisy pets
and house entrances. Feeders placed near a sliding window allow
comfortable viewing and easy refilling. Don’t hang a feeder
so high that refilling it is too much trouble.
Many birds are killed by flying into windows. Generally, they see
a reflection and a seemingly open passageway. Birds are especially
prone to these collisions when fleeing from prey or when startled
by loud noises. In addition, problems with window collisions may
increase after a bird has indulged in its annual binge of fermented
berries. During breeding season, male birds including robins, woodpeckers,
and hummingbirds may "fight" their own reflections in
To prevent window
- Install black
plastic garden-protection netting mounted on frames or stapled
below the eaves to below the windows.
- Attach screens,
clear plastic, twine, streamers, or closely spaced adhesives strips
on the outside of the window.
soap over the outside of the window to create a dull appearance.
- Close the
curtains on one side of a large corner window, to prevent birds
seeing through a corner of the house and attempt to fly through.
- Either move
the feeders farther (15 feet or more) from the window or place
them next to the window (no more than 2' away) so birds don't
get up to flight speed before hitting the window.
To prevent disease and poisoning birds, keep your feeders clean,
dry, and free from mold. About every other week remove all seed,
fruit etc., then clean and dry the feeders.
For good feeder
- Buy from
sources that offer the proper varieties of fresh seed.
- Use feeders
that can easily be washed.
- Keep feeders
(and birdbaths) clean by washing them in solution of 10 percent
chlorine bleach and warm water at least once a month during heavy
feeding times. Any solution should be rinsed thoroughly and the
bird feeder dried completely before refilling.
- Put only
one day's worth of food out on platform feeders.
- Keep stored
- Use feeders
that are covered or sheltered from the rain and snow, and types
that don't allow birds to stand where their droppings will fall
into the seed.
- Move the