The past few days the birds have been emptying my feeders on a daily basis. I’ve noticed some new visitors such as the Juncos and another long curved-bill bird that I haven’t identified yet*. The upcoming week is predicting more snow and single-digit temps. Make sure you keep your feeders filled and brush off the snow or chip away the ice, so they can get at the food. That is a little challenging given our frequent snows.
The front-yard feeder below is filled with Wild Birds Unlimited No-Mess Mix – a more expensive food, hence why it’s in a smaller feeder with a tray to capture the spills. It contains shelled sunflowers, white millet and peanuts. All types of birds LOVE it – finches, chickadees, woodpeckers, cardinals, doves and the Juncos and titmice when they stop by. Since there’s no corn in it, the starlings leave it alone. I also have a suet cage in a nearby tree for the woodpeckers. I bought a seed wreath but it’s not working out because it got soaked with rain and it seems it must be hard for the birds to get the seed out.
The backyard wooden feeder below simply contains oilers. The hanging feeder contains thistle for the finches. I have a second finch feeder in another part of the backyard, plus another hanging suet feeder. In addition to the finches, doves also like the thistle seed and will clean up any spilled seed on the ground.
These photos are a little “fuzzy” because I must take them through an inside window to prevent scaring the birds away. I really enjoy having the birds around and have planted certain plants for them. They especially like a pyracantha for protection and it is usually filled with 20-30 birds when they take time out for resting. Its thorns prevent the occasional stray cats from bothering them.
If you would like to start feeding birds, I strongly suggest visiting Wild Birds Unlimited to get quality seed and a good feeder. The seed you find at discount stores or groceries contains seed types that birds don’t eat (like red millet) so you’re wasting your money and it makes a mess under the feeder. Why pay for seed that doesn’t get eaten? I also recommend avoiding any seed mix that has corn as those mixes will attract starlings. As for a good feeder, definitely choose one that’s easy to get the lid off and filled when the temp is 10° and fingers are cold. Plastic feeders can crack when frozen. I hope you enjoy watching the birds as much as I do.
* The unknown bird is a Carolina Wren
I’ve fed the hummingbirds for years, and typically I watch for the male to arrive around Mother’s Day. Males arrive first, then the female comes a few days later.
The male lets me know he’s arrived by buzzing my front windows where the feeder is usually located if I haven’t yet put it out. He hovers within a foot of the window, looking toward the window as if to say, “HEY LADY!”. I find this nothing short of amazing considering that this tiny little bird just finished his trek from the Gulf. Nature can be so phenomenal.
A Twitter friend just tweeted a tracking map that the hummers have already been sited in the area as well as north of here. I guess the warm weather has encouraged them to fly north much earlier than usual. I’ll have to watch for my little guy to return.
I lived in Tucson for a period of time and thoroughly enjoyed the various hummers that live there year-round. Here in central Ohio, we only see the Ruby-throated hummingbird. In Tucson, there were more varieties. I especially enjoyed the tiny Anna’s and Costa’s hummingbirds. The photos in these links don’t do justice to the awesome brilliance of the feathers in the sun.
If you normally feed hummers, you may want to start watching for them to appear. If you haven’t fed hummers in the past and want to start attracting them, I’ve been told that you must put feeders out before they arrive so you can capture them early. They’re very territorial and “protect” their feeder, so you might be able to attract the younger ones who are looking for their own territorial feeder.
- For food, I use ¼ cup of sugar to 1 cup of hot water. No food color is necessary.
- Ants and hornets are likely to become a problem. Check out Wild Birds Unlimited for a plastic ‘gizmo’ that hangs above the feeder with a sticky ant repellent in it. It worked very well. For the hornets, there are bee guards, but I’ve found the hornets still buzz around trying to capture the sugar water.
- There are several plants that hummingbirds really like. They like the red tube flowers, especially fuchsias, if you have a place to hang them. Wild Birds can help you select flowers.
- There are two Wild Birds Unlimited stores that I visit. One is in Dublin on Riverside Dr and the other is in Westerville on State Street.
I saw a lot of people cleaning up their lawns this afternoon putting the waste into the paperbags for pick-up. While that is commendable – and doing the same thing is on my to-do list – there is one thing you should keep in mind.
Don’t clean up every little stick or twig. Why? The birds can use those smaller stems or debris in making their nests. Ornamental grasses are particularly nice due to their fluffy plumes.
If you have some debris that you think might be just perfect for a nest, you could put it all in one location where the birds can find it. You can clean it up after the nest building season is over. It’s a slightly different version of habitat-for-humanity.
You’ll be treated later when you can watch the parents feed their young and teach them about the benefits of your bird feeder.