Tag Archives: Wild Birds Unlimited

Great Squirrel-Proof feeders

Brome Standard feeder

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Last fall I bought my first “squirrel-proof” bird feeder – a Brome Standard. It’s rather small but a good size for the expensive No-Mess seed from Wild Birds Unlimited that I put in it. The feeder has a center post that is adjustable to increase/decrease the weight of birds that can use the feeder without the ports being shut off. That’s very effective for keeping the nasty grackles and starlings away. I use a seed catcher below the feeder to minimize waste. The Doves are good at cleaning up the fallen seed. This feeder has done a good job at stopping the squirrels.

My main feeder was a wooden hopper style that hung on a high shepherd’s hook with a squirrel baffle below. The squirrels easily jumped on top of the baffle, then climbed up the pole to the feeder. They would empty it in a day!

So I began researching the various larger styles of “squirrel-proof” feeders. Surprisingly several of them were dangerous to birds – even causing their death – because they got their heads or feet trapped by the moving parts if heavier birds or squirrel jumped on the feeder. I checked out the Brome Squirrel Buster Plus which seemed to be effective without worry of hurting the birds. It can be hung freely from a tree limb or installed on a special pole system.

WBU Squirrel Buster bird feeder

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I opted to buy Wild Birds Unlimited version of the Brome system – made by Brome for WBU. Brome doesn’t sell the poles but WBU does. That way I was assured the poles would be the right size for the feeder. I added the seed tray to prevent mess underneath and allow birds to feed on the tray. The little red cup holds mealy worms.

The gray squirrels can jump from the ground up to the seed tray, but when they pull down on the circular perch, the port holes close. So far they can only eat the seed that birds flip out of the port holes. If I were a taller person I would

Squirrel on Brome feeder

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have bought another pole extension to raise the height of the tray, but reaching the feeder to lift it off the pole to fill is currently at my maximum reach. So the gray squirrel wins! Red squirrel haven’t been on the feeder at all.

I’ve had to play around with the weight adjustment pole since there are 6 feeding ports. When 4 or more finches sit on the perch, it tends to be enough weight to partially close the ports. So far the birds seem to love the new system and took to it very quickly. Finches, sparrows, chickadees, titmouse, Downy woodpeckers, cardinals, red-chested woodpeckers have all been at the feeder. They seem to enjoy not having to share with the squirrels.

two Brome squirrel-proof feeders

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This system is NOT inexpensive but I think it will eventually be a cost savings. Where the hopper feeder would be empty in a day, this feeder has needed filled only once a week! YAY!!

HAPPY BIRDS … HAPPY LIFE!

Don’t feel too sorry for the squirrels. They still have their unshelled peanut box!

Raccoons can be a pain in the ………

raccoonThis summer I’ve been receiving visitors at night. I know I’m not alone at not being entirely thrilled to have them. These masked critters can do a lot of damage to homes if they decide to make a den in an attic or under a shed. They also can have a bad attitude. You may also have seen the funny videos of a raccoon entering a pet door to eat the pet’s food.

Since finding my yard, they have broken two plastic bird feeders and a tray to catch seed under a feeder.raccoon bends shepherd's hook I replaced one of the feeders with a wooden one that hung in my backyard on a shepherd’s hook outside my bedroom window. Last Thursday the shepherd’s hook was totally bent to the ground with the feeder and hanging plant on the ground – smashing the plants underneath.

I made a trip to Home Depot to get some fencing to “prevent” them from climbing pole to get to the feeder. I chose chicken wire since they couldn’t climb it. I also got some 4ft rebar and ground stakes to prevent them from going under the fencing. I then decided to use a taller shepherd’s hook that was already in place near my back door.

raccoon fencing

The 50-ish Home Depot salesman kept chuckling at my plans. He suggested I take VP Joe Biden’s advice to get a shotgun. 🙂

Last night, a little after 9:00pm, I looked out the door to check on things. The raccoon had bypassed the fence by going up the steps to climb on the hand railing. It was sitting on the rail with one of its hands holding the feeder while the other hand scooped the seed. I banged on the door and it scampered away.gate to block raccoon

Since it was dark, I decided to put up a dog gate to deter it until I could come up with another plan.

This morning I awoke early – while dark – and again looked out the door. I could see the feeder moving. One raccoon was standing between the gate and railing, reaching through the rails to get the seed. A SECOND one was sitting on top of the chicken wire near the railing to get its fill. I opened the door slightly and both scampered, but the one on the porch turned around at the bottom of the steps to stare at me. I’m certain it said, “na-na-na-na-na“.

tree nutty bird seedI put a different type of seed in each of my feeders based on the type of bird I want to attract. This feeder has a mix that appeals to chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, cardinals and bluejays. It contains various tree nuts, peanuts, sunflower seeds and raisins. That’s why the raccoons like it so much.

So today, I hung the feeder on a small limb in the pear tree. The limb “should” be too small to climb and the feeder “should” be too far to reach from the trunk. Plus, the height “should” be too high to jump to. I’ll see how it goes. I may have to EDIT this post to add more. 🙂Backyard bird feeder

Related Site:
Wild Birds Unlimited

The birds need your help

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.

birdfeeder

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.

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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

Hummers “might” be ba-a-ack

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.

Feeder Hints:

  • 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.

The birds eat better than I do.

I’ve been feeding birds for many, many years. I find it relaxing to watch them as they prepare to build their nests in the spring, then later bring their young around to teach them about the “good” food that magically appears for them. Of course, during the winter months, keeping the feeders full is simply a good, humane thing to do.

I can always count on the cardinals to stop by early in the evening, and scold me if there isn’t any food. The chickadees visit throughout the day, flitting from the tree to the hanging feeder underneath. The tree outside my great room is a canopy shape so it provides good hiding protection from bigger birds.

In the backyard, I have a thistle feeder for goldfinches. It’s set off by itself because they tend to be more timid birds and don’t like to compete with others. There are several pairs that visit and they look like tiny rays of sunshine when several bright yellow males feed all at once.

Then there’s a larger feeder out by the spruce trees that I fill with oilers. The sparrows, cardinals, and doves keep it drained of food. Once in a while a hawk visits, sitting on the fence to see what prey he can carry off. When he/she arrives, all the other birds escape quietly to the spruces for cover.

The front feeder, under the canopy, is where I put the “prime” food. I use a no-mess mix that is sunflower hearts, peanuts, etc. The birds LOVE it! But so does this little guy. He has to be an acrobat to reach the feeder, but somehow he manages. He fills his pouches … runs off … comes back for more … and so on.

I had to buy more seed today, and since I happened to be in Westerville, I stopped by Wild Birds Unlimited on State St. If I’m in the Dublin or Hilliard area, I stop at their store on Riverside Dr, just north of Hayden Run. They have a new product called Jim’s Birdacious Bark Butter. It’s a peanut butter and suet mixture that can be spread on tree bark. I bought it JUST FOR the chipmunk, hoping that he’ll leave the good seed alone.

We’ll see how well that works!

Have you ever wondered why a chipmunk is cute, but a mouse isn’t?