BIRD FEEDERS & HOUSES

 

Bird Feeders

 

Many different styles of feeders are available. Most of us who feed birds have a variety of feeders. These photos show some of the different types of feeders that Village Audubon members use.

If you only have one feeder, it should be an all-purpose tray feeder of fairly large size. It is easy to fill and attracts a large assortment of birds, including cardinals, finches, jays, grosbeaks, blackbirds, nuthatches, chickadees, titmice, and buntings. Indigo buntings and goldfinches love Chuck Hulbert's hanging tray feeder.

 

 

The second feeder should probably be one that attracts insect eaters such as bluebirds, tanagers, woodpeckers, warblers, and others. (by Dianne Wichem)

 

Hanging the log feeder in a wire cage will keep all large birds away from your feeder. If you want all birds except crows to be able to eat at the feeder, enlarge 3 or 4 openings. Even the pileated woodpeckers can manage that. In this photo, papa is gathering food for young junior who is on the tree behind and not very patient about waiting.

Tube feeders for black oil sunflower seeds attract purple finches and rose-breasted grosbeaks, plus many other seed eaters such as cardinals, chickadees, and titmice.

 

Nyger feeders are great during the fall and winter when the goldfinches and pine sisken are here.

 

 

 

Large mesh feeders for peanuts or cashews are favorites of woodpeckers, jays and nuthatches. Dianne Wichern reports that both she and their birds love this feeder.

 

John and Angela Taylor like this feeder that either sends squirrels flying or gives them or any other large animal such as a racoon or oppossums a small electric shock. They say that it is expensive, but worth the money.

 

 

Hummingbird feeders should be easy to fill and clean. Hummers are happy with a basic feeder. Fancy feeders are made to please people.

 

Keep Feeders Clean!

Feeding birds creates an unnatural feeding situation. Disease can easily spread if we allow the seed to mold or if we do not keep the feeders clean.

 

Water is More Important than Food!

Water is the easiest and least expensive way to attract the maximum number of birds. Bird baths should be shallow with sloping sides and have a depth of only about two to three inches. The bird bath should be located in an open area that has plenty of natural shelter about 20 feet away. Ed Dinkens caught this pileated enjoying her bath. In the winter when all the natural supply of water is frozen, an unfrozen birdbath can attract an amazing number and variety of birds.

 

Bird Houses

 

Cavity nesters of the woodpecker family usually make a new nest in a dead tree each year. Their old cavities become useful for other birds, such as bluebirds or chickadees which are unable to make their own nesting cavities. Bird houses offer safe nesting sites to these birds.

 

Choosing bird houses 

Select a bird house to fit the bird's needs. Plain unpainted wood houses of solid construction are best for the birds. The box should have a slanted roof that overhangs the opening so that rain will drain off without getting inside the box. The house should have ventilation holes at the top and drainage holes at the bottom with no perch in front. (Perches help predators gain access to the nest.) Entrance holes should be the correct size for the birds you want to attract. A diameter of 1 and 1/2 inch is best for eastern bluebirds, but is also good for brown-headed nuthatches, titmice, chickadees, and white-breasted nuthatches. The best nest boxes have a protective guard around the opening that prevents squirrels or woodpeckers from enlarging the opening. Size of the box is also important as it should be large enough for the birds you want to attract, but not too large. Nest boxes with a front opening provide easy access for monitoring and for cleaning after the young fledge. 

 

Decorative bird houses may be pleasing for people to look at but do not offer the best housing for the birds.

 

A male bluebird tends to his babies.

 

Maintenance

It is important to keep the house clean. Remove the old nest and clean out the box after the young have fledged.

 

Location

In order to protect the birds, the nest box should be mounted on a post with a predator cone. Mounting a box on a tree or without a predator guard invites predation. The house should be in an open area with little or no ground cover or shrubs nearby. The box should be ten to twenty feet from shrubs or trees that could conceal a snake or other predator.  But, there should be a perch on a tree somewhat nearby as birds usually alight on an open branch rather than fly directly into the box. Bluebirds and other insect eaters like to have an area of grass nearby as a convenient source of food.

 

 

Direction

The box may face in any direction, but during the early spring position the box so that the opening gets morning sun.  Later in the summer if the box is in full afternoon sun, place the back toward the sun. The front should face an open area, not towards a house or the woods. In fledging, the birds usually fly in a straight line from the box. It is good to have a small tree about 20 feet in front of the box to provide a landing spot for the fledglings first flight. A fledgling that lands on a tree is much safer from predators than when it lands on the ground.

 

 

 

 

Click here to view the bluebird houses HSV Audubon makes and sells.