Flock of bird feeder questions

I recently purchased a house in a nice rural location. I have placed two bird feeders about 15 yards from my back deck, where I sit in the morning and evening watching the birds and drinking coffee/vodka/etc. About thirty yards from the feeders is a wooded area. I have come up with some questions and would appreciate any/all help…

1)** Why do birds go to feeders?** When I first hung the feeders I got zero traffic. For about a week. Now it is Grand Central Station. What made the first bird check out my feeders? Certainly a bird doesn’t look at a little cedar cabin and think “food!”. Seeds do not have much in the way of scent, do they?

  1. What seeds should I offer? I currently have niger, safflower, and a sunflower mix on the menu. I am in western Pennsylvania. The birds at my feeders are sparrows, house finches, goldfinches, and the like. Would different seeds attract different species?

  2. Current thoughts on hummers The birds, that is. Sitting on my deck I would see hummingbirds approach one side of the deck roof. I assumed the prior owner had a feeder there. So I hung one and it is visited regularly. Is it good to feed them? What should I feed?

  3. Murder of Crows The other day I woke up and looked outside and there were 6 crows on the ground where my feeders are located. 'Sup wif dat? :wink:

  4. Shrubs I think it would look cool to plant some shrubs around my feeders. Any good choices?

  5. Stuck up Cardinals It seems Cardinals are shy about visiting my feeder. Are they more cautious because they are attractive prey species? And what about Blue Jays?

  6. Attracting Insectivores I would really like to share my mosquitoes with the birds. Is there any way to make my little ecosystem attractive to birds that like bugs? When I did more wildlife vet work I remember opening up a dead nighthawk and its crop contained thousands/millions of mosquito sized insects!

Thanks! :smiley:

Here’s my recent staff report: How do birds find bird feeders? I don’t know why the birds took so long to find your feeders in this particular instance.

There shouldn’t be any problem feeding them. A mixture made of plain old table sugar and water is fine; no other supplements or dyes are necessary. Whatever you do, don’t use honey. Make sure to keep the feeder clean. (IMO, cleaning every few days is OK but some recommend more frequently). I’m sure other posters will provide more detailed advice, and there are lots of websites out there too.

Dunno. Maybe mice are coming to feed on the falled seed and they are interested in catching them.

It could be the local pair of Cardinals is feeding nestlings, which need to be fed mostly on insects rather than seeds. They may be more interested in the seeds later in the year.

If you are in the right part of the country, you could put up a Purple Martin house. Some swallows also like to nest under eaves or other sheltered spots. Nighthawks may nest on flat roofs, but as they nest singly rather than in colonies they would be less effecitive.

Thank you! I was hoping you would stop by. I will be getting/installing a purple martin house this weekend. :smiley:

Try reading this incorrectly - without the “and” - and thinking “WTF is this guy giving the birds??? Mine have to make do with seeds and water!!!” :smiley:

I’m no expert but supposedly different seed mixtures attract different kinds of birds.

I tried a mixture of black oil sunflower seeds and safflower seeds and didn’t get much interest though they’re both supposed to attract cardinals. I still got the occasional cardinal pair, but the other birds (finches etc.) ignored it. I switched back to the generic mixture from the grocery store and got plenty of smaller birds, as well as the cardinals.

We’re in Northern Virginia and have gotten at least one pair of cardinals as regular visitors, all summer long. We get a fair number of pigeons / doves also, though they just eat the spillage on the ground as they’re too heavy for the feeder shelf itself. Also squirrels. I don’t mind the squirrels eating the spillage as it reduces sprouting; the feeder is squirrel resistant so the buggers can’t empty it out the way they did the suet feeder I tried last winter.

I’ve seen blue jays once or twice but they’re not frequent visitors. A couple years back I saw a red-winged blackbird (black, with one red and one yellow stripe on each wing), that was cool.

Consider putting a birdbath outside, also (but remember to empty/refill it once or twice a week to reduce skeeter breeding opportunities) - birds often splash in ours.

I forgot about my bird bath! I bought it a few days ago. Hasn’t been used yet. Maybe the birds are waiting for tiny lil guest towels. Here it is:

Nyger seed is best for attracting finches (both house & gold.) If you want to attract blue jays (and, it must be said, squirrels), try to find unroasted, unsalted peanuts (in the shell or out.) My parents put them out in the winter and the blue jays go nuts rimshot for them.

If you want to get another food source for your feathered friends, you might consider some kind of fruit-bearing bushes – saskatoons, chokecherries, and mountain ash spring to mind, although they’re more low trees than bushes. Go to your local garden center and ask them what they’d recommend.

I personally prefer not to attract bluejays and squirrels any more than necessary–at least not around the “main” feeders. Both tend to scare away other birds, and they will actually eat anything you put in the feeder, once they’ve gotten used to eating there.

We have one feeder in the front of our house, next to a normal boxwood hedge that was there when we moved in. We have numerous small birds that live in the hedge, especially in the winter, since it’s a convenient hiding place close to food. The only disadvantage is that they are all awake with the dawn, and can make a tremendous racket in the morning, right outside our bedroom windows.

If you want to add plants, though, you might want to look into plants that are butterfly- and/or hummingbird-friendly. Sedum, which grows very low to the ground, blooms in the fall, dies off in the winter, and comes back in the spring, would probably be a good plant around the feeder.

We have also found that cardinals really don’t like bird feeders in the summer, but we see lots in the winter.

It’s so interesting to think about what’s common in one area and what’s uncommon in others. Everywhere around here one sees red-winged blackbirds. They’re practically nuisances. We live in a residential area about a block from Lake Michigan, where there’s lots of foot, boat, car, etc. traffic. And they nest all over. Dive bomb the joggers, etc. Scratch for food on the lawns. As common as robins. Cool, but common. But try to find an indigo bunting or a Baltimore oriole, and you’re out of luck. I’ve seen maybe two of each in 15 years here. But in other parts of the country, they’re much more common. Obvious. But interesting. xo, C.

When I lived in Philly, there were Flickers everywhere. In the western end of PA they are rare.

In Philly I worked for a wildlife group. Over the course of a week we had 5 woodcocks brought in. Nobody there had ever seen one; migration pattern was the “explaination” we came up with.

(1) birds can be shy, or suspicious about anything new/different in their environment.

(2) depends on the type of birds that frequent your area/state. But Purina Wildbird Chow, Premium Picnic blend (has dry fruit which they love).

(3) HomeDepot has plenty of hummingbird preferred foods, check them out.

(4) They could be predators of other birds.

(5) Shrubs, bushes are great to have near your feeders because if birds sense a predator is nearby they can quickly dash for the bush/hedge for protection… however if you’ve got plenty of squirrels around, bushes/hedges enable them to jump onto feeders.
5) Shrubs I think it would look cool to plant some shrubs around my feeders. Any good choices?

(6) cardinals aren’t stuckup, maybe extra precautious, and Blue Jays are the same, but they tend to frighten other birds away… both frequent our feeders, and IMPORTANT NOTE REGARDING FEEDERS: DONT buy those silly houses!!! PLATFORM FEEDERS are the BEST… we have both and the gazebo-like feeder in the back rarely gets visited, and only one bird at a time, AS birds do not feel comfortable entering a space that could serve as a TRAP FOR THEIR PREDATORS… Platform feeders are superb and many many times i look out my window at that feeder and can count no less than 12 birds on at a time, and huge Blue jays visit, male and females… and many Cardinals too, also males and females.

(7) Place Purple Martin bird houses nxt to eachother… and wait for them to frequent your property, then they’ll make it their home and feast on the mosquitoes.

If you’re interested in berries, ask your nursery-worker (nurser?) about plants native to you area. Since the birds are native, they will prefer native plants.

Also, keep in mind that some bearing plants come in male and female varieties. The males won’t produce fruit, and the females won’t produce fruit (or will produce less, I’m not sure as IANANurser) unless there is a male in the vicinity.

hehehe…but they are sooooo cute. I have one cedar cabin (complete with chimney) and one “real” feeder. The birds crowd the real feeder and usually only one bird is at the cabin.

I’ve got a bird bath on my front lawn, and I’m always seeing some bird, or birds, taking a ‘splash bath’.

With todays 103 degree heat, for the first time that I ever noticed, everyone stopping by was taking a drink. No swimming today. I just went out and re- filled it.