Squirrel Proof Bird Feeders for Rain, Sleet and Snow


March 7, 2014
posted by birdhouse chick @ 11:24 pm

This feeder is definitely not squirrel proof!When you’ve finally had enough of squirrel’s shenanigans, you know, chasing off songbirds, stealing all the food, and those constant acrobatics including hanging upside down from your bird feeder… it might be a good time for a one-time investment in squirrel proof bird feeders. Look at this guy acting as if he owns it!

Even if just one quality model that really works, absolutely lasts and has a lifetime warranty. For peace of mind and just to outwit the little critters once and for all, it’s so worth it.

Although this feeder has a dome or weather guard, it sure isn’t squirrel-proof. On the other hand, Squirrel Busters are, and they too now have an optional weather guard to keep seed dry and offer shelter while feeding.The ultimate in squirrel proof bird feeders, there's a new weather guard for the Squirrel Busters

Considering the amount of snow most of the country has seen this winter (and some still seeing it) the weatherguard could actually mean the difference between a meal and starvation for some feathered friends.

Dramatic? Consider that overnight lows with sub-zero temperatures take a wicked amount of energy for a bird’s survival mechanisms. Every calorie is accounted for, just to survive each night like that. Energy’s depleted by first daylight, so when the search for food begins, accessible feeders can be the difference between life or death. Not so dramatic in warmer weather :)

So how do these squirrel proof bird feeders work? First, there’s no batteries or power source to mess with, that’s convenient. An adjustable weight mechanism closes off seed access to squirrels, and bigger bully-birds too. Some other cage-type feeders may operate on this same principle, but they’re not as well made and don’t carry that lifetime warranty either. Like the Postal Service motto: Through rain, sleet and snow… your birds can eat!

Check out the video below, the squirrel action doesn’t start until about midway through, but there’s some cool close-up filming of cardinals, woodpeckers, goldfinches, titmice and other friendly fliers visiting for a bite to eat.

Why Place Finch Feeders Near a Bird Bath?


March 4, 2014
posted by birdhouse chick @ 9:51 pm
Placing finch feeders near a bird bath will entice even more visitors

Photo courtesy of Evolve Campaigns

Fresh water is known to entice more feathered friends than any single feeder or birdhouse. One of the critical elements for just about any life form, birds require fresh water, even in the harshest winter weather. Sure they can eat snow, but it takes work to convert the snow into water and uses precious calories needed to stay warm. That’s why heated baths and de-icers are so popular among dedicated backyard birders-especially this past winter, no… make that this persistent winter!

With the first bulbs forcing through, it White crocus forcing through near tfinch feeders means spring's around the corner!means spring’s around the corner… even if there’s still snow on the ground in your neck of the woods! The calendar and number of hours of daylight are signaling birds it’s time for nesting, to claim a spot, settle down and raise their broods. Although American goldfinches and house finches don’t use natural cavities (or birdhouses) for nesting, you can absolutely attract these cool little fliers to your place with finch feeders and a fresh water source.

Goldfinches can be seen chowing down on straight nyjer or thistle seed (their preferred meal), as well as finch mixes containing finely chopped sunflower hearts and thistle. The latter being more likely to attract a wider variety of species. House and purple finches, cardinals, pine siskins, towhees and several types of sparrows are commonly seen visiting finch feeders.

Thistle socks work best for straight nyjer as opposed to some finch feeders offering seed mixes.The timid demeanor of the vibrant yellow goldfinch keeps them from competing at feeders among crowds. They’d actually prefer to just give up and fly off than to fight for a chance to eat. This not very characteristic of too many birds!

A great way to offer extra feeding space during the busy finch season (without buying several full-blown feeders) is to offer thistle socks. Convenient and inexpensive, these smaller mesh feeders provide several birds a good meal instead of a missed opportunity!

One of very few birds who molts twice per year, their electric yellow breeding plumage has started developing. When all other birds are just about through with nesting for the season, goldfinches are just getting started! Their busy season? Late June through July.

Though they might not be sporting that amazing yellow color, goldfinches are still around. Keep thistle and finch feeders out year-round for best results, to see more of these delightful feathered friends at your place!

Do More with Peanut Bird Feeders


March 1, 2014
posted by birdhouse chick @ 2:57 am

peanut bird feeders and every other feedersit covered in snow at dawnJust a few short weeks (hopefully) and that dreary, brown, snow covered landscape will give way to lush new foliage… and it can’t come soon enough for many of us!

Feeders have been in full swing this winter with hungry birds braving the most frigid days seeking calories to keep warm. Every feeder’s seen its share of flying traffic through this most miserable season.

With bulbs forcing through, birds are already starting to nest in the southeast, we’ve already changed up two peanut bird feeders for another good use… nesting materials!

Any kind of feeder with wide openings works well. Because peanuts are still mighty beneficial to birds, using an extra suet cage is ideal for offering materials.Lots of uses for peanut bird feeders

Here’s one of the cool things about backyard birding. Not too much is cut in stone so to speak. You needn’t buy a full-fledged peanut bird feeder to offer peanuts, nor a complete nesting material kit to offer the materials. Here’s a cool recycled 3-in-1 feeder that perfect for suet, peanuts, nesting material or even fruit in summer. Just be creative and see what works best for your birds!Double Suet Feeder works for peanuts, nesting material and fruit in summer.

That same spring feeder offers peanuts, suet, nest material, and yes… fruit in summer. Oh yeah, and the nesting materials? You can do this one yourself! Cats or dogs? Save their hair (not such a good idea if fluffy or fido has been treated with flea & tick medication). Decorative mosses are another favorite, sphagnum or sheet moss, Spanish moss, coco fibers from old plant liners too. Just be sure they’re clean. Feathers are coveted as well for some species’ nests. Again, just be sure thee have been sanitized, and use light or natural colors in the mix.

Vow to do more with peanut bird fedeers this yearRecently cruising one of the video platforms, a big retailer’s video came up about nesting material. With lots of video views, “how dead wrong” is what came to mind. Cardinals don’t use those shelves, they nest in trees or shrubs. But I guess if you have no trees or shrubs they might use one? And they don’t use that cotton stuff either. Weed stems, twigs, bark, grasses and leaves are what make up cardinal nests in these parts… come on!

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Your Count? Here’ Ours-Sans the New Glass Bird Feeder


February 21, 2014
posted by birdhouse chick @ 4:12 am

Glass bird feeder with large perching area entices many different species of songbirdsActually ceramic and oh so mod, this glass bird feeder offers great versatility.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We counted on Monday, the last day for the 2014 Great backyard Bird Count. Had the event been last week-during the ice storm, more species would’ve been recorded. A warm sunny day saw a bit less activity at feeders than the first half of February when treacherous weather brought a slew of new visitors to this North Georgia yard. But with this warmer weather and the first glimpse of spring… a new glass bird feeder or two always helps to celebrate!

Stationary, the count was limited to the backyard where most of our feeders and baths are placed. Superior habitat occurs with mature pines, shrubs and hardwoods. By the way, the greatest benefit to glass feeders is the non-porous surface. Bacteria and mold can not penetrate surfaces like wood, this makes them healthier for birds. Plus they’re much easier to clean.

No woodpeckers today at the new glass bird feederBut back to the count: Again this year, participation increased over last with 131 countries reporting checklists, as opposed to 110 last year. Although data is still being entered, here’s a brief overview of country, number of species reported, and the number of checklists for that country. Pretty impressive!

United States    643    112,281
Canada    234    12,340
India    806    3,195
Australia    492    854
Mexico    658    451
Costa Rica    554    165
United Kingdom    155    150
Puerto Rico    113    150
Portugal    177    134
Honduras    335    104

Here’s our list for a 30 minute count: 22 species… not too shabby :)

  • Mourning Dove 4
  • Red Bellied Woodpecker 1
  • Downy Woodpecker 1
  • Hairy Woodpecker 1
  • Eastern Phoebe 1
  • Blue Jay 2
  • Carolina Chickadee 3
  • Tufted Titmice 6
  • White-breasted Nuthatch 2
  • Brown-headed Nuthatch 1
  • Carolina Wren 2
  • Eastern Bluebird 2
  • Chipping Sparrows 9
  • Cardinal 6
  • Robin 3
  • American Goldfinch 11
  • Eastern Towhee 2
  • White-throated Sparrow 1
  • Pine Warbler 8
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler 2
  • European Starlings  2
  • American Crow 3

Cornell’s data won’t be complete until the end of the month, but they’ve listed some noticeable trends:

Fewer Finches
After last year’s “superflight,” this year’s GBBC reports for 10 irruptive species (mostly finches) are down considerably. This includes reports for the White-winged and Red crossbills, Common and Hoary redpolls, Pine and Evening grosbeaks, Pine Siskin, Purple Finch, Red-breasted Nuthatches, and Bohemian Waxwings. These are believed to be natural fluctuations in numbers because of variation in seed crops.

Snowy Owl Invasion Continues
A massive irruption of Snowy Owls into the northeastern, mid-Atlantic, and Great Lakes States of the U.S., as well as southeastern Canada, is easily seen in GBBC numbers. Preliminary results show participants reported more than 2,500 Snowy Owls in 25 states and 7 provinces of the U.S. and Canada!

The Polar Vortex Effect
The frigid cold in many parts of North America has resulted in unusual movements of waterfowl and grebes. With the Great Lakes almost completely frozen, some species, such as the White-winged Scoter and the Long-tailed Duck, have fled the frozen lakes and stopped at inland locations where they are not usually found at this time of year.

You can still count birds!
Project FeederWatch is a winter-long survey of birds at your feeders. The lab is offering a 2-for-1 to join this fun project now.

You can always count birds!
Anytime, anywhere in the world you can report bird sightings through eBird. Use the same user name and password you used for the GBBC and keep on counting at eBird.org.
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology is a nonprofit membership institution interpreting and conserving the earth’s biological diversity through research, education, and citizen science focused on birds. Visit the Cornell Lab website at www.birds.cornell.edu

Audubon is dedicated to protecting birds and other wildlife and the habitat that supports them. Our national network of community-based nature centers and chapters, scientific and educational programs, and advocacy on behalf of areas sustaining important bird populations, engage millions of people of all ages and backgrounds in conservation. www.audubon.org

Bird Studies Canada administers regional, national, and international research and monitoring programs that advance the understanding, appreciation, and conservation of wild birds and their habitats. We are Canada’s national body for bird conservation and science, and we are a non-governmental charitable organization. www.birdscanada.org

Get ‘em Ready: Decorative Bird Houses and Then Some


February 17, 2014
posted by birdhouse chick @ 3:34 am

Time to clean and repair decorative birdhouses for nesting seeasonOkay, so maybe this one’s not so decorative, but it’s popular among downy woodpeckers. In time for nesting season 2014, it’s getting a facelift complete with metal predator guard… thanks to squirrels, and my neighbor, Tom. Because the guard was attached without measuring the roof line (duh!) he re-fashioned it to fit perfectly under the roof. Our downy’s say thank you!

Although it may not seem like it… nesting season is under way! Even though there’s still snow, bird’s instincts tell them it’s time. With just a day or two of warmer temperatures and sunshine, there’s already less activity at feeders and more time spent scouting and claiming nest boxes.

So it’s time to get all possible nesting spots ready for vacancy! You may have to drag your ladder through the snow… what? You’re not crazy like us? Remove old nests, and be sure boxes are in good repair, securely attached to their mounts, with no loose or questionable parts. If the entries have been damaged or enlarged, simply attach a predator guard to remedy. Your birds will be pleased :)

Here’s one of our new decorative bird houses that won’t need repair because it’s vinyl and comes with metal predator guards already attached. Vinyl/PVC construction and metal predator guards enhance these decorative bird housesIn a stunning Merlot color for spring, it’s like a two-for-one, it will host two families in the dual nest compartments. Four entrances with two bedrooms are perfect for chickadees, bluebirds, titmice and other small backyard birds.

Townies, the birds who live in the burbs are more likely to see early successful broods and fledges this year than their counterpart county birds. Townies have it good, with feeders, water and housing offered in many scattered backyards. Country birds have a tougher go of it with the miserable weather and what looks to be, a late spring. We hope for the best.

Competition for nest sites is tough out there!
So to help wild birds thrive, just pick out a new decorative bird house and nab 10% off, plus free shipping on $95 or more for President’s Day (all week)… our thanks for housing the birds :)

 

Happy Valentine’s Day… and Thoughts of Spring!


February 14, 2014
posted by birdhouse chick @ 11:59 pm

Wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day

Here’s to thoughts of spring and hungry migrating sprites heading north~

Have your hummingbird feeders ready and filled before they get to your location!  We know, with ice storms and and snow everywhere, this seems ridiculous… but it won’t be long before the tiny sprites start their long and exhausting journey!

Staked Mini-Blossoms by Parasol are a fun way to feed and watch these amazing birds. Place them alone or in pairs, in flower pots or right in the ground to catch some antics from a different vantage. Hand blown recycled glass, these feeders last – and hummingbirds love them! Cadmium and lead-free, they’re good for the birds :)

Now come on spring!

Mini-Blossom Staked Hummingbird feeders

GBBC 2014: Get Ready-Get Set-Count… Just 15 Minutes – this weekend!


February 13, 2014
posted by birdhouse chick @ 12:00 am

The 17th Annual Great Backyard Bird Count wants you!
For just 15 minutes on any day from February 14th-17thGreat Backyard Bird Count Wants You!

 It’s open to everyone, regardless of experience, a fantastic science project for grades K-12 too. Do it this year… for the birds, for science, and for fun!

Folks from more than 100 countries are expected to participate in this year’s Bird Count. Anyone  can count birds for at least 15 minutes on one or more of the specified days and enter their sightings at www.BirdCount.org.  The information gathered by tens of thousands of volunteers helps track the health of bird populations at a scale that would not otherwise be possible.  The GBBC is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society with partner Bird Studies Canada. Great for educators and class projects; kindergarten thru high school, it gets kids outside and involved with the nature! We’ll be posting results online via links to The Cornell Lab once the count has ended!

Last year’s Great Backyard Bird Count shattered records after going global for the first time. Participants reported their bird sightings from all 7 continents, including 111 countries and independent territories. More than 34.5 million birds and 3,610 species were recorded – nearly one-third of the world’s total bird species documented in just four days.

It’s easy to get started… just a few simple steps

A more in-depth video from The Cornell Lab explains how to take part, why participation is needed, and what we can learn from the count.
It’s actually bigger than you think, and you really do matter!

They’re Scouting Bluebird Houses Already!


February 8, 2014
posted by birdhouse chick @ 5:48 pm

Despite snow and adverse conditions, bluebird houses are in high demandDespite adverse conditions of the polar vortex and another extreme winter, bluebirds and others are on the move, searching for suitable digs to raise their young. Even though snow is covering most of the country, Mother Nature’s biological clock tells them it’s time, the calendar and number of daylight hours is what lets them know.

Early migrating birds on the Atlantic Flyway like swallows, warblers and flycatchers rely on insects as they island hop through the Caribbean onto Cuba. When making landfall along the gulf states, their usual smorgasbord of insects, flowers, fruits and berries will be be scarce. Many neo-tropicals, including hummingbirds run the risk of depleting fat reserves before they reach spring breeding grounds here in the US. Simply put, if you think the weather has been an inconvenience – it makes life miserable for wildlife as well, and many birds just won’t make it :(

Closer to home, over-wintering residents like bluebirds are already checking bluebird houses to claim for nesting and raising their broods. With snow on the ground and high temperatures right at freezing, you can hear birds belting out their breeding songs! If there was a way to say “wait… it’s still too cold!” we most certainly would-but then again, man is no force against nature.Male Eastern Bluebird scopes out this bluebird house while a Phoebe's perched on top

Best we can do is help feathered friends along the way by offering fresh water, food, and birdhouses that are ready for nesting. If you haven’t done so already, please check your bluebird houses and remove old nests. Be sure they are secure, sturdy and ready for vacancy. If you can stomach it, live mealworms are their favorite, but suet, peanuts and sunflower hearts also offer much needed fat and proteins.

An Eastern Phoebe perches atop this bluebird house while the male checks out its interior. Phoebes won’t use these houses, but may take up residence in barn swallow nest cups if you offer them in sheltered areas around your home.

During this treacherous weather… please help birds and wildlife with supplemental feeding and a heated water source… thanks on behalf of the birds :)

 

 

The Nastiest Squirrel Baffle Ever


February 3, 2014
posted by birdhouse chick @ 5:46 pm

This has got to be the nastiest squirrel baffle ever-thanks to starlingsWhat a blasted mess, and they were just cleaned a few weeks ago too!

Starlings, European starlings have got to be the most annoying, nastiest bird in our yard. It’s usually temporary and then they move on. But sure as day if they start nesting around here, a scope will be a near-future purchase! Yes, it’s legal to shoot them, aggressive, invasive and non-native, they wreak havoc on native nesting birds like bluebirds, tree swallows and purple martins. Not to mention, they make the worst mess and hog all the food too. Like magicians, a tray full of mealworms can disappear in no time flat!

These baffles were just removed and cleaned not long ago. Starting with pole-mount squirrel baffle (at top) the picture was snapped before cleaning the hanging one. Why? Because there was a post on a social site glorifying starlings! Huh, are you kidding me? How could anyone possibly favor this bird? Is that not one of the filthiest things you’ve ever seen?

Using a squirrel baffle won’t stop starlings, but it sure does stop squirrels if used properly. If a feeder is hanging from a pole or shepherd’s hook, the pole-mount ones work best. They’ll keep squirrels from shimmying up the pole, but the bottom of the baffle must be at least must be at least 4.5 feet from the ground. Otherwise, they’ll jump right passed it. These wrap-around styles are perfect if there’s a ground stake at bottom, or decorative piece at top. Smart, smart design!

If your bird feeder hangs from a branch, then a hanging baffle would be appropriate. It blocks squirrel’s from climbing down onto the feeder from above. Feeder placement however should be at east 8 feet away from anything squirrels might jump from (sideways) to gain feeder access. The bottom of the actual feeder should also be at least 4.5 feet from the ground.

These general specs usually work well… unless you happen to host the occasional uber-squirrel! Feeder and baffle placement may then require some tweaking to avoid the critter’s shenanigans in full! As far as the starlings? They do make traps for these pesky birds… but you’re on your own. Actually the website Sialis.org gives some great examples on starling and house sparrow control if you’re hosting native cavity nesters in your yard.

Be gone dreaded starlings and come on spring!

 

Got Your Nyjer Feeder Ready?


January 30, 2014
posted by birdhouse chick @ 12:57 am

Get your nyjer ready now for warm weather goldGoldfinches are back in droves.. but they’re not quite so gold yet. Still sporting drab winter plumage, it’s not until late spring/early summer when they’ll molt again. It’s the process of shedding old worn feathers to make way for new ones, and goldfinches happen to be one of very few birds who molt twice per year.American goldfinch sporting winter plumage

If your nyjer feeder has been sitting for a while sans activity, the older seed may be moldy, and finches won’t eat it. Consider trashing that old seed, giving the feeder a good cleaning and refilling with fresh goods. Doing this provides a welcome sign for these cool little birds.

One of the larger capacity feeders is shown here – holding 5+ lbs. of seed. A relative of the Rainbow Finch Feeder, the Super version is even better for large finch crowds. With colorful perches and a great design, this nyjer feeder lets you fill from both the top and bottom. This eliminates stale seed piling up at the bottom. By alternating which end is filled with fresh seed, there’s never a build-up of old stuff.

There’s another bird out there now who might easily be confused with the goldfinch. About the same size, but very opposite behavior, warblers can be pretty territorial around bird feeders. Males will fight and fend off others, doing this sort of vertical flight dance where the birds look almost intertwined. Goldfinches on the other hand would rather find another feeder than fight.You won't see warblers at nyjer feeders This is when an extra thistle sock or two come in very handy. Inexpensive and simple to use, they offer extra feeding spots during goldfinches’ busy breeding season. Oh and this warbler… he’s got a mouthful of suet and a big attitude too!

To roll out the welcome mat for finches and other songbirds, offer a consistent fresh water source and keep bird feeders clean. Adding some nesting materials in early spring will also encourage residency at your place!

Offer nesting material along with a nyjer feeder for best results!