Tooth, texture… that’s what it’s all about here. If the surface of the feeder is not smooth as glass, the wiggly, crawly delights get hold and simply crawl right out! Now this is a huge advantage to ground feeding birds like robins – ours actually sit and wait below the mealworm feeder. But for bluebirds, chickadees, nuthatches, warblers, swallows and titmice, they have to swoop down to catch their worms if they’ve all crawled out.
So what’s the point of using a hanging dish feeder if worms end up on the ground? Not much! If you’re feeding live worms, it’s best to use a feeder that has absolutely no texture on the inside surface. Worms will stay put longer, and while juveniles are learning to use feeders, this is helpful.
An open dish type feeder will also accommodate a good variety of other treats to entice wild birds. Oranges used in this double-dish model have orioles flocking and teaching babies where the good stuff is! Suet chunks and peanuts are also good options for winter feeding.
Smooth, plexi-glass meal worm feeders like this are available in staked, hanging and even pole-mounted options. They’re durable for year-round use and dishwasher safe. Birds can perch anywhere on the dish – making it easier to land and feed. The vertical hangers are long enough to use with a weather guard, or even a baffle should squirrels be a problem around your place.
If you’re on the squeamish side and can’t bear the thought of live worms, birds will also go for dried worms. In fact they pack more protein per serving! Consider a dish style mealworm feeder this season… they work great for more than just worms!
A recent discussion on the absence of usual numbers of tiny sprites at nectar feeders concluded with several possible scenarios. So today when this email (and plea for help with a new citizen science project) from Audubon was opened… we thought it quite pertinent to what was recently concluded on the declining numbers of these magical birds at backyard hummingbird feeders.
A Rufous Hummingbird weighs less than a french fry and can fly 1,000 miles without food or rest. They may be mighty mites, but there’s one challenge they may not be able to overcome: us.
National Audubon Society scientists estimate that the global population of these amazing flyers has declined nearly 60 percent in the past three decades.
What’s pushing hummingbirds toward the brink? A deadly combination of habitat destruction, toxic pollution and the spread of invasive plants. And now a new threat may overshadow them all: ecological chaos caused by a warming climate. Warmer weather prompts earlier flowering of nectar-bearing plants that hummingbirds rely on during their epic migrations. If the flowers are gone before the birds arrive, they may starve.
The Rufous Hummingbird was common when we were kids. But it’s just one of dozens of familiar bird species headed for trouble.
Audubon has always been at the forefront of protecting birds and their habitats. And as threats have grown, so have the breadth and sophistication of our conservation strategies.
Hummingbirds at Home
This spring, Audubon united cyberspace with a century of citizen science experience to launch a high-tech tracking project called Hummingbirds at Home. Participants can download a mobile app or access a website to report sightings of hummingbirds nationwide. Using the data, our scientists will map conservation strategies to protect these birds’ future.
Hummingbirds at Home is just one of the 21st Century approaches we are taking to secure a future for birds and their habitat. We’re also using Big Data analytics to find hidden patterns in a century of Christmas Bird Count stats. We’re using social media to organize and rally support for bird-friendly laws. And we’re using the web to foster a new generation of bird-lovers who will carry on our conservation work.
Will our children and grandchildren grow up with the wonder of watching a hummingbird hover over the flowerbed or sip nectar from a backyard feeder?
With your help, they will. Please donate today and your gift will go twice as far to protect birds.
Help us save hummingbirds, other birds and their habitats with a generous summer donation to Audubon. And, from now until July 25, your donation will be matched dollar for dollar, up to a total of $200,000!
This letter to the editor appeared in The Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne, IN., a few days ago. We thought it might be of interest to those who are newer to backyard birding and so fascinated with all their feathered visitors. Because all songs are not always good ones, we believed this post was in order, especially when adding bluebird houses around your yard.
“Attracting the right birds takes research, effort
Eight years ago, when my husband and I moved to the Spencerville-Leo country area, I decided to put out a birdhouse. Soon our birdhouse was occupied by a pair of bluebirds and five blue eggs. I thought how easy and why was attracting bluebirds thought to be such a hard task? Unfortunately, I discovered the answer. The main problems for bluebirds are house sparrows.
House sparrows are extremely destructive to American species of birds. House sparrows make a point of taking over nesting sites. Sparrows often and viciously take over nesting boxes inhabited by our American species. They trap adult birds in their nesting boxes and kill adult birds by pecking the skulls. Sadly, sparrows most notoriously attack the baby birds also. Sadly, in one summer I have lost as many as 11 bluebirds, mostly attributable to the sparrow and another non-native American bird, the starling.
If you are thinking about feeding birds or housing birds in your backyard, please be aware of what types of birds you bring into your area. Monitor your nesting boxes often to make sure you are attracting the birds you desire.
Now I feel like I’m starting over attracting bluebirds, but they are well worth the effort. As for my personal opinion toward house sparrows, they are nothing but trouble.
LAURA McCANN Spencerville”
Not all sparrows are bad, so it’s best to familiarize yourself with their identification by their song and plumage. Simply do a search for the ill-willed, non-native bird, and images with tons of resources will appear. Note the differences in male, female and juvenile birds as well. If you are serious about attracting bluebirds to your place, this information will serve you and the birds very well!
Fuzzy picture but great subject matter! That’s Mr. and Mrs. Bluebird again, and tonight they coaxed their babies to the feeders. Of five fledges, two are out and about so far, and mom and dad have claimed the same house for nesting number two.
All those feeders hang from one garden pole, plus an extender branch (which hasn’t even made it to the website yet). They’re great for hanging additional smaller items and give birds lots of perching space around feeders. Last year a small hanging bath was added to the branch. What are all those feeders, and do you think anymore would possibly fit on this pole? Three dishes for mealworms… they’re most popular this time of year as everyone is feeding babies! Cardinals, Catbirds, Nuthatches, Chickadees, Titmice, Phoebes, Carolina Wrens, and of course… the bluebirds. The meal worm grower loves me 🙂 The dark little cup… jelly for the Catbirds. And of course the cone shaped squirrel baffle, it’s a must on every feeder pole around the yard!
The silver silo, or tube bird feeder sees little activity as compared to the worm dishes. It’s filled with Finch Mix, but Goldfinches seem to prefer straight thistle this time of year. Why? Babies! Their diet is pretty exclusive to the tiny black nyjer seed. Another tube feeder containing shelled peanuts is seeing some action, but the worms win hands down!
And speaking of tube bird feeders – have you seen the spiral ones? They’re way cool as more birds get to perch and eat at once. The tubes feature an “all-over” feeding area, and the spiral allows birds to land and eat anywhere on the feeder. No more waiting for an open perch. Available for peanuts, thistle, or mixed seed.
Next time you’re in the grocery store, pick up some grape jelly for the birds. That dish is actually a glass votive holder, but works great for offering jelly too. And don’t forget the oranges as Orioles love them too. Spring may have sprung a little late this year, but the bird show is definitely on!
Helping to demystify the furry creatures and their role in biodiversity would suit them and us well. This photo? Picked off Pinterest, but it sure is kind of cute! But do bats really roost in bat houses? You bet they do if habitat is suitable.
And just why would you want them around your property?
For insect control, bats can eat thousands of mosquitoes and flying pests each night. As a natural and effective method it’s brilliant. As pollinators, they spread and cross-pollinate both annuals and perennials in the garden. As an endangered species, yes! Brown bats are facing decimation due to a virus that still has scientists baffled. White Nose Syndrome is causing controversy with Fish and Wildlife Services – as far as revenue-generating options. Opening caves to the general public as tourist attractions seems to be an ill-thought idea in lieu of the disease and decrease in bat population numbers. Is it a concern? Just ask any farmer who’s had crops wiped out due to an over abundance of insects and pests 🙁
Hundreds of brown bats (or any large group) are referred to as colonies. Larger bat houses containing three or more chambers will host whole colonies. Houses or shelters do not require cleaning or nest removal like birdhouses, simply because they’re used for roosting only.
Suitable habitat consists of nearby woods or heavy brush, preferably with creeks, lakes, or streams in close proximity. Height is important, as bat houses should be placed at least 15-20 feet above ground. Erected on a pole, or the side of a structure is best. The range is broad on the size and type of shelters available. From smaller kits and single-chamber houses for experimenting, to decorative and larger houses to host whole colonies, we’d say it’s definitely worth a try this season!
Dry, dry, dry, it’s been a hot and dry start to summer in the Southeast, which means crawlies of all sorts are already seeking moisture. Pastures are starting to turn crispy as the lush grasses of spring fade away. Sticky nectar solutions we use to lure hummingbirds are always a major attraction for ants, who can become a real nuisance to birds and humans. The tiny sprites just don’t like ants in their nectar… period!
Not only for hummingbird feeders, you can protect oriole, butterfly, and fruit & jelly feeders easily with an ant moat. It will fend off pesky ants by blocking their path with water – because ants can’t swim. The vessel must have water to function properly! No water-no moat-get ants 🙁
Another option is to dab some petroleum jelly on the hook or bracket of the feeder. This works okay for a bit… until the heat melts it and makes a mess. You’d want to be sure nothing drips into the nectar as well.
Lots of hummingbird activity in the beginning of the season seems to have slowed, and even has folks asking where they are? Because flowers and vines are still offering food sources by way of nectar, they’ll always be the first and most natural choice. Due to the harsh winter and late spring, blooms don’t seem to coincide with the time! Our cactus which usually flowers in may, is now in full bloom one month later. than normal. But come July when everything has shriveled, hummingbird activity is sure to increase once again at feeders, so don’t take them down, and do keep nectar fresh.
Pouring too much of that nectar down the drain? First, don’t fill feeders to capacity, and do try the home-made sugar water solution. It’s perfect, and we think hummingbirds prefer it over commercial mixes! No red dye needed either. This simple recipe? 1 cup plain table sugar to 4 cups water… that’s it! Boil just one cup of water to dissolve sugar, add three cups cold water, stir well… and you’re ready to fill. Store unused nectar in the fridge for up to two weeks.
May the tiny sprites bring a smile upon your face, and may you see lots of buzzing activity around your feeders this season!