Could it actually be… a bear-proof bird feeder?
It’s not here yet, but due in December is a steel tube bird feeder by Birds Choice with claims to be bear resistant.
Although we’ve not seen them in our own GA backyard, many folks (both on the outskirts and in residential neighborhoods) have posted videos and pics of bears destroying their bird feeders… big time too! Whole feeding stations are decimated, and it’s highly unlikely you’ll command said bear to cease and desist either. Worse part is that it becomes habitual for them.
They’re extremely smart and considered problem solvers. Once a food source is discovered, you can bet they’ll return. They like the same foods as birds; seed mixes with black oil sunflower, peanuts, suet and sweet nectar too. That’s why Yogi and Boo-boo hung out at the park… for pic-i-nic baskets 🙂
We’ve seen large raccoons grabbing hold of hummingbird feeders with both hands and guzzle like it was beer, but it doesn’t really compare to a bear in your yard.
Wait… quite possibly we’re in their yards, thus the troubling and increasing episodes with the new urban bear and human contact. Through no fault of its own the bear usually loses, and we hear it on the news all too frequently 🙁
While this video is pretty fascinating to watch… it’s just not a good scenario in the bigger picture.
So back to the steel tube feeder: It features 5 small windows on each side to monitor seed levels and 6 perches that look large enough for cardinals’ comfort. Powder-coated steel tube holds 3.5 quarts, top removes for filling with removable bottom for clean-out. Overall measurements are 25.5″ tall x 8″ diameter, with a hefty weight of 9 lbs.
After viewing some of these bear vs. bird feeder videos, you might need to hang this one high, or secure it (really well) to something so the bear doesn’t walk off with it!
When it comes to a tube bird feeder, they needn’t be straight or boring, some have spirals instead of perches while some may offer “all-over” feeding space. The amount of bird traffic in your yard may help decipher best size and style, and of course aesthetics!
For optimal bird attraction and the widest variety of species, you can’t miss with black oil sunflower seed. We like using the hearts or meats as they leave less ground mess below feeders. More birds are likely to chow down as there’s no hull to crack, there’s literally no waste with this pure seed. The Wave Tube Feeder is a groovy variation of the boring straight tube style. It’s available for both black oil sunflower and thistle (or nyjer seed). Handcrafted in the USA, its cedar construction makes it durable for years of use.
Thistle seed, also known as nyjer or nyger, attracts goldfinches, house and purple finches, red polls, buntings and other finch-family birds. It won’t make make too much of a mess either as it’s a non-germinating seed. Hulls may accumulate, but they’re tiny and won’t sprout weeds. It’s also a great offering to attract even more friendly fliers to your place.
These mushroom top ceramic tube feeders are equally groovy, adding a whimsical splash of color to the landscape. Many a songbird would be happy to perch here for a meal on cold winter days! Cold? Yes, these feeders are frost-proof via process of twice-firing. They’re safe outdoors year-round, also handcrafted in the USA. The colors run the rainbow from cherry bomb to funtasmic blue… and everything in between!
Protect your feeders from thieving destructive squirrels with a baffle, it’s only thing that really works to deter the critters. Birds dine in peace and hosts have less head aches. Place feeders so that squirrels can’t gain access by jumping sideways from something too. Feeder placement is always key in winning this war!
More so than any type of feeder or birdhouse, fresh water entices more birds everyday throughout the year. Even in frigid weather, they’ll flock to a functional bath. Adding a heater to your existing birdbath (instead of turning it over for winter) will bring birds on the greyest, coldest days of winter… brightening your day too!
Maybe it’s seen better life and about ready for the trash, but don’t toss that nasty old thing yet! There could still be purpose for an old tube bird feeder, especially if it’s the kind enclosed by a cage.
With bulbs a- blooming and buds a- popping, spring finally takes flight… at least in the southeast. It won’t be long for the rest of the country either, and oh what a welcome site it is! Cabin fever be gone, it’s gardening time, spring cleaning in the yard, and one of the best times for backyard bird action!
When sprucing up, don’t trash the debris either! Consider a small brush pile in one corner of your property, it not only provides shelter but food for birds and others to forage.
So back to the cage thing, it’s absolutely perfect for offering nesting materials. You can help birds feather their nests with a few common materials that may be on hand. Fido or fluffy? Save the hair, chickadees and titmice will line their nests with the soft fluff. Decorative mosses are really popular with Carolina wrens, jays and chickadees will use them too. Lots of folks use cotton yarn scraps, but if they’re dyed… I dunno? Same with dryer lint, it’s not natural for birds, so we steer clear. Feathers of any kind (sans the dye) also help in construction of soft fluffy digs. Even birds who don’t use houses will benefit from readily available nest materials!
Don’t have one of those caged things on hand? Suet baskets are also ideal, and something like these spring feeders are perfectly versatile for year-round use. For fruit in summer, whole peanuts or suet in winter, and of course, nesting materials now. Happy Spring y’all!
Tired of lamenting over the neighbor’s cat, I decided to ask an expert birder if he could identify the predator by the formation of feathers left below the feeder. It’s a groovy tube bird feeder in a mod design that accommodates thistle or sunflower seed, ours is filled with the latter. Varied species frequent it, and even though cat birds don’t go for sunflower seed… I believe that’s who the casualty was in this case.
To me, he’s a wealth of knowledge on all things birding and nature related. Not sure if he’s blogging himself, or has ever written professionally, but his stories fascinate me.
So I asked Mr. Keith Kridler of Mt. Pleasant, Tx, if he could tell by the formation of these feathers, who was the predator here? Did it look like the work of cat or hawk? Even though there’s a 50/50 shot at the correct answer… he couldn’t tell me with 100% accuracy. He did however mention certain clues to look for, and that a bit of further investigation might reveal my answer.
The next day there was a post in the forum, which he so kindly allowed me to share. It makes for most interesting reading if you’re into birds! Check his view in the last sentence too, so true, so true Keith!
“Jack Finch, Bailey North Carolina would get up every morning about 4:30 AM and sit outside and enjoy coffee while listening to his bluebirds wake up. Bluebirds during the heat of summer are more vocal in the pre-dawn hours and each male will belt out territorial calls from their roost tree. By listening every morning, Jack could tell if something or more likely some predator had forced one of his pairs of bluebirds to shift their roosting locations. You can tell the “morning after” a brood of bluebirds has fledged, because that pair will NOT be calling from the nestbox location. They will be frantically calling and singing to locate all of their young that survived their first night out of the nestbox! This new location maybe several hundred yards from their nest! For the next week or so their normal “sunrise” songs will be controlled panic calls!
You can hear in the pre-dawn hours if you have a pair of bluebirds that are about to begin another nesting attempt. They will be singing and calling near their chosen new nest site. This is to warn other pairs away and or it might just be a new/single male bluebird trying to attract a female, since he is bragging about a new nestbox/new habitat that he is now holding. By sunrise any other nearby male bluebirds will fly to the edges of their territory and they will also fire up in song and there may be four or five different males singing their versions of “Dueling Banjo’s”.
You can locate them with the first light, as they will be in the tip tops of trees, right at the edge of their territory. They will be singing and wing waving, then warning chatter if another male or pair of bluebirds is too close. They will be bouncing up in the air about 10 feet, then sailing back down flashing their wings to show off their blue feathers. Colors are more intense just as the sun is clearing the horizon or about to slip down out of sight at sunset. On occasion there will actually be fighting, between birds, by July this morning ritual will seldom go beyond a short dash from the dominant male bluebird, chasing a challenger back a few trees. Maintaining “Pecking Order” in different species is fairly complex! It sometimes is even harder to adapt and or re-arrange pecking order in a group!
Think about when a Beauty Queen or Sports Jock moved into your small town from another state when you were growing up! Same goes for a new lead singer into a small church choir, or new management personnel at work or heaven forbid a political change! This is all “Pecking Order” issues that have to be worked through, in the birding world, the individual birds will settle this mostly by singing and bluffing. At some point in every yard this pecking order will change off and on all summer long.
In groups of humans you seldom see a change near the top of the pecking order that does not result in someone getting their feathers all ruffled up and by the time the dust clears, then the new pecking order has been achieved, that one or more at the top of the pecking order will have moved to another group. Normally there is no change in the middle and or bottom of the pecking order in a group or flock.
Many of the bird/animal species have evolved to move and feed in “flocks”, by doing this they can simply crowd out the other non-flocking species while they dominate a food source. Big flocks and or groups have to constantly be on the move though, as they will deplete the food, water and habitat. Some people say that the “flock” of Passenger Pigeons was around 6 Billion strong and that there were more than 40 Million Bison still roaming freely across North America in 1814. These were replaced at the top of the Pecking Order with domestic chickens and cattle by 1890.
Currently there are about 210 distinct “Flocks” of Humans living behind temporary lines and fences. We live in interesting times as the Pecking Order of human flocks are changing at all levels it appears at the same time. Shame we don’t adjust this pecking order by singing and bluffing! At the worst we should send out our leaders to settle disputes one on one, more like two Bantam Roosters would.”
With spring in bloom (in much of the country anyway) there’s an instinct among nature types to get outdoors and work in the garden! For many, wild birds go hand-in-hand with love of gardening. Like the “eyes bigger than stomach” syndrome at a restaurant, heading into nurseries can easily turn into more than one bargained for! We know this first hand, as flowers sit in the driveway waiting to be planted.
Luckily for perennials like these crocus, color emerges effortlessly year after year. It also signals the beginning of nesting season for resident birds, and the migratory start for our southern feathered friends.
On the birding side, it’s a perfect time to give feeders a good cleaning, check birdhouses for old nests and clean them out too. Avoid leaving old nests on the ground near birdhouses as this attracts predators. Lots of fancy cleaners on the market, but a solution of bleach and water (1:10 ratio) is ideal. Scrub, rinse well, air dry… pretty simple.
If you’re just getting into the birding thing (lots of folks are these days) – where to start? So many feeders and gadgets out there! Fresh water and a tube bird feeder are a great place to start! All birds are attracted to fresh water, be it a traditional birdbath, or simple pan of shallow water. Shallow’s the optimal word, 2-3-inches maximum is recommended. Something with texture too, as bird’s feet can get a better grip. Small rocks or pebbles in the bowl help with landing and perching.
So, what’s the best tube feeder? Like the bath, or anything else for that matter… it’s the one you will maintain! Feeders need to be filled fairly consistently, as well as cleaned. Wet, moldy seed serves no purpose at all, and birds will quit visiting a feeder with nasty contents. Plus it can spread disease among the local avian buddies in your yard.
Consider who you’d like to attract too. Thistle or nyjer seed is made for tube feeders, they have tiny ports for this tiny seed. Goldfinches, house and purple finches, siskins, buntings and redpolls enjoy thistle. Say you want a more “all-around” type feeder for chickadees, titmice, cardinals, nuthatches and some of the other usual suspects? You can’t beat a tube feeder with sunflower seed! It’s popular among many species and a great choice for a first or only feeder. Some offer generous seed trays that make it easy for cardinals to feed. Although there are some general thoughts as to who will eat where, this winter proved all bets were off! Cardinals seen eating at suet feeders, juncos at sunflower feeders, and some other strange sightings due to the extreme weather.
The other really nice thing is that you can buy this seed sans the shell. Sunflower hearts (or meats) is a waste-free food that leaves hardly any ground mess. Whatever should fall to the ground is usually gobbled up by ground feeding birds like doves, juncos or chipping sparrows. It costs a few dollars more, but we think it’s well worth it! Cheaper seed leaves more waste because of the fillers most birds peck out and discard… so where’s the value?
In choosing a new tube bird feeder, pick one with sturdy construction that you know will last. Although inexpensive, plastic isn’t always the best choice as squirrels can and likely will chew it to bits. Ceramic is chew-proof, as is copper, stainless steel, and many of the newer materials used to hand craft or manufacture quality bird feeders.
Your birds will thank you!
Several fellow birders have noticed an increase in activity at feeders recently. A few guesses were about the wet season and lush plant growth, possibly providing fewer seeds than usual for this time of year. One person writes: “Finches, Cardinals, Chickadees, Tufted Titmice, White-breasted Nuthatches, and more have increased their activity at my tube bird feeder significantly, even fighting each other. I was filling the feeder once a week, but the birds are emptying it daily.”
So what’s the reason behind the increased activity? Because many species are molting their feathers right now, they have an increased need for a steady diet of high quality food. Chickadees, titmice, nuthatches and others are kicking into high gear with hoarding seeds right now too. If you watch some of these birds closely, you’ll see them eating some of the seeds but they will be stashing many more of them under the bark of older trees, and or poking them into holes and cracks in trees and other locations.
Your location plays a role as well. “This is actually the time of the year when there is the highest number of plants that are producing seeds, mast and or fruit out in forests, fields and “weedy” pasture lands. City lawns and evergreen landscaping and ornamental landscape trees often do not produce any seed type food for wildlife at this time of the year. So it might depend on your particular location as to how much food is available for each of these different species.”
Seeing empty feeders just goes against our grain 🙁 If birds’ activity has increased at your feeder that it takes filling everyday… it may be a good time for a bigger one? Winter’s not too far off and these resilient resident birds are sure to hang around a dependable food source.
This new tube feeder’s a beauty too! At a whopping two feet tall, the large Castella features a venetian bronze finish over steel, with a seed tray for less waste and easy perching. And the killer turret… it adds a magical touch to any garden setting!
If you’re a little bird-crazy like us, keeping feeders filled is a priority that takes time – in fact it’s a daily chore lately due to some bully birds hanging around the yard. Only filling feeders about one quarter of capacity, because no matter what’s offered… it’s gone in a few hours! And we’re not even talking squirrels here… grackles, starlings and doves are the culprits. Isn’t it time for them to move on yet?
Because squirrels are enough menace in their own right, every single bird feeder has a baffle on it, even bluebird houses have baffles to protect nests from curious paws. But outwitting the critters really isn’t as difficult as some may think. Squirrel Proof Bird Feeders with cages like this are very effective against both squirrels and larger, less desirable birds. Some of the caged feeders are let’s say, kind of cheesy, but this large capacity model is super quality and made in the USA. With a big three gallon capacity, and built in seed tray to catch waste, this super squirrel-resistant feeder even has an innovative design that makes it simple to fill and clean. The PVC feeder tube will never yellow like some of the acrylic tubes, and stainless steel feeder ports retain their shiny new look.
Don’t get us wrong… we feed the squirrels too, but somehow that’s never enough either. May be time to look into one of these for our own yard? And although a bit overboard with our wildlife habitat, that’s not really us feeding this furry friend – although it is kinda cute!
It’s a busy time for American Goldfinches as they have one of the latest breeding/nesting cycles of most backyard birds. They’re also one of very few breeds who actually molt twice a year and grow new feathers. Their electric yellow plumage is hard to miss, and most thistle feeders are seeing a good bit of traffic right now (provided the seed hasn’t gone moldy from all the rain). If yours is sitting with no takers – best to dump old seed, clean the feeder and replace with fresh thistle seed.
Innovative by design with quality construction (no cheezy plastic parts here) these 36-inch tall, large capacity thistle feeders have a cool spiral instead of perches. Featuring more feeder ports, birds really do “run the spiral” hopping from one one port to the next. This opens up space for more birds to join the party, no more waiting around for an open perch to catch some chow!
Goldfinches feed babies thistle (or nyjer) exclusively. Gross as it sounds, parents chew and prepare the tiny black seed, regurgitating it into babies’ mouths. It’s not until juveniles are out in the world that they may start to discover and eat insects. There’s a kind and quiet demeanor about this favored songbird, you’ll rarely catch them squabble at feeders. Rather than fight for a spot, most will give up and maybe try again later. Hanging a few economical thistle socks helps to alleviate this problem during peak season.
In fall when they molt again, their vibrant yellow plumage will give way to new olive drab feathers for fall and winter. It may seem like your Goldfinches have gone on their way and migrated south, but they’re still around! Keep thistle feeders out year-round to accommodate these resident birds, (and fresh water in a bath) and next summer that lemon yellow color will once again grace your yard. So popular these birds are, there’s even a birdhouse modeled after one… although typically they do nest in hedges or trees.
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!
Recently some folks in Alexandria, LA developed an interest in backyard birding. Diving right in with a suet feeder, hopper style feeder for sunflower seed, a bird bath with mister (for summer) and two thistle feeders, the timing couldn’t have been better – for the birds and for them to witness the amazing flurry of activity this pre-spring season.
By her note above, we’re gathering they’ve got flocks of pine siskins and goldfinches in the yard right now, we sure do here in North GA.! For months thistle feeders sat, with seed going bad due to lack of activity. Then out of nowhere… tons of birds chowing down on thistle!
Also called Nyjer, thistle’s other nickname among many is “black gold” because it’s not a cheap seed to offer. A bit on the pricey side, it does have the benefit of being a non-germinating seed, one of very few seeds that won’t sprout weeds. But it’s about the only food adults will feed chicks in summer, so extra feeders (like thistle socks) and lots of seed greatly helps goldfinches thrive and flourish during their late breeding season (June and July).
Being new to the birding scene, Jan had the right idea in mind when she inquired about creating a welcoming and bird-friendly habitat in their yard. No single feeder, house, or birdbath will attract as many song birds as an overall habitat with natural food sources and shelter. And since we’re in the same planting zone, it was fairly easy to come up with a few suggestions too. Rather than re-word, and re-type the email, here’s our thoughts on creating an attractive and wildlife-friendly environment.
“OK, did some research and thinking of my own yard… here are some suggestions:
Overall: Mature trees and Shrubs are very good for attracting all winged friends as not only a food source, but shelter. Since this is an open area, I’m thinking your yard must have mature trees along the back/sides? Many birds nest in trees and shrubs as they’re not all considered “cavity-dwellers” (birdhouse users).
If you’d like some kind of height or focal point around the new area, Butterfly Bush, Viburnum, Mimosa, or a Crab Apple is a great choice. These are hearty, and provide both shelter and food (nectar or fruit). Any of the native berry-producing shrubs will also provide a great food source.
Using pots for annuals is always a great option too, for color, nectar and seeds in fall!
Petunias, Zinnias, and various salvias; most garden center plants now have tags depicting if the plants provide a food source, so just look around. There should be lots of options here! You can even save seeds in the fall for replanting in spring.
Cardinals, chickadees, finches and titmice will eat seeds of many plants. The trick is not to dead-head them in fall when the urge strikes! There are lots of perennials that fit the bill in this category: coneflower, coreopsis, seedum, black-eyed susan, goldenrod, sunflowers, mexican sunflower, native salvia-(very good), coral bells,. Again look around at the garden center, and if you’re lucky… you’ll find an employee with some knowledge on the subject!
As far as for ground cover: I think mulching the area and adding plants is a better option than a solid ground cover. You’ll want to be able to get to the feeders, bath, mister and “parts” of the landscape without stepping all over things. Also, spilled seed may sprout weeds, and it’s easier to control that if not covered solid with growth.
Day lilies are a good choice, the Stella de Oro’s are quite hearty and pretty! If you wanted something more low-growing that spreads, (full sun) try purple sheep’s burr, also called purple goose leaf. In fact this would be a beautiful contrast with yellow lilies! The Stella variety tends to stay more compact as opposed to some which grow taller and appear “lanky”. Never, ever plant creeping strawberry, or ivy…these are the bane of my existence in parts of my yard 🙁 They are also a wonderful habitat for snakes, especially if you’ll have the mister going when it’s warm!
Native salvia: I’ve got a bed of this which provides color from spring through fall. Vibrant red, there are always hummingbirds and butterflies hovering. It’s actually below one of the misters, and does well with the “extra water”. Extremely hearty, it multiplies each year, spreading roots, but does tend to grow taller, more of a back-drop. Lantana would also be a good choice if you’ve got the space for it to grow. I love perennials!
It may be helpful to actually sketch out the area on paper before planting. Drop in the plant names to get an idea. You can always do search for pics to get an idea too!
Okay… hope this helps, and as always, feel free to ping me back with questions”