Oct 18, 2011

Setting the Right Table for Your Feathered Friends

Setting the Right Table is Important in Bringing in a Wide Variety of Interesting Birds

As Cool Ponds becomes more and more a habitat resource and not just a pond store, we're hearing more often..."The only birds I attract are sparrows. How can I get a better variety of birds?" If this is you, don't get discouraged. Unfortunately, using the wrong type of feeder and the wrong food can disillusion potential birds and frustrate us leading us to give up. Don't worry, we can help.

It's important to "set the table" so to speak to fit the appropriate guest. Some species such as native sparrows (these are good sparrows -- not the non-native house sparrows) and juncos prefer to feed on the ground.Chickadees and Finches prefer to eat from an elevated feeder. Nuthatches and woodpeckers, or "clingers." are used to clinging to a tree trunk for food and prefer to eat in that manner. Birds such as doves, cardinals, and blue jays will eat from a feeder, the ground, or a tree wherever a safe opportunity arises. By selecting feeders that appeal to certain birds, we can choose which birds we invite.

There are a set of basic feeders that every bird enthusiast should have to attract the widest variety of birds to their backyard. Here are four feeders you should have to attract a good variety of birds:

Platform Feeder
  • Attracts the most birds, including "clingers" (nuthatches, creepers, woodpeckers, chickadees) and large birds
  • Can be paired with a weather shield or baffle to keep food dry and squirrels out.

Hopper Feeder
  • Attracts all sizes of birds
  • Ledge should be large enough for a cardinal
  • Holds large quantities of food

Nyjer Tube Feeder
  • Attracts birds in the finch family
  • Small openings exclude sparrows
  • To feed only goldfinch and exclude other finch, use an upside down nyjer feeder (shown)

Suet Feeder
  • Attracts "clingers" 
  • Other birds eat suet such as Northern Mocking birds and Carolina Wrens
  • Contrary to popular belief, birds need suet all year -- no melt suet can be used in summer

These are the feeders we feel will provide a good all-around variety of feeding styles and will hold the food needed to attract a wide variety of birds. Many people new to bird feeding select a tube feeder as their first (only) feeder. Although tube feeders have their place, they exclude many, many desirable birds while allowing the undesirables. Choose a tube feeder as a supplement, not your primary feeder. If you could only choose one -- I would without hesitation choose a platform feeder. All the great discoveries I've made in my backyard have been on a platform feeder or on the ground!

Also, remember your bird feeder is an investment. You want it to last, be a great source of entertainment and be easy to clean as well. We hope you'll check out the feeders above at Cool Ponds.

The type of food you offer is just as important. Read this post about what food to offer.

Written by Cool Ponds
co-owner Staci

1 comment:

Steve said...

The tray feeder filled with Coles Nutberry Suet is my favorite set up. If I were stuck on a deserted island with only one feeder and food to take with me it would be that above combination. It is made in the USA from recycled materials and attracts my favorite birds, Red Bellied Woodpecker, Carolina Wren and the Northern Mockingbird.


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