What Kind of Birdfeeder?

I’ve read the entire thread. Like I said : excuse me.

I have tired several types of the tube-style feeders for Nyjer (sometimes called Thistle) seed, which is supposed to attract finches, but I have not found that to be especially true, and if the seed gets wet, it is very difficult to clean out.

For regular feeders my favorite seeds are Safflower seed and Sunflower “hearts” (the hull is removed, so less mess) I find the Goldfinches and House finches are quite happy with either. They are also enjoyed by Cardinals, Nuthatches, Titmice, Chickadees, Wrens, Bluebirds and some Sparrows. They are expensive, but you don’t get a lot of waste, as you do with some of the cheaper seed mixes, which seem to be full of stuff that nobody really likes. Every seed gets consumed, and ground-feeders such as Juncos, Mourning doves and some Sparrows will get what’s tossed out by other birds. I swear, some of them take great pleasure in flinging it about. But even the supposedly hull-less seeds will require some sweeping up.

Suet feeders attract Nuthatches, all kinds of Woodpeckers, and Wrens, but they will also attract Bluejays and Crows (and squirrels).

Hummingbirds seem to find feeders very quickly, and who doesn’t love a hummer?

2 Likes

I’ve been thinking about this window problem. In the absence of ideas posted here–I don’t feel like looking up other threads in hopes of finding an identical situation–I think I’ll stick decals or something to the outside of the window to break up the reflections.

I’ve read about sticking decals to the inside but that still allows for reflections. I have those big drapes inside but reflections persist so I’m sure decals inside would not make much difference.

You can try it out and see if it causes issues. I have a feeder close to two windows in the basement and hear the occasional “thump” of a bird launching itself in the wrong direction. But it happens very infrequently and usually when the young ones are around and exploring the feeders for the first time. In contrast to the large windows without feeder on the other side of the house, I’ve never found any injured or dead birds in the vicinity of the windows with the feeder in front. They seem to live and learn.

The hummingbirds don’t seem to hit the window by accident, but occasionally they come knocking to let me know their feeder is empty. They seem to manage to find the room where I’m in and knock on the window there. It’s usually the male and he may come all the way around to the other side of the house to do this, so it’s not necessarily the window with the feeder. Maybe their eye sight is somewhat more attuned to looking through glass and dang they’re smart for such a small bird brain. (Or maybe he’s just fighting his own reflection and not so smart after all.)

4 Likes

Thanks so much for this answer. With all this great advice from so many people, I’ll see what I can set up for my birdies, what’s available at the store, how I want to actually use my space. Last summer I had the patio floor space full of plants.

Sounds like you’ve got some really smart hummers around your place. Have they got a keen sense of smell like some other animals? I know they can somehow find nectar, which is not very visible. I think he knows where you are, regardless of his tiny physical brain.

I’m not that smart about this kind of thing but I’ve heard that computer chips are really tiny and they contain oodles of info. Surely that hummingbird’s brain is not much smaller than a computer chip? I just love knowing that humans and birds can communicate like this.

2 Likes

Here’s the finch feeder I put up last night and the landlord is happy with it. The tube is made of metal screen that the birds have to pick the seed through. Niger seed and black oil sunflower hearts is what I put in it. No visitors yet.

3 Likes

I’ve just read these posts on your thread. I’m glad that you’ve found a feeder that works for your patio. I have the exact same feeder! I love it. I also have put nyjer and sunflower hearts/chips in mine, and the birds love it. I have had American Goldfinch, House Finch, House Sparrow, Black-capped Chickadee, Mourning Dove, and even Red-breasted Nuthatch visit it. Good luck!

2 Likes

Their close association to human development may lessen their overall environmental impact, but if it can be avoided, it is better not to encourage house sparrows. The better they do, the worse it is for native species in the area. Higher populations lead to more competition for arthropods needed for juveniles. I have seen more adept native birds have insects they were to feed their young with stolen from their mouths by house sparrows following them, trying to feed their own young. They are anticompetitive and will pierce eggs in nearby nests, and attack and even kill birds in them. If the nest is in a cavity, they can even trap and kill adults of even larger birds, like bluebirds. They attack in cavities that they would use, ones they wouldn’t, and also open nests. I have seen their effect first hand many times in missing feathers, injuries, pieced eggs, and dead juveniles.
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/152373933
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/68453779
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/68464992
https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/83739809

3 Likes

Thank you. That helps me understand the damage you are talking about that they do. I noted immediately that they are on the list of birds who are liable to frequent this type of feeder. I don’t approve of that and I wonder if you can tell me a way to discourage them while welcoming the natives. But please read on…The Sparrows don’t live here.

An interesting observation over the two years since I’ve been watching the birds: The House Sparrows live in the trees on the other side of Cedar St. and the European Starlings live back here at the back of the property where my apartment is. If you look at the rough diagram I made of my birding area, if I walk around Block A, I see and hear very few sparrows, mostly only by the houses in Block B. But if I walk around Block B, the sparrows abound. Likewise, if I continue on down Cedar St. for several more blocks.

The Starlings absolutely love the Silver Maple and Black Walnut. A few also use the Oak.

I have seen the odd Sparrow in the Black Walnut and Silver Maple but they are very few and very far apart. I see all kinds of other birds from House finches and Blue jays and Robins to hawks and the Merlin in the Silver Maple. But seldom House Sparrows. I’ve been watching for about two years. Have you also noticed that Starlings and House Sparrows don’t mix? Or is that just the birds in this neigbourhood?

So it’s the Starlings that walk around on the grass in front of my apartment. I don’t think they will bother with my feeder and I’m hoping their presence will discourage the Sparrows. What do you think, @joedziewa?

1 Like

How long will it take for the birds to find it?

Another question: Will the seed get wet? The ad showed someone spraying water onto the roof and the roof protected the seed, but at my place we sometimes get horizontal wind and rain storms. On really bad days, the floor of my patio gets wet all the way to the back wall. I’m just not sure about the feeder so close to the ceiling, if it might perhaps be protected. I’ve been looking at squirrel baffle to protect from rain. What do you think, given this location?

1 Like

Here, a lot of starlings live in holes in silver maples that were excavated by flickers. Many also live in vents and holes and gaps in construction holes from disrepair. I think house sparrow here mostly live in gaps and holes in homes and under awnings, but I see them nest in tree cavities too. One was in an old squirrel drey.

Now that you mention it, I usually see house sparrows and starlings separately, but I don’t know about the interactions between them. When they’re here, the only observing of them I’m interested in is observing them leave. I suspect the starlings are intimidating to the house sparrows, but they are both bold enough to pursue an opportunity for food when intimidating birds aren’t present or when they are at a safe distance. They will probably see other birds at the feeder and will want to investigate. House sparrows like to to avoid shiny metallic films like foil or silvery mylar used with balloons and have a difficult time navigating obstacles when landing or taking off. Metallic mylar ribbons near and a halo with stiff wire hanging around did pretty well with keeping them away for me. Unlike the ones that require the birds to hang upside down or cling to almost nothing, those steps don’t seem to add time to attracting target species. The yellow and shape of the feeder might help, it is used in other feeders and will probably be familiar as a possible food source.

There’s products that you can buy and also instructions for building your own house sparrow halo online. The bird that has never had food from a particular source is the easiest to deter from it.

3 Likes

From my experience, it takes anywhere from a few days to a few weeks for birds to find the feeder. It all depends on the location, as well as the number/activity of birds around your patio. Chickadees, House Sparrows, House Finches, Goldfinches, and European Starlings are usually the first birds to find the feeder.

To be specific, with your feeder/food (I have the same one), it took me about 2 weeks to have my first visitor, a Goldfinch. If there is shelter and a water source nearby, this will help them feel safe, and it will encourage them to come more quickly.

3 Likes

I’ll keep it in mind in case I need it. Is this true, taken from an ad for Magic Halo:

Sparrows do not like anything above them, so with this halo hanging above the feeder they will stay away

I don’t see any wires on it in the picture.

This one looks like the real thing though the video is unavailable.

I also found a blog post on how one person experimented with making them. It seems to be a lot of work with tools I might not have. My DIY Anti House Sparrow Halo - Birdseed & Binoculars (birdseedandbinoculars.com) That’s why I looked for the commercially available product. Can’t really find it locally. I’m in Kitchener.

1 Like

Thank you! I’ll put out some water. There’s a crab plum tree very close by, maybe four to six feet from the nearest branch to the feeder.

3 Likes

Oops - just noticed your question now about the seed getting wet with this feeder.

I have found that with this feeder, the only time that the seed will get soaked and will need to be replaced is after a heavy rain/wind storm. Without any rain or wind, the seed should still be replaced about every month if it is not being eaten.

2 Likes

It might be true, but I don’t know specifically of a halo above deterring on its own, but reflective material above flitting about in the wind was something they didn’t like. Other than that, what was working best for me was preventing an easy flight to and from, making it difficult to stay, and providing food that was less desirable to them. Nijer, the need to cling to feed, and their minimal presence at the moment is a great start!

As far as a halo-type setup, I used bare copper electrical wire that I had from scraps. A ring around the top, a couple inches out with four loops twisted into it, from it four wires with looped end to prevent points. I think 14 gauge can work for the whole, even without any tools, though pliers and wire cutters(or old scissors or old nail clippers) would help. Maybe thicker, 12-gauge for a ring above might be better and thinner might be better to hang to make it more difficult to grasp, should one who is more acrobatic comes along. Others use nylon line and weights to hang down. The idea is that it’s not an easy flight in and that once there, they’re surrounded by variables that other birds can handle better.

very roughly:
image

5 Likes

Tonight about 5:30 I noticed my first visitor at the feeder, a male goldfinch. It’s fifteen days since I put it up, exactly two weeks, like @sawyer_n_a_dawson had suggested.

I was sitting inside the open window working on my computer when I heard a bit of a fuss so I looked and I saw! My cat was also looking. So I know they’re not afraid of cats inside the window.

5 Likes

Wonderful! Hope it continues to be a success.

1 Like

So happy for you! I know the feeling, too…when it gets to be weeks before a bird shows up, I worry that I did something wrong; but no! - it all pays off in the end.
I have a cat, too, and she also makes little chattering noises whenever a bird visits the feeder. The birds seem to know that there is a barrier between one of their #1 predators and themselves.

3 Likes

A much bigger problem for the birds was me and my camera. I put chicken netting over the screen to protect it from cat-claws. Not good for photography. This leave very small holes to take pictures through.

The first few days I just peeked around the drapes but then I pulled back the drapes. The birds didn’t mind…until they saw me moving around inside–AND FOCUS THE CAMERA ON THEM!

I feared I’d scared them away but I reminded myself of what @joedziewa said about his birds being scared off for a few days when he fiddled too much with the sparrow-off apparatus. The birds came back for him. Looks like they’re coming back for me too. Today a female Goldfinch was at the feeder.

5 Likes