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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Thomasville, NC

    Feeding the birds in winter.

    I am sure many of you feed the birds in winter, as they need the extra energy the food gives them. Here are a few tips on what to feed them.
    First, black oil sunflower seed (the small black sunflower seed). Most birds love it, from finches and cardinals to blue jays, woodpeckers, titmice and chickadees.
    Second, nyger, aka thistle seed, is a favorite of goldfinches and pine siskins. The various blends of seeds are not really that good, as most of the contents are millet and milo, and wind up on the ground, as the birds kick it out to get to the few sunflower seeds contained therein. I do keep some around to toss on the ground for doves, sparrows and juncos, as they will eat it.
    Cardinals also like safflower seed, but I rarely use it because they are the only birds that eat it, and they like sunflower seed better.
    Suet is a high energy food that many birds relish, so always keep a cake or two around.
    Be sure not to place feeders near ground cover, as predators like house cats will use this cover to get close enough to snatch a bird.

  2. #2
    I use the National Audubon Society Supreme blend available at my local Costco.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Vermont
    Quote Originally Posted by Devilwin View Post
    I am sure many of you feed the birds in winter, as they need the extra energy the food gives them. Here are a few tips on what to feed them.
    First, black oil sunflower seed (the small black sunflower seed). Most birds love it, from finches and cardinals to blue jays, woodpeckers, titmice and chickadees.
    Second, nyger, aka thistle seed, is a favorite of goldfinches and pine siskins. The various blends of seeds are not really that good, as most of the contents are millet and milo, and wind up on the ground, as the birds kick it out to get to the few sunflower seeds contained therein. I do keep some around to toss on the ground for doves, sparrows and juncos, as they will eat it.
    Cardinals also like safflower seed, but I rarely use it because they are the only birds that eat it, and they like sunflower seed better.
    Suet is a high energy food that many birds relish, so always keep a cake or two around.
    Be sure not to place feeders near ground cover, as predators like house cats will use this cover to get close enough to snatch a bird.
    nice post. Gotta have a world class squirrel guard, too, unless you want to lose a lot of seed...mine (replaced a few times) is undefeated in 28 years of use, Hall of Fame level.
    I'd also note that spreading some seed on a flat surface attracts some birds that wouldn't ordinarily come to a feeder, though Mr. Squirrel does crash that party. I put some on the deck railing (10 feet off the ground).
    Agree on the millet, too, the birds just toss that crap on the ground...woodpeckers love the suet, which we put in little suet cages nailed to trees.

    We had a historic January thaw two days ago, temp hit all time record 61, then we got a layer of ice, then 6 inches of snow, so a lot of what the birds were eating out and about got covered up...the result being massive activity at the bird feeder yesterday, birds lined up like planes at O'Hare...wonderful viewing while reading a book or watching a hoop game. Still can't explain why we have had one solitary junco for two weeks, those guys usually travel in packs like Kentucky fans.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Chesapeake, VA.
    And if you want bluejays, make sure to get the "no mess" feed blends, with shelled seeds, because bluejays won't remove shells.
    "We are not provided with wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness which no one else can take for us, an effort which no one can spare us, for our wisdom is the point of view from which we come at last to regard the world." --M. Proust

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by budwom View Post
    nice post. Gotta have a world class squirrel guard, too, unless you want to lose a lot of seed...mine (replaced a few times) is undefeated in 28 years of use, Hall of Fame level.
    I'd also note that spreading some seed on a flat surface attracts some birds that wouldn't ordinarily come to a feeder, though Mr. Squirrel does crash that party. I put some on the deck railing (10 feet off the ground).
    Agree on the millet, too, the birds just toss that crap on the ground...woodpeckers love the suet, which we put in little suet cages nailed to trees.

    We had a historic January thaw two days ago, temp hit all time record 61, then we got a layer of ice, then 6 inches of snow, so a lot of what the birds were eating out and about got covered up...the result being massive activity at the bird feeder yesterday, birds lined up like planes at O'Hare...wonderful viewing while reading a book or watching a hoop game. Still can't explain why we have had one solitary junco for two weeks, those guys usually travel in packs like Kentucky fans.
    You have to share what feeder you are using.

    My favorite was the yankee spinner until the squirrels finally broke the motor. Most squirrels gave up quickly. We had a few hang on for multiple rotations.

    What we have now is something with weighted “trap door” pegs on the feeder. Works well until the squirrels snap off the pegs.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by fuse View Post
    You have to share what feeder you are using.

    My favorite was the yankee spinner until the squirrels finally broke the motor. Most squirrels gave up quickly. We had a few hang on for multiple rotations.

    What we have now is something with weighted “trap door” pegs on the feeder. Works well until the squirrels snap off the pegs.
    I'm a pro at feeding birds during the summer. They love our tomatoes and blueberries. Maybe I should get a yard cat?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Durham, NC
    I took a piece of cardboard, 10-12 inches squared. Cut a hole in the center and threaded it onto the hanging cord so it sits right on top of the feeder. The feeder is hung above my bay window about a foot or so from the side of the house. If a squirrel tries to drop down on to the cardboard (from the roof, where they were accessing it in years past), there is no traction and nothing to hold onto, so it falls off. I haven't actually witnessed a splat, but there are definitely no squirrels eating the seed like before. They get plenty of droppings from the birds that throw everything out of the feeder to get to what they want. Besides, I hate squirrels.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Vermont
    Quote Originally Posted by fuse View Post
    You have to share what feeder you are using.

    My favorite was the yankee spinner until the squirrels finally broke the motor. Most squirrels gave up quickly. We had a few hang on for multiple rotations.

    What we have now is something with weighted “trap door” pegs on the feeder. Works well until the squirrels snap off the pegs.
    I've been using the same configuration for 28 years, but have had to redo it a few times when the bears awoke early and tore it to shreds.
    The original manufacturer was K Feeders, but they got bought by PerkyPet.com...go to Perky Pet, and my feeder is the "Copper Finish Triple Tube Bird Feeder, $55.99. Be advised
    the "copper finish" is almost all plastic, but the feeder is very good.

    I buy their "universal pole" (7 ft tall, in sections, $16) and even buy two of these poles so you have extra section to make it very tall, so squirrels can't jump onto the feeder (I've got a lot of extra pole due to the bear attacks)...I position it at the corner of my deck, which supports the bottom 3 feet of pole or so...then about 4 feet further up the pole I have my squirrel baffle, which is a (from the squirrel's perspective) a concave dome, very similar to the dome which is on top the feeder...at quick glance I don't see this sold by Perky Pet now, but i'll look for one...squirrels will run up the pole, but they can't get around the baffle, the concave thing befuddles them, has never been defeated, they run up and down the pole a few times and then give up (I'm not a fan of "squirrel proof" feeders because most can eventually be defeated from what I've seen).
    Above the baffle is another foot or two of pole (the baffle just slides up the pole), then the feeder itself, dome on top, feed tray below.
    PM me if you want more detail...

    p.s. Lowes seems to sell a generic squirrel baffle which fits various pole diameters, there are some other ones I found, too...just position it beneath the feeder and you're good to go...

  9. #9
    Five bluebirds on the feeder this morning. Dried Mealworms mixed into the sunflower seed.

    Happy to have them back.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Vermont
    Quote Originally Posted by fidel View Post
    Five bluebirds on the feeder this morning. Dried Mealworms mixed into the sunflower seed.

    Happy to have them back.
    Ha, not for us! Around here they seem to have the wisdom to go South.
    This made me think of a sign of spring around here, I monitor the Hummingbird Migration Map, nice little online place where people can report
    their first local sightings in the Spring, all data points for Ruby Throated Hbirds....they generally make it here by Mother's Day where several juicy Perky Pet feeders await them.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Raleigh
    We gave up several years ago, tiring of several different devices to keep the squirrel vermin away from the bird feeders. Even considered hiring a hunter to sit on our deck with a weapon (any weapon) to deter them. It's still amusing to watch our back yard neighbor with his 2 smooth metal (? no traction) "towers" in his back yard and seeing the critters still getting to the bird feeders by seemingly jumping out of trees (No ladders. Yet .) and hoping to land in the right spot. Insane.

    And, I couldn't help but think of this:



    Sorry .
    [redacted] them and the horses they rode in on.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by PackMan97 View Post
    I'm a pro at feeding birds during the summer. They love our tomatoes and blueberries. Maybe I should get a yard cat?
    Cats can be devestating to local populations, better to properly screen/protect your produce.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Thomasville, NC
    Eastern bluebirds are year round residents over much of their range, migration occurs from southern New York, westward across to Ohio, Michigan and north of that line. Here in NC and other southern states they don't migrate. This year is what is known as a big northern finch irruptive winter. In bad winters, flocks of evening grosbeaks, and more than normal numbers of purple finches and pine siskins migrate further south. I have seen all three the last few days, so watch the weather...lol

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Location
    Las Vegas, Nevada (Ohio born and raised)
    Quote Originally Posted by YmoBeThere View Post
    Cats can be devestating to local populations, better to properly screen/protect your produce.
    Someone needs to breed a specific cat that only kills pigeons. That would solve a lot of my issues in Vegas.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Thomasville, NC
    There are pepper seeds available that you mix with the bird seeds that are hot to squirrels but will not harm birds, they disseminate them naturally with no ill effects, but squirrels will not be able to tolerate it, and will avoid your feeders.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by YmoBeThere View Post
    Cats can be devestating to local populations, better to properly screen/protect your produce.
    I was joking. Don't worry, my wife would divorce me before we ever owned a cat, even an outside cat.

  17. #17
    Why have I been under the impression that thistle seed is prohibited in Virginia due to the invasive species aspect? Does that sound possible?
    Nothing incites bodily violence quicker than a Duke fan turning in your direction and saying 'scoreboard.'

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Location
    Thomasville, NC
    Quote Originally Posted by weezie View Post
    Why have I been under the impression that thistle seed is prohibited in Virginia due to the invasive species aspect? Does that sound possible?
    The seed of the African daisy is what is marketed here as nyger seed. Some call it thistle, but it is not related to that plant. Nyger seed is subjected to intense heat to sterilize the seed, so they will not germinate, thereby bypassing the invasive plant species laws. It can be sold anywhere.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Vermont
    Quote Originally Posted by Devilwin View Post
    The seed of the African daisy is what is marketed here as nyger seed. Some call it thistle, but it is not related to that plant. Nyger seed is subjected to intense heat to sterilize the seed, so they will not germinate, thereby bypassing the invasive plant species laws. It can be sold anywhere.
    that's interesting, I did not know that...I DO know that under my birdfeeder on my so-called "lawn," all kinds of things sprout up, most recently a few nice big sunflower plants per summer..

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by budwom View Post
    that's interesting, I did not know that...I DO know that under my birdfeeder on my so-called "lawn," all kinds of things sprout up, most recently a few nice big sunflower plants per summer..
    And the stupid squirrels/chipmunks bury the seeds to save for winter. I pull them when they sprout and wish I could see said stupid squirrels/chipmunks when they come back for them.

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