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The Registry of Nature Habitats - Feeders
Components of a Nature
Not everyone will be blessed with all sixteen Habitat Components on their property. This does not mean that introducing as many as possible will not
enhance wildlife. The key is to understant each of the components, what they are, how they assist in nature and what wildlife will be assisted by their availability.
Feeders - These are used to provide
easy access to supplemental food for wildlife. Does wildlife
become dependant on them? No. Some however, may become
pests as we will discuss later. You should never at any time feed bears, coyotes,
bobcats or any other large mammal!á Wildlife
will use the feeders for a source of food but will continue to
forage for other seeds, insects and nectar. Feeders should be
used 12 months of the year. Cold long winters can be very hard
on wildlife. Sometimes the feeder is all that is between the
animal surviving till spring.
There is another school of thought on feeders. I
hear this said by some people who beleive that it is more important
to stop development than it is to feed wildlife. My belief is
that we are far beyond that. Humans are not going to stop
developing. Thinking on how we develop is more
important. Some of the most common things we do destroys
habitat. Feeding wildlife is only replacing the food source we
have removed through development.
Feeding wildlife can bevery
enjoyable andálots of fun. There are many types of feeders and
each will attract different birds and small mammals. You need to
find out what types of birds are native to your location and
purchase feeders to attract them. The bird seeds and food you put
out can also be specific to certain birds and willádetermine
which birds (and animals) will come to your feeders.
Some birds want to eat on the ground such as Doves and
Juncos, while others prefer eating while hanging upside down, like
Woodpeckers! The size of the holes in a feeder and the length
of the perches can keep away birds like Starlings while attracting
During theásummer, fruit is a favorite food.
Oranges or apple halves for thrashers, orioles and robins. Add a
plastic cup for grape jelly as a treat for catbirds.
Many birds go nuts for peanuts, pecans and walnuts.
There are feeders designed to dispense those treats while keeping
other critters at bay. Seed snacks combine nuts and suet dough,
molded into blocks or encased in ready-to-hang feeders. There are
bulk seed blocks, available in small sizes to fit into a
plastic-coated wire basket or large enough to set out on the
This is the active season as baby
birds are everywhere. You need to attend feeders more
often. Check Hummingbird feeders daily and clean often. Put out fruit for Mockingbirds, Orioles, Catbird and Tanagers. Remember that the Cat is the birds worst enemy. Keep them
inside, especially during the summer, as baby birds are virtually
defenseless against them.
Fall is an important time for
migratory birds. You may see birds visiting your yard that you
have not seen all year. They need to build up energy for the
long migratory trip they are on. Some birds fly all the way to
South America! Keep those feeders out and full of
Birds have survived way before
humans starting feeding them. But the presence of feeders with
fresh food definitely is a benefit and will help them through the
long hard winter. A heated bird bath is also a welcomed site
to the birds. They will bath year round, even in the
Tips for healthy
Shake out feeders before
re-filling and remove any old, wet and/or moldy
Keep seed hulls cleaned up and remove hulls from
Disinfect feeders a few times a year with 1/4 cup
bleach and 2 gallons of water. Let dry before re-filling
Always keep seed in a cool dry location.
Hulled sunflower seeds are best used in tube and
If Racoons, Opossums, Deer and othe critters are a
problem, take down feeders at night or put only enough feed in the
feeders that the birds finish it by nightfall.
Suet is a high energy food that can be used year
round. One note of caution. Use only rendered suet in
warm temperatures otherwise it will become rancid.
Feed year round to attract more species of birds.
Use different feeders and different feeds.
Change bath water daily to prevent algea growth.
Add a mister to the bath.
Wild Birds eat more
than bird seed! A LOT more!
Most birds do not eat seeds. The reason these birds
will not come to your feeder is that they prefer eating live insects
or fish or something else. Birds that eat seeds tend to have heavy,
thick bills for cracking seed kernels. Cardinals and Finches are
good examples of seed-eating birds.
To attract the other birds, try hanging a suet cake by
your bedroom window for the woodpeckers and nuthatches. Put out
orange halves for the Orioles. Spread peanut butter on a pine cone
and hang it outside your school window. Plant a cherry tree in your
side yard. Build a pond and stock it with fish.
Be creative and see what you can attract. Try popped
popcorn, peanut hearts, soaked raisins, pieces of fruit like grapes
or oranges or apples, fruit seeds (melons, apples), grape jelly
(another oriole favorite), cooked potatoes, leftover oatmeal or
ready-to-eat cereal. Some birder watchers even go so far as to put
out a tray of live mealworms for the Bluebirds!
Accipiters like Cooper's Hawks and Sharp-shinned Hawks
eat other birds. If one swoops down on your bird feeder and carries
off someone for lunch, don't worry about it. That is the way Mother
Nature works. The fittest birds will usually survive. If this
bothers you, take down your feeders for a few days. The Hawk will
move to another location.
fascinating to watch as they dart around the feeders. Males become
very aggressive and try to drive away other hummingbirds.
You might want to consider having more
than one feeder in your yard to provide food for many "hummers" at
the same time.
Feed hummingbirds a mixture of 1 part
sugar and 4 parts water. Boil the water and then mix in the sugar.
Let cool. You can store this mixture up to two weeks in your
refrigerator. Change the liquid in your feeders every three days.
Keep the feeders and tubes clean. Do not add red coloring to the
Hummingbirds are attracted to red, so tie
a red ribbon on the feeder or buy a feeder that is red. Bees are
attracted to yellow, so do not buy a feeder with yellow plastic on
Feeders that are flat, enclosed saucers
(birds sit on the perches) seem to be easier to keep clean than
feeders with tubes (bird hovers while feeding).
You can plant flowers in your yard that
attract hummingbirds. Red, tube shaped flowers are best. Try Trumpet
Vine (Campsis), Cardinal Flower (Lobelia) or
Honeysuckle (Loniceria). Check some of the web sites listed
at the left side of this page for more ideas.
You would not believe how many books
there are about planting gardens to attract hummingbirds and
Commercial bird seed comes in a
variety of mixtures. Cheaper mixtures will contain large
amounts of buckwheat, rice, oats, milo, flax, rape seed, cracked
corn and canary seed.
What the birds really want to eat is
black oil sunflower seeds. To avoid the mess of sunflower hulls, may
people decide to spend a bit more and buy the hulled sunflower seeds
containing only the "hearts" or "chips" of the sunflower.
If you buy a mixture of seeds, you may
find that birds scatter most of the seeds on the ground, trying to
get at the sunflower seeds. It is better to place these mixtures on
a flat platform feeder, rather than in a hopper type feeder. There
will be less waste and fewer seeds will wind up on the ground. Seeds
on the ground will attract doves and some birds, but they will also
attract mice, raccoons and other critters you may not want at your
Niger seed is a favorite food of
Goldfinches. It resembles small grains of wild rice and has a high
fat and protein content. Niger is also known as thistle. Many people
think they will be growing thistle weeds in their yard if they offer
this seed. In fact, niger is not a thistle at all. It's the seed of
the niger plant native to Ethiopia. Niger seed sold as birdseed is
heated to prevent it from germinating. Tube type feeders with small
openings are used as Niger or "Thistle" feeders.
The type of bird feeder you use will
determine which birds come to your yard to eat. Do you want
hummingbirds, woodpeckers, orioles, chickadees, cardinals,
goldfinches or doves?
Maybe your answer is "All of the above".
In this case you will need a number of different feeder
Hummingbird feeders hold
liquid and have very narrow openings.
Platform feeders are
simply flat tables raised off the ground. Cardinals like these.
Doves will eat from them too if they are not very far off the
Tube feeders are
cylindrical tubes with openings up and down the tube -- perfect for
Chickadees and Goldfinches. Shorten the perches to keep larger birds
Hopper feeders are bins
that hold seeds that spill out of the bottom as the birds eat. Many
birds will come to these -- including larger birds like Blue Jays,
Grackles and Starlings.
Suet feeders are wire or
mesh baskets that hold suet or pre-packaged suet cakes. Woodpeckers
Bowl feeders are hanging
bowls that typically are covered by a large plastic dome to keep out
the rain and snow.
include pine cones (great for lathering with peanut butter), and sharpened sticks to hold orange halves for Orioles. You can also
sprinkle seeds directly on the ground -- but this attracts other
critters as well.
Keep your feeders
It is extremely important that you clean your
feeders at least once every two weeks. Use a mixture of 2 gallons of
water and 1/4 cup of bleach. Let the feeders air-dry before
rehanging them. When you refill feeders, shake out damp seeds that
may become moldy. Remove hulls from the feeder.