It’s for the Birds

    My wife always says that having lots of birds around means that nature is doing well in your area. If this is true then nature’s doin’ great at our house. We have several bird feeders scattered around our house and some birdhouses hung up too. My wife fills the feeders almost every day and the birds can go through a lot of seed. If you are interested in attracting some birds of your own, here are some of the basics.

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   The easiest thing to start with are seed feeders. These are available in many shapes and sizes, different type specialize in attracting different birds. Decide what kind of birds you want to see and then buy accordingly. Hang them in a convenient tree that you can see well and fill them with seeds, the birds will do the rest. If you don’t have any trees in a convenient location, metal “Shepard’s crooks” can be obtained to stick in the ground to provide a hanging spot. Buy your seed as you need it, but make sure you keep it in a rodent-proof container. We use a galvanized metal trash can in our garage. If you don’t, the mice and chipmunks will help themselves and soon you’ll be out of seed. Seed is available in any size bag and in every price range. Experiment to see which type your birds like the most and what fits into your budget.

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   Another way to feed the birds is with suet. Suet is animal fat that comes molded into small blocks with seed or other goodies added to it. Some birds such as woodpeckers seem to prefer suet and will come to it more often. A special suet feeder is needed, but it is only a simple wire cage sized to hold the blocks. You can also make your own suet from your left over kitchen grease, mixed with seed and poured into small plastic tubs. We usually put suet out only in colder weather, as that is when the birds need the extra calories. Homemade suet can also melt in hot weather so it works better when it is cold out. Premium store-bought suet is usually made of a higher melting point type fat, and can still be used in the Summer months.

      Attracting nectar eating birds such as hummingbirds and orioles is the realm of sugar water feeders. These feeders have some kind of bottle to hold a sugary mix, which these birds will go crazy for. Just-add-water sugar pouches are available at the store, or homemade recipes are available on the internet to make up the syrup. Sugar water can also attract ants, bees and yellow jackets, so make sure that your feeder has features to discourage them, and hang it in a place where they won’t be a bother.

   A birdbath or other water feature will also attract birds, especially in dry weather. We have one, and the birds are there often even though we also have a creek available. Just keep it full of clean water, and the birds will find it. Ours is a fancy electrically heated one that can also be used in the Winter. The birds really appreciate a source of open water in the cold months.

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   Birdhouses can also attract birds without having to provide food for them. Good nesting places are always at a premium and it’s fun watching the birds lay their eggs and raise a family. Some birds, such as purple martins also specialize in eating mosquitoes and many people try to get them to nest near their homes. Special multiple box purple martin houses are made, as they like to nest in colonies. It’s more trouble, but if they can take care of your mosquitoes, it’s worth it. If you want to give birds a try, we’ve got your feeders, seed, houses and such all in stock, at the Old Hardware Store.