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Archive for February, 2014

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Red Bellied Woodpecker – At my feeder this week.

Wild birds are so beautiful and entertaining.  Bird watching is purported to be the most popular pastime in the United States.  Are you disappointed you are not attracting them to your feeders?  It isn’t because they are not looking for a handout.  If you want them, you must know them.  They will come.

Feeding:  Don’t assume you can buy any wild bird seed and they will be thrilled to stop by.  They won’t.  Quality and the right blend is vital.  You are wasting your money if you buy a general seed mix available at grocery and big box stores.  Most of this mix is stuff no self-respecting songbird will eat. Offering this will not attract many birds and will leave you with a mess of tall, strange-looking weeds under your feeders in the spring.

You have options.  If you don’t want to over-exert yourself, you can feed one thing and one thing only:  Black oil sunflower seed.  If you want to appeal to the widest array of birds, create your own mix.  I keep a small galvanized garbage can for seed.  I buy the following items individually, dump into the can and use my hands to mix it up thoroughly.

  • Black Oil Sunflower Seed (do not buy striped sunflower…there is a big difference)
  • Fine Cracked Corn
  • Bagged Mix Designated for Woodpeckers (nuts, fruit and seed)

Now, good restaurants have menu options, and that is what you need to draw even more birds.

My second must-have is a suet feeder.  Good suet will attract every variety of woodpecker, nuthatches, brown creepers, Carolina wrens, and others.  You can use ready-made suet cakes that fit nicely into a small suet feeder, but they are a last resort for me.  I find them messy and overly soft unless it is freezing outside, and most important, the birds don’t seem to prefer them.  What they do love is plain, raw suet with no additives.  This is not something you can buy just anywhere.  Try your local specialty meat market/butcher shop and order it.  It is well worth it.  Ask for a slab of kidney suet (or two slabs – it freezes well).  It is simply a large slab of white fat from some unfortunate cow.  It takes some effort, but cut it up in pieces about 4×4 or 5×5 which will fit into your feeder.  Freeze in Ziploc bags.  Regarding your suet feeder, don’t hang it anywhere it can swing about wildly!  Would you like to eat on a trapeze?  Attach is to a tree so it hangs flat against the bark.

Then there is thistle.  Thistle appeals to those smaller, beautiful birds like goldfinches.  You need a special type of feeder for thistle…tubular with small openings.  Goldfinches love the thistle feeder.  House finches and snowbirds (juncos) will also stop by.  If you see small, olive-colored birds at your feeder in winter, these are goldfinches.  The males are only bright yellow in summer.  If you feed late into spring, or year round, you will be bombarded with gorgeous yellow birds.  Place this feeder close to your window.  Note regarding thistle seed:  Again, quality matters.  I usually buy all my seed at our local Agway which is good quality.  I bought a large bag of thistle elsewhere recently, and the feeder is still full…in fact, barely touched.  I have a new bag from Agway in my garage and I need to throw away everything in the tube and refill it with the better seed.  I predict it will be emptied in two days.

Goodies!  We all love goodies.  Sometimes I buy large bags of peanuts and throw handfuls out on the ground for the squirrels…and…blue jays.  Jays go nuts (no pun intended) for peanuts in the shell.  They call all their friends and then race to see who can abscond with the most peanuts.  Although, I’ve read they hide them for later.

That old standby…bread.  No, the songbirds and woodpeckers don’t eat bread.  But, starlings do.  They seem to enjoy it very much and when they come around, it will help keep them away from the good stuff in the feeders.  I had a stale fruit and nut bread I tore up and threw out for them last week, but they are not fussy…stale white bread seems to please them just as well.

You can experiment with other edibles.  Sometimes cereal and stale cookies are well-received.  Although, I did throw out shredded wheat a few weeks ago, and they turned up their beaks at it.  It was wheat for heavens sake…healthy.  I had a big mess of soggy shredded wheat to clean up from my patio.

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Hi friends…

I am putting my photographic note cards, greeting cards, bookmarks and prints on www.etsy.com.  Was going to create my own web site, but then…why reinvent the wheel.  Just started loading info on the site today and will have dozens more items in the days, weeks and months ahead.  You can check it out now at https://www.etsy.com/shop/ManInTheMoonCards?ref=si_shop, but please stop back from time to time for additional items.

More fiction and poetry to come soon…

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