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Old April 7th, 2017, 08:40 AM
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Reg Reg is offline
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Birds outside

Hi everyone:

This is Reg's wife, and I'd like to know if anyone out there knows anything about pet hair and wild birds.

Some time back, we remember reading something about saving your pet's fur and hanging it out on the clothesline for the wild birds to use for nesting material. We have been saving our kitty cats fur over the winter.

What we wondered about is when to start hanging the fur out on the line? We live in northwestern Ontario, so there aren't any songbirds yet, but there are lots of Gold Finches, Purple Finches, and of course our Chickadees.

If anyone knows about this practice, let us know - especially when to start pinning the fur on the clothesline. We are also in bear country, and they are starting to come out of hibernation too. We haven't seen any yet, but other neighbours have.

Thank you so much for any help or suggestions.

Ev
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Old April 7th, 2017, 11:03 AM
rhynes rhynes is offline
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put it out and try to keep it dry til the birds take it.

I hadn't really thought about pet fur and birds making nests til reading abou it last year. It's funny to see the dog parks this time of year, people bring their dogs to brush them out and leave half their dog on the ground. It's gone within a day or two.
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Old April 7th, 2017, 11:04 AM
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hazelrunpack hazelrunpack is offline
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Hi, Ev. Welcome!

Yes, birds love to use pet hair in their nests. Undercoat on retrievers appears to be their favorite type, but they use our setters' hair, too, and probably won't turn up their beaks at a chance for some cat fur!

If there's enough (as there is with our setters), we pack the hair into clean suet cages or some sort of mesh bag (like the sort that fresh produce is sometimes packaged in) -- it's a lot less complicated than trying to pin it to the clothesline. The birds love pulling it out. We've even had hummingbirds entertain us as they try to steal a particularly attractive bit of fur and fly off with it.

You can start any time--most of the migratory breeders won't be in your area for another month, but the chickadees and nuthatches will appreciate it now. We usually offer it right through May, but traffic falls off once the nests are built and the eggs are laid. I do put any leftover hair out in July because goldfinches are very late nesters and might be interested, but I have to admit I've never caught a goldfinch taking any....

As for bears, the hair shouldn't attract them at all if that was a worry for you. I have to bring in all my seed, suet, and jelly feeders every night in the summer, but the bears aren't interested in the hair cage at all, so it stays out. The raccoons don't seem interested, either.
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Old April 8th, 2017, 02:36 PM
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Hello Hazel & Rynes:

Thank you for the welcome. I've been here all along because I normally do the typing. Reg swears that the keys move on him after every letter he types.

We moved to our new place almost a year ago, and when the movers were unloading the truck, they put our half dozen 40 lb bags of cat litter in the back porch. We moved in on a Friday, and Wed morning is garbage collection day here, and most people put their goodies out on Tuesday night.

We are now in bear country, and they seem to know what night it is that garbage is at the curb. Well Wed morning, there was quite a bit of stuff strewn all over the place. The bear even came up into our back porch cause there's no door on it yet, and decided that the kitty litter smelled pretty good. It's Swheat Scoop. So he/she decided that it tasted pretty good too. Along with a half pail of raw peanuts in the shell. So there went our chipmunk and squirrel food as well. Needless to say, the litter came inside and we keep the peanuts in the house now too.

Reg went out and measured the distance from the ground to the bottom of the tower feeder today, and it's 7 feet. So unless the bear is an adult one, we should be okay for a bit.

There is a flyer that comes to all homes in the town every year telling residents that the bears are about and anyone feeding birds should remove their feeders. We didn't even put anything out last year until about the middle of August because we hadn't seen any evidence of hummingbirds. Once we did see them, that's when we started hanging the feeder on the clothesline, and we've been hanging the other feeders like that all winter too.

Hummers generally appear around here shortly after Mother's Day, so this year we should be able to feed them a lot sooner than last year.

I haven't seen any Nuthatches, but we do see the odd Chickadee. And we haven't had only one Woodpecker and it came about twice and that's it.

So that's it for now. Thanks again for your info.

Ev
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Old April 8th, 2017, 10:01 PM
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Not sure how I'd feel about bears inside the fence, much less on the back porch! Amazing that they'd find Swheat Scoop tasty... Bears! (smh)
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Old April 9th, 2017, 08:18 AM
Longblades Longblades is offline
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We are asked to not put feeders out, or meat in composts. Not because of bears though there is the odd one (and moose) around, but because it attracts smaller wildlife like skunks, raccoons, feral cats, coyotes, the odd brave fisher, pine marten etc.

They are all quite capable of learning that something that looks like a place where they found food before might again and they'll rip it open whether there really is food in it now or not. They don't need to actually smell food, they just need to remember something that looked like a garbage bag once had food in it. Bears have been known to lift windshields, intact, right out of vehicles because someone once left a window down and a sandwich on the seat.

On a canoe trip we once found a fly-in cabin, a new one too, with a whole back window, not broken, lifted out and placed on the ground, as if it was done carefully. The only things inside not ravaged, wrecked and destroyed were the two canoes stored up on high rafters. It was a bit scary as we were wind stuck at this place and wondered how recently it all had happened and if the bear(s) would come back.
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Old April 9th, 2017, 09:44 PM
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Hello Hazel & Longblades:

We are not very pleased with the bears doing our back porch either, but last year we didn't have much choice having just moved into the house at the end of May. Guess they smelled the wheat in the bags or something. But at least it only ate maybe a third of the bag and scattered some as well. We were able to salvage about 2/3 of it.

Hopefully sometime in the next few months we can find a storm door to put in place and hope it deters the bruins. We think a door will work better than a saw horse - which worked, but it's pretty small.

Longblades - our little town put out a flyer into every mail box last year that people are supposed to not feed the birds, and take down feeders. They evidently put this flyer out every year to remind people. We didn't even put the hummer feeder out until about mid August cause we hadn't seen any of them until only a few days earlier and realized they were around.

The only wildlife we have seen here in town are the bears and an occasional coyote, but nothing else. There are deer between town and the main highway, but Moose are extremely rare. We haven't seen nor smelled any sign of skunks, haven't seen any raccoons, and no martens or fisher are around that we know of. Most outside cats we've seen belong to people - there doesn't seem to be any feral cats here - at least no one has mentioned any.

Once upon a time when Reg was a working fella, he worked in the bush cause he was in mining exploration and he always had some kind of contact with bears, but never had any problems with them. He never had to put one down. He and his men always made sure garbage was locked up at night and taken out when they left the bush.

Sounds like you have had a lot of bear encounters over the years. Could you write a book??????
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Old April 10th, 2017, 08:01 AM
Longblades Longblades is offline
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My OH worked in the bush too. Sometimes many hundreds of airmiles north of the northern most roads in Northern Ontario, for the Ministry of Natural Resources. He flew fire detection too, that was over top of the bush. Later when he became a Conservation Officer it was in S. Ont. in an area without bears. Still, he's the one with the most animal stories. And some harrowing canoe dumping stories too.

We will be on bear lookout soon as there is a pick your own strawberry place nearby and every year bears visit it. So far I have only seen the bears when I've been driving in my car but neighours have encountered them while out dog walking and put a bell on their dog all year long.
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