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Old February 24th, 2016, 03:35 PM
MaryBethB. MaryBethB. is offline
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Feeding the outdoor birds

I have a few questions about feeding the outdoor birds. There's a bush on the side of our yard where the birds and squirrels like to look for food. My husband collects acorns from various places (so as not to deplete the supply in one area) all fall so that he can help the squirrels out in the winter. And he also spreads seeds under the bush when he takes the dogs out in the morning. He also fills a bowl of seed on the table under our kitchen window.

We've had the best time seeing the many different varieties. (Although ever since he bought a bag labeled "Cardinal food" last week Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal have not returned. )

Two questions:

1. Is there a time of year where we should taper off on feeding them?

2. what can I do so that I can enjoy them without frightening them. When I walk past the window or do dishes they sometimes get skittish and fly away. Moving the table farther away from the window worked great. They were less afraid and I got a better look but the weather has been wet and the overhang near the house gives them shelter. I wondered if there isn't something I could put on the window so I could see them but they wont see me? My cousin has a bird feeder inches from her window and she said they just get used to seeing people.
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Old February 24th, 2016, 11:06 PM
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hazelrunpack hazelrunpack is offline
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They will eventually get more accustomed to seeing movement on your side of the window and not flush so readily, but it will take a while. There are 'one-way' films you can put on a window--you can see through your side, but it's (usually) shiny on the other. Look for a film that's as dull as possible on the non-see-through side--a shiny surface may encourage the birds to challenge their reflection. You've heard of birds obsessed with their reflection in car mirrors? Same deal... Another danger is that a reflective surface can increase the number of window hits you get--and they can be fatal for the birds. So if you end up with something shiny on the outside, make sure you put up silhouettes (on the outside surface) to break up the reflection.

Another thing you can do is protect the feeders with covers so you can move them away from the house. We use large, inexpensive plastic bowls, inverted to make a dome, drill a hole through the center of the bottom for hardware with a hook on top and one below the dome. Use the top hook to hang the dome from a shepherd's hook and hang the feeder from the hook below. I wish I had a good picture of what I'm trying to describe, but maybe you can get an idea from this one:

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The platform feeder closest to the camera has a large bowl over it--the mesh feeder and the blue feeder at the other end of the line both have smaller bowls over them. We use smaller bowls over thistle feeders, too...

Name:  Busy feeders 1-15-12 A.jpg
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The domes work pretty well unless it's very windy and wet--then nothing, not even being under the eaves, will help much.

As for when to taper off feeding--around here, the feeders are most used in very cold weather. Once it warms up in spring, there's a hiatus at the feeders from the end of migration until the broods are fledged. So typically, June and July are pretty quiet, with traffic picking up again in August when the young'uns show up. After fall migration, the feeders are quiet until it gets cold and/or snowy.

If you intend to only feed in winter, you can taper off as migration winds down in late May and start up again when the weather turns cold. Here, we feed all year.
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Old February 25th, 2016, 06:35 PM
MaryBethB. MaryBethB. is offline
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Thank you for the info....and the BEAUTIFUL pictures. I love them !!

I think we'll add some feeders and take your advice on the covers and the silhouettes. My strategy so far has been to have dirty windows. But seriously, my friend had a mourning dove fly into her window and die. It was awful.
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Old February 25th, 2016, 09:43 PM
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Hey there Hazelrunpack:

Can you send some of those birds up here to Thunder Bay? My goodness you have quite a flock there in your backyard. We see lots and lots of Goldfinches, but can't tell what some of the others are on the ground.

Also, Marybeth, we have found that the birds will fly when they see or sense movement in the house - we get it all the time. But once you sit and settle, they come back pretty quickly and you can watch them again.

Some are more skittish than others. Blue Jays will come down to the deck to retrieve their peanuts with our kitty cats sitting on the floor of the kitchen watching them through the patio door. We have one of those pergola (spelling) over out deck so they perch up there calling for the peanuts. There are also a couple or three Crows that do the same thing.
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Old February 26th, 2016, 01:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MaryBethB. View Post
My strategy so far has been to have dirty windows. But seriously, my friend had a mourning dove fly into her window and die. It was awful.
I hear ya about how awful it is. We don't get many window strikes here, but I hate that sound...and it's so sad to see them lying there.

Funny about the dirty windows--cuz that works! Some people have gone so far as to paint designs on the outside with soap. It breaks up the reflections, with the added bonus in that if you hose the windows off every few months, it keeps the clear patches of glass sparkling clean!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Reg View Post
Hey there Hazelrunpack:

Can you send some of those birds up here to Thunder Bay? My goodness you have quite a flock there in your backyard. We see lots and lots of Goldfinches, but can't tell what some of the others are on the ground.
I wish I could send you the siskins, Reg--they're feisty enough to chase the goldfinches and the redpolls off the feeders and they poop up a storm. These pics are from a couple years back. This year we don't have quite as many--I haven't seen a mixed group of more than about 180 finches all winter. In the past few years, we've had as many as 300 winter finches on the ground or at the feeders at the same time.... (Those are big budget bird seed years! )
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