I went to an interesting talk at my local garden center where they spoke on attracting birds to the landscape. I’ve always liked watching birds, but the move to this property has taken it to a whole new level. Because we’re surrounded by wooded edges, there’s always a lot of “bird activity” as my husband calls it. I’ve seen birds here I swear I’ve never seen before in my life. It’s really fun, and our cats are completely overjoyed.
I’ve been a little torn on whether or not to put out feeders. In my head, I thought I’d much rather just plant things the birds would like and use so they wouldn’t become dependent on being fed. I also had concerns about predators, disease and them flying into windows. I tried to find research to see if there was any opinion, but it doesn’t seem like there is. Audubon and Cornell Ornithology both have tons of feeder information. Cornell even has Project Feeder Watch, which is a citizen science project that conducts a “winter-long survey of birds that visit feeders at backyards, nature centers, community areas, and other locales in North America”.
I think I’ve decided to feed the birds suet varieties in the winter only and a limited amount of seed mix in the winter and summer. It’s still part of my bigger plan to also include bird-friendly plantings on the farm (as well as houses and water sources). I have to admit, it’s been incredibly enjoyable to watch – I think I might be hooked! Everyone at the talk warned me this would happen, as well as friends and family that feed birds. I’m really lucky that the birds seem to be going through food slowly and there seems to be nothing else around that wants the food. I’ve seen a squirrel 3 times since we moved here 6 months ago, and have never seen a raccoon or opossum. So, we’ll see how long that lasts!
My Bird Feeding Starter Setup
My first two feeder purchases were an upside-down suet feeder and a horizontal log feeder.
It took a few days for the birds to figure them out. It definitely took longer for the upside-down feeder. The favorite seems to be the log feeder. The birds love to move from the woodland edge, to the strip of pine trees behind the feeders (which I call Pine Island). The feeders are also placed about 6′ away from an ornamental weeping cherry tree. The birds seem to absolutely love that it’s nearby. It’s where they all gather and then take individual trips to the feeder. Sometimes there’s dozens of birds just hanging out on the tree. I’d imagine this placement wouldn’t be ideal if you have squirrels, since they could easily leap onto the feeder. Since I don’t seem to have squirrels (how is that even possible?) it hasn’t been a problem.
I purchased this brick suet (plus a berry flavor that’s in the feeder):
And this log suet:
The log lasts a long time and they seem to really love it. It’s been out there about 3 weeks and doesn’t need to be changed yet. I wanted something I wouldn’t have to constantly refill in the winter!
As far as species I’ve seen eat from the feeder (mostly the log): Cardinals, Tufted Titmice, Chickadees, Wrens, Juncos, Downy Woodpeckers (male and female) and Red-bellied Woodpeckers. Bluejays come check it out sometimes, but don’t really eat from it. The woodpeckers are really fun to see! And they stopped tapping on our house for the time being!
My second purchase is a temporary fix to find a way to watch from the main room of our house. The feeders are visible from the bedroom window, but I’m rarely in there during the day. I work from home out of the main room, which also happens to have a deck. I was interested in seed for this spot because it’s easy to get to in the winter and I wanted to provide options for the cardinals and bluejays. I ended up with a seed mix and a terracotta saucer to get started until after the holidays. The saucer isn’t ideal because there’s no drainage or cover, but it’s been working ok.
(the paper towel under the saucer is from a dead insect that was inside our house that I put outside. The birds ate it immediately!)
I do have a bag of just black oil sunflower seeds on order because the mix I got didn’t seem to have many. They were picked through in a few hours.
Wishlist Items & Future Ideas
Obviously, I already have an expansion wishlist!
Like I mentioned before, I want to put houses and water sources around as well as more feeders. I’ll need some seed feeders to switch to once we’re out of winter and I stop putting out the suet. In general, I plan on planting food and nesting sources as I landscape around the house and farm. Most of the beds touching the house will probably become pollinator/bird gardens.
This winter, I’d really like to get:
- This water heater for the deck
- This peanut wreath (really trying to find something for the bluejays to enjoy!)
- This feeder to replace to saucer
I was super excited to find this book at Half-Price Books the other night. I will definitely post a review once I read it!
As much enjoyment as the feeders have brought me, I have to say I think our cats enjoy them 1000x more.