Thursday, September 6, 2012

Stop Feeding the Squirrels! The Three Best Squirrel Proof Bird Feeders.

Squirrel eating from bird feeder
Photo Credit: Jim Martin, Ohio Department of Natural Resources
Oh, the squirrel. Observe his bright shiny eyes. Gaze upon his magnificent swishy tail. Behold his perky ears and wiggly nose! Look at how he climbs up a tree, hangs upside down at your bird feeder and gorges himself on all those sunflower seeds you just bought. Wait a minute.

As you’ve probably experienced, squirrels and backyard birds don’t mix. Don’t allow these cute and fuzzy thieves make off with the food that was meant for your birds. Below, we’ll talk about the three best squirrel proof bird feeders on the market so you can get back to feeding your birds, and those pesky squirrels can get back to eating their acorns.

Squirrel Buster Plus A best-seller for people with ongoing squirrel problems. Bird lovers have used this feeder for years with proven results. Squirrels attempting to access the perch are instantly locked out of the seed supply because their weight shuts the feeding ports. Also, if you want to feed only small songbirds, simply adjust the tension so that larger birds like grackles and jays can’t access the feeder. Watch this video to see it in action!

Absolute II Squirrel Proof Feeder Like the Squirrel Buster Plus, the Absolute II has a weight controlled feeding mechanism that shuts down when a squirrel attempts to access the seed. This feeder is very popular among birders and has been a long-time favorite. Aside from its high quality construction and the fact that it has stood the test of time, the thing that makes this feeder attractive to birders is that you can view a lot of different birds at once with the two extra long feeding perches on each end. Click here for the best price on the Absolute II Squirrel Proof Feeder

Sky Cafe Feeder This super-stylish feeder’s clear construction lets you get a great view of the birds. The slippery baffle repels squirrels with ease. Squirrels will try to sneak their way down to the feeder, but they’ll be launched off every time! View the hilarious video here.

There are tons of ‘squirrel proof’ feeders on the market, many of which don’t live up to that name. I’ve heard of people going through two or three cheap feeders that the squirrels have chewed up or simply outsmarted. Purchase a durable, proven feeder the first time and you won’t have to go through the headache and expense of buying a new one after the first proves ineffective. I’m positive that one of the three models above will stop your squirrels in their tracks and you’ll probably have some good laughs at their expense. Happy bird watching!

Click here to view more squirrel proof feeders.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Bird Profile: Red-Breasted Nuthatch

red breasted nuthatch sits on a log
Red Breasted Nuthatch
This fiesty little bird has been known to bully larger birds for a prime spot at the feeder. The good thing is it doesn't stick around--it usually dashes away with a single seed, allowing the other birds to quickly return to their feeding positions. This seems to say that the other birds see him as more of an annoying little brother than a threat.

Red breasted nuthatches feed on pinecone seeds in the wild, and store seeds in secret locations as a winter surplus. Usually you will only see a maximum of two nuthatches at your feeder at a time because they are quite territorial and maintain a domain of roughly ten acres each.

Attract nuthatches to your yard with suet, peanuts, and a variety of sunflowers.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Make Homemade Nectar for Hummingbirds

ruby-throated hummingbird sipping from a flower bud
Ruby-throated hummingbird
Commercial hummingbird nectar is usually red, and it's a misconception that you need to hang red nectar to attract these birds. While it's true that the color red does attract hummingbirds, the nectar itself doesn't have to be red. In fact, there could be harmful chemicals in the red food dye that could damage hummingbird kidneys. Here's how to make your own nectar.

You'll need:

1 part white sugar
4 parts water

Combine ingredients in a pot and boil for 1-2 minutes. This will retard fermentation to keep the nectar fresh. Let the nectar cool and fill your hummingbird feeder. It's that easy! If your feeder isn't red. make sure to use red flowers or hang red garden ornaments close to the feeder to attract the birds.

Bird Profile: Mourning Dove

mourning dove perched on a rock
Mourning Dove
The haunting call of the mourning dove is familiar to many. These migratory birds flock together in winter, and it's interesting to note that the males don't always automatically take the dominant position in the flock's hierarchy. Dove pairs stay together as long as the food sources are easily obtained, but if there is heavy pressure to find food, they're likely to go their separate ways.

Mourning doves are best acclimated to weather that is warm with some humidity. They don't do well in dry climates. Mourning doves are extremely common at many feeders across the United States. Their favorite foods include millet, cracked corn and sunflower. They also enjoy locations that offer a plentiful water source.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

5 Types of Bird Food that Attracts a Variety of Birds

yellow rumped warbler perched in a tree
The yellow-rumped warbler is keen on suet.
Want to attract specific birds to your backyard? Here's a list of foods and they type of bird it is likely to attract. Of course this isn't an exhaustive list but if you're a beginning birder this is some food for thought (pun intended!) to get you started:

Black Oil Sunflower
Birds it Attracts: tufted titmouse, northern cardinal, gray catbird, mourning dove, grackle, bushtit, magpie, finch, pine siskin,  nuthatch, grosbeak, chickadee.

Birds it Attracts: red bellied woodpecker, yellow bellied sapsucker, hairy woodpecker, northern flicker, stellar's jay, blue jay, western scrub jay, tufted titmouse, red-breasted nuthatch.

Striped Sunflower
Birds it Attracts: pileated woodpecker, black-billed magpie, raven, tufted titmouse, curve-billed thrasher, northern cardinal, blackbird.

Cracked Corn
Birds it Attracts: house sparrow, eastern meadowlark, red-winged blackbird, northern cardinal, dark-eyed junco, golden-crowned sparrow, mountain chickadee.

Birds it Attracts: raven, mockingbird,  black-capped chickadee, oak titmouse, nuthatch, wren, eastern bluebird, thrush, yellow-rumped warbler, eastern and spotted towhee.

5 Tips to Attract Purple Martins to Your Yard

purple martins, purple martin house
Purple martins perch outside their home.
It's hypothesized that the introduction of the European Starling to North America is responsible for the purple martin's declining numbers. In addition, sparrows (whose numbers are abundant) and purple martins are in constant competition for the same nesting areas. As a result many backyard birders try to create a habitat suitable for these acrobatic birds.  Once you have attracted purple martins to your yard, they should come back to nest there year after year.

These tips will help:

1. Find the most open spot available in your yard and place your purple martin house directly in the center. Ensure that the birdhouse is at least 30 feet away from any human house.

2. Keep the housing closed (so other birds can't use it) until you see the first purple martins arriving on your property. Once you've spotted purple martins in your yard (or on the birdhouse), open the house and keep it open until the end of June.

3. Store your purple martin house indoors for the winter to prevent other critters from nesting inside.

4. Paint your martin house white--it is an attractant.

5. Add pole guards and owl guards to your purple martin house to ensure safety from predatory ground and air raids.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Wren House

wren house with female wren perched outside
Female wren perched outside her house.
Photo Credit: David Tarr, Ohio Department of Natural Resources
Attracting wrens to your yard is somewhat easy because these birds are not very fussy about which cavity they choose for their nests. With this in mind, you may need to hang a few houses because the male wren builds a few nests at a time and the female will choose the one she likes best.

An ideal wren house is a small, simple birdhouse with an oval-shaped entrance. Wrens won't be afraid to nest near your house, so if you can, hang the wren house in an area that is good for viewing from a window or other inconspicuous place. Make sure the wren house is made of rough rood and not sanded smooth or else the babies will have trouble finding the entrance.