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birds at feeders

Posted by marric Z5a Ontario (My Page) on
Tue, Dec 31, 13 at 13:17

I don't know why some people don't like doves, I think they are beautiful birds right from the blue eyeliner to the pink iridescent spot on their necks. We made a feeder for them using an old piece of PVC pipe. DH cut in half lengthwise, made some braces for it to sit on and put it on the top of the fence. It has some smaller holes drilled in the bottom for drainage. As you can see, it is quite popular with the doves. Being black, it warms up quite a bit on a sunny day and we usually see 4 or 5 sitting in there. Marg
 photo IMG_1538_zpsa40a0ee2.jpg

This year we have lots of doves, blue jays and woodpeckers. Today the blue jays stayed away.
 photo IMG_1531_zps68927355.jpg

This poor little guy crashed into out dining room window. When I heard the crash I ran outside to see if it was alright. It was stunned by the accident but I stayed nearby just to make sure that nothing got to him/her. After a while it flew off.
Hairy Woodpecker photo IMG_1508_zpsded94f45.jpg


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: birds at feeders

  • Posted by beegood Zone 3 Alberta (My Page) on
    Tue, Dec 31, 13 at 16:58

Neat pictures. Wish I had doves. I get a few in the summer and can hear them but not very often.


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RE: birds at feeders

Beautiful pics, Marg! No doves here although five generations of maggies and plenty of woodpeckers. Watching a little nuthatch as I type. They have also been plentiful this winter.

Happy New year to all and working on making it a prosperous and joyful one! :)

Ginny

PS What do you feed the doves?


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RE: birds at feeders

  • Posted by marric Z5a Ontario (My Page) on
    Wed, Jan 1, 14 at 16:17

We usually feed all the birds a mix of cracked corn, sunflower seed and a small yellow seed , the mix comes that way. The doves seem to love whatever seed it is and the cracked corn. Blue jays or starlings eat the rest. We've stopped feeding the shelled nuts, just using the peanuts in the shell, really pissed off the starlings. Marg


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RE: birds at feeders

Nice pics!

The little yellow round seed is called millet. It is favoured by ground feeding birds.

Happy New Years all!!!


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RE: birds at feeders

Lucky you, to have doves. We only see those in the summer. I love their cooing, some folks think it's an owl hooting. But once you hear an owl, you don't make that mistake again.

Here in Manitoba we have many woodpeckers, like the little fellow that hit your window and of course chickadees, and grouse who gather under our spruce trees..

It sure is quiet in the woods this time of year.

Best wishes to all in 2014.


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I don't think I've ever seen a dove in Alberta, then again, I don't really know my birds very well.

Been in the same house 20 years now. When I put up feeders soon after we moved in, it was a trough-style feeder that attracted a million sparrows. Trees were short then so that's really all that was around. When the trees got bigger and the redpolls and chickadees moved in I began to loathe the sparrows since they chased the redpolls and chickadees away. So I got a two bowl-style feeders (you can see one in the photo below) with holes too small for the sparrows. Much less waste of the feed, and now we have an almost non-stop parade of redpolls, and sometimes chickadees near sunset. Redpolls have gone through 80 pounds of black oil sunflower seed so far this winter.

 photo Apr512redpoll4.jpg

We also have 2 burr oaks that are riddled with galls in the summer. A couple years ago we began seeing regular winter visits from a downy woodpecker. He kind of makes a mess of the bark going after whatever insect larvae are under there, but there seem to be markedly fewer galls on the leaves in the summer, so I'm guessing it must be the larvae of gall wasps? A few days ago I added a suet cake that has insects in the suet and the woodpecker now divides his time between the bark insects and the suet. I see it has also attracted a second woodpecker, but they seem to be quite territorial so I think they're going to have to learn to share between the suet and the two trees :)
 photo Dec1013woodpecker1.jpg

 photo Jan214Woodpecker4.jpg

Also, I think this is some kind of woodpecker? It came around only briefly one day, haven't seen it since. Can someone ID?
 photo Dec1013MysteryWoodpecker1.jpg


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RE: birds at feeders

  • Posted by marric Z5a Ontario (My Page) on
    Thu, Jan 2, 14 at 18:12

I think that's a Northern Flicker.


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RE: birds at feeders

A google search of northern flicker says you're right! Thanks.


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I have flickers all year around here. They like the suet, which I make myself. I also add ground cat food to my suet and to one feeder. The little birds eat it too. Lots of house finches, and junkos like to hang around here so I fill two feeders just for the sparrows (they like white millet) and a finch sorta home mix in another feeder. :)

Ginny


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RE: birds at feeders

Don555 not that it matters but I think your redpolls are actually house finches. A redpoll should have a short yellow conical bill, none the less both are beautiful.

Flickers are a favorite bird of mine unless they are hammering holes in my house. Due to their persistence to nest in my house I have had to hang bird netting on one side permanently.

For you bird enthusiasts I suggest getting a nyjer feeder. It will attract pine siskins and gold finches which are great fun to watch.

Wish I could feed birds again but it just doesn't seem right when having cats.

Keep the pics coming.


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Great pics! I'll have to get some of the pine grosbeaks at our feeder. We also have chickadees, a couple of woodpeckers, blue jays and whiskey jacks. For some reason, we have no nuthatches this year. Usually there are a couple, at least, that hang around with the chickadees.

Don, can you buy suet with insects in them? Dh had the idea of freezing ants in the summer and then adding them to suet for the birds in winter. I guess someone was there before him!


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RE: birds at feeders

  • Posted by marric Z5a Ontario (My Page) on
    Fri, Jan 3, 14 at 10:17

O.K. Marcia, what's a whiskey jack? Are you talking about a bird or Jack Daniels whiskey? I looked up the nuthatch and we don't have them here that I've seen. Will have to watch for them. Marg


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It's a grey jay! LOL Sometimes also known as "camp robbers". They're easy to tame, and dh used to feed them out of his hand years ago. They aren't as bad as blue jays for bullying the smaller birds, but they are piggies and take over the feeder when they're around. :)


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Marg, the nuthatches are small and quick so it is often harder to see them. I have two large trees very close to this corner window and the feeders are hanging from these trees. Nuthatches hop upside down along the tree trunks looking for food and hiding sunflower seeds. They are really fun to watch and very cute little birds.

Squawky blue jay on the fence as I type, cracking striped sunflower. No whiskey jacks around here that I have seen although we do get the occasional Boreal chickadee. :)

Ginny


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marciaz3: Yes, I bought the suet from The Wild Bird Store in Edmonton, it had insects already in it. They bought it from a supplier, but I don't have the wrapper anymore so I don't know the actual manufacturer. I can see mealworms in there, don't know if there are other insects too. Sure made a difference for the woodpeckers -- they rarely ate from the suet with just seeds in it, but they really go for the bugs-in-suet.

SouthCountry: I think the beak on that bird is actually yellow, but it looks black in the photo because it has a sunflower seed in its beak. I blew the image up... kind of grainy but I think it shows it better than the full-frame image:
 photo Apr512redpoll4trim.jpg


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Great Dove pictures, Marg ...think the closest for zone 3 winter flock would be these rock pigeons, we feed them at the shop, these are great live feed for birds of prey,..have seen them around with a meal!

S40, Jan. 2011 photo DSC02828.jpg

This could be a hoary redpoll, [male].

 photo IMG_3156_1_1.jpg
..

Male common Redpoll, the closest I could find to Don's Redpoll, think you're right.

 photo IMG_2011_1_1_1.jpg


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RE: birds at feeders

Thanks everyone. Konrad, this summer we had some racing pigeons here, I could tell because of the bands on their legs. I called the local bird feed store and they directed me to a club. I called them and we had a lengthy chat. I was told they probably came over from Michigan and had gone astray. He also said they were probably staying around because they found a good 'resting' place. Then he suggested I catch them and he would come get them! Later in the afternoon I saw them leave but they went north. Haven't seen them since. I do have pictures of them somewhere and will post them if I find them. They had beautiful coloring! Marg


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Don555, I been trying to post some house finch pictures for comparison but I am having issues with that hard drive. Driving me nuts as I have 53,000 images on the drive......I am freaking out!!! In my original post I should have also mentioned how the red cap comes down into the eye which also suggests house finch. I have always wondered why such a beautiful bird has such a bland name. You would think it should be some drab brown.

Konrad those are some nice captures!

Marg, as Ginny mentioned nuthatches are the only bird that walks down a tree and a sure fire way to identify them. I don't see them much in the winter here either but in the summer I have a pair of red breasted nuthatches that nest nearby. They also hammer on my siding but don't do damage like the flickers.

Marciaz3, lol "Camp Robbers" is exactly what we call them! It is amazing how fast they show up at camp when you start cooking or hang an animal.

You guys really make me wish I could feed again. One that I really miss is the pine sisken. They are aggressive, to each other, comical and acrobatic little guys.

SCG


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I looked them up and they do bear a strong resemblance to chickadees except that chickadees have a black patch on their neck, nuthatches don't. That's how I could tell them apart. I've seen chickadees on the underside of branches here. Marg


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RE: birds at feeders

Nuthatches are slim, quick little birds and have a longer, narrower beak than the chickadees. And, yes, no black patch on their throat. We have mostly white breasted here but the occasional red breasted. You can't mistake them once you have seen them and ID them. They are fun to watch and like to eat peanut butter out of the bark in my big trees. :)

Ginny


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Southcountry: Tried to get a better picture of my "redpolls"... you are correct that they are really house finches. The photo isn't super sharp, but hey it's hand-held at 80X telephoto, through a window. Got a male and a female together. I read that the male redpoll is supposed to have a black patch above the beak, and this guy certainly does not. Matches the house finch description much better.
 photo Jan614redpolls1.jpg

Now can someone help me with another ID? I've seen this little guy come by twice over the past week (the first time he/she arrived with a friend). They are very small birds that seem to like the insect suet, but rarely stay around very long, maybe 5 or 10 minutes then they're gone. Never seen them before this winter.
 photo Jan614mysteryBird1trim.jpg


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RE: birds at feeders

Red breasted nuthatch is that little guy, Don. I have a few of them this year and one I was trying to get a picture of through the window with my phone! I'll post it if I can.

Ginny


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Don555, that is a nice pic of a 'couple' of house finches! They are really one of my favourite birds. The beak and cap usually give them away as they have way more red than the 'polls' :)

Ginny nailed it, that is a great shot of a red breasted nuthatch. I have a couple that nest nearby, I assume, as they come to pick up cellulose insulation every spring for nesting. I pour a little hummingbird food on tree bark to encourage ants, which they love.

Have a great day all.

SCG


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So you guys have my nuthatches! This is the first year I can remember that we don't have any.

Lance, excellent idea for getting rid of ants!! Dh wants to make ant suet to save for the winter, and that would really help to attract them.


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Thanks for the quick identification on the nuthatch!


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Don, nice shot of the House Finch pair, no mistake here, I love this guy come spring with it's lovely song,..it seems, the first one to ring in spring here.


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Just came off the suet feeder and sheltering from the blustery, chinook winds.


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RE: birds at feeders

OK all you bird feeders, here's a question for you.

How and when do I start to attract birds to my yard? I see very few although other people say they do exist here.

Do I start in the spring with a feeder so that by the time winter comes, they know where to find it? Or do I start in summer? How on earth do the birds figure out I have food for them??


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We don't feed much in the summer, so I would say put a feeder out now. I'm sure they'll find you!


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I don't feed in the summer either except for maybe some slugs that I throw to the maggies. :) I would throw some seed down under a full feeder and maybe hang a suet cage. They will come. I do think most birds prefer a bit of a sheltered location to feed so anywhere you have trees or bushes close by. I also have a heavy lasagna dish on the fence for the platform feeders. Most of the birds use it as it is also fairly sheltered in that corner of my yard. :)

Ginny


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RE: birds at feeders

  • Posted by marric Z5a Ontario (My Page) on
    Tue, Jan 7, 14 at 13:34

I put the feeders out in the fall. I wanted to try and keep the blue jays around this winter. So far it's working. Right now I think all the birds are hunkered down in their nests trying to stay warm!


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NAF, birds attract other birds. So once a few find it more and more will. It also really helps if it is in sight of a flyway like the edge of a field or along a road. Also buying the right seed helps. Most mixed stuff you buy us mostly millet (little yellow balls) which is for ground feeding birds. Most birds that eat at feeders don't like it and will kick it to the ground. A person is better off buying black oil sunflowers and mixing it with a but of striped sunflower and cracked corn. You can then toss millet on the ground for the juncos, doves and the like ( it is cheap which is why so heavily used in mixed stuff). Although the birds eating out of the feeders usually drop enough to keep the ground birds happy. Build it and they will come :-)

SCG


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Shillanorth: Nice pileated woodpecker!


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Nutsaboutflowers: I put up my feeders in late fall after I've cleaned up the gardens and the leaves are down, and take them down when the snow has melted and things are growing again. In the snow-free season there is lots of food available for birds so they don't really need the feeders. Plus we are having squirrels gradually move into our neighbourhood in summer and they seem to go back to the woods or wherever when garden season is over and I don't want to encourage them to hang around for winter bird seed, so it's best to not put up my feeders until the squirrels have left. Also there's the cat issue -- my old cat wouldn't hunt a bird if you placed it in front of her nose, but feeders will attract cats in the summer and with the bushes in full leaf and garden plants tall that gives the cat a chance to sneak up on birds that are getting the seed on the ground. Not an issue in winter since the cats aren't around because of the deep snow, and even if they were there is nowhere for them to hide and the birds would spot them from a mile away.


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Oh, and where to locate a feeder? Like Ginny says, somewhere where they have nearby cover. Heavily branched trees or tall bushes work well, or a conifer, even a big lilac. The trees give them a place to rest and feel safe, so if you go out to refill the feeder, or an aggressive magpie comes around, they just have to fly up into the nearby branches, then return to the feeders when the danger is gone. Beats having to fly far from the feeder when they get disturbed.


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Oh my, look what my insect suet attracted today! I didn't even know we had these in the suburbs.

 photo IMG_7196.jpg


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OMG! He is so handsome! :) Lucky you!

Ginny


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The bad thing about young neighbourhoods no trees so no birds keep the pics coming.


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Or should I say "she"? On closer inspection, I think "she" is a Pileated Woodpecker. They are probably the biggest and most widespread around these parts although they like to stick to the cover of the trees in more low lying areas.

Are you close to Whitemud Ravine, Don? These woodpeckers like the ravines and the river valley.

Ginny


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Yup, definitely a pileated woodpecker. I am south of the Whitemud. I have seen pileated woodpeckers before in the Mill Creek ravine by the Whitemud, well, heard them at least. But even on a direct line the closest part of that ravine is more than 2 km away. And that's all over progressively younger neighbourhoods and progressively smaller trees. So I'm really surprised that it made it this far from the ravine and found my little suet feeder. Now that it knows the food source, I sure hope it comes back for more.


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Well, I put out a casserole dish of sunflower seeds. I wonder if anybody will find it. I placed it on the snowbank near a lilac bush. Does it have to be off the ground? That's likely a silly question, but I've never fed birds before this.


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You might get some taking it off the ground, as there are usually some birds under my feeders eating stuff that has fallen, but you'll fare much better with a hanging feeder -- it gives them a feeling of safety being up off the ground.


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  • Posted by marric Z5a Ontario (My Page) on
    Sun, Feb 2, 14 at 15:23

We have the trough feeder for the doves, a flat feeder for whoever wants to use it and a suet feeder made out of a piece of log. We bought a niger feeder 3 years ago (one of those tubes with the holes in it) thinking the finches would like that but nobody uses it. We see mostly doves, bluejays, sparrows, starlings on the ground, and lets not forget those lovely cowbirds! And we also have the snow owl that keeps coming back and standing on top of the same pine tree. Marg


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RE: birds at feeders

NAF, generally birds are either ground feeders or prefer to feed elevated and the type of seed they like is usually based on this habit.

Ground feeding birds (i.e. junco, dove) prefer to feed in trench (as OP's post) or flat feeders as well as on the ground. They, generally, like the little round seeds (millet) and other finer shelled seeds. Usually they lack the strong beaks of birds, like finch's, that prefer to feed at elevated stations and are unable to crack open seeds like black oil and striped sunflower. Although they are quite happy when someone drops a shelled seed!

While birds that prefer to feed at elevated stations sometimes can be found feeding on the ground they much prefer to be elevated, if even on a trench or flat style feeder. They dislike seeds that ground feeding birds prefer and will kick them out of the feeder and onto the ground, i.e. millet. Most commercially available mixed bird seed contains a high volume of millet and other seeds that ground feeding birds prefer because it is much cheaper to buy. While in the west we have a much higher percentage of birds that prefer to feed elevated so this millet etc goes mostly to waste.

If a person was to buy one seed for elevated feeders I would suggest straight black oil sunflower. There is usually enough cracked shells in the bag of black oil sunflower to accommodate ground feeding birds if placed in trench or flat style feeders, as well the birds that can open the sunflower seeds usually drop enough to keep everyone happy. Of course one could supplement trough and flat feeders with millet and the like. If using a feeder like don555 I would use straight black oil sunflower as they will crack and drop enough to keep the other birds happy.

Marg, there is only two species of birds here in the west that can feed on those nyger (politically correct way of spelling lol ) feeders, the Gold Finch and Pine Sisken. They have erratic wintering habits and will leave areas even if food is available. Best is to hang the feeders in the spring and hope they stick around. Be forewarned that if they find the feeder in any kind of numbers you will be cursing the cost of that seed! I had a 36" tall by 3" dia tube that they would drain daily, back then it cost $10 to fill the feeder!!!!

Whew, how can you tell I was lacking high speed internet at home for over a month....LOL

Have a great night!!

SCG


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RE: birds at feeders

SCG, yes, I use only straight black oil sunflower seed. Gone through two (2) 40-lb bags and somewhere in the middle of another 50 lb bag... still, that's only maybe $80 when I reach the end of the current 50 lb bag.

I used to use trough feeders with "wild bird seed", ie millet plus a bit of useful seed mixed in, and almost all I attracted was house sparrows. Thus my change to black oil sunflower seed and specialized feeders that don't allow sparrows in.


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RE: birds at feeders

I went out and bought an inexpensive bird feeder today, and I've already got the black oil sunflower seeds. If I can make it through the snowbanks to a nice tree branch, I'll put it out today and see what I can attract. If I get some nice birds to entertain our indoor cat and myself, I'll get a few fancier feeders later on.

Thanks for the advice. :)


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Don555, yeah black oil is the far best bang for the buck. When I was last feeding in the Okanagan Valley I was burning through a 50lb bag every two weeks and I don't want to remember my nyger costs.

NAF, birds attract birds so they will multiply in numbers quickly. It may take some time for them to find the feeder but watch out when they do!!

In spring when the birds are migrating is a great time to add striped sunflower, peanuts and other specialty seeds to your mix. I truly believe that the species that favour those other seeds "remember" your place and will stop in next year. One of my favourites that passed through were the white capped chickadees. American Robins are quite fond of fruit, i found grapes a great way to attract them and a bird bath is sure to attract flickers, especially when they have young, as they bathe daily.

Ugg I really miss feeding birds, I sometimes wish I didn't have cats.

SCG


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SCG, there are creative ways to feed birds and keep them safe from your cats. Carefully choose the placement of your feeders to avoid hiding places where the cats can ambush unsuspecting birds on the ground. Put a break-away collar on your cats when they go outside that has two kinds of bells on it: jingle bells for when the cat moves slowly, and the mini cow bell type for when they are moving faster. I kept feeders and indoor/outdoor cats in harmony for years using this method. The only birds they ever captured were an occasional slow or ill bird that was not careful. It can work! Not to mention the hours of entertainment that most cats find watching the birds through the windows from the warmth and safety of the house.


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MyFrozenlittlepond, I have tried with bad success lots of the ways you have mentioned...... I currently have my hummingbird feeders 20 ft out in my yard and 10 ft in the air and my cats still catch a few a year. IMHO you can't feed birds if you have cats without casualties and I am not willing to lure birds to my yard to have my cats catch them.

If you increase the number of birds in your yard the number your cat will kill also increases and it doesn't matter how creative you are with feeders.....more birds + CAT = more dead birds.

thanks for the tips as I wish some would work.

SCG


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Have you ever considered a indoor cat?


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We planted about 15 Saskatoon bushes when we moved in thinking we would have lots of berries for jams etc. Between the robins and cedar waxwings, we have never had a lot of berries. At first I blamed the robins but one day I was walking past a bush and heard a rustling. I looked closer at the bush and there were 4 cedar waxwings inside feasting! SCG, I don't have cats but there are a lot of barn cats around here. They tried to get close to the feeders at first but when they met the dog they ran (I always made sure they were near enough to a fence/tree that they could get away). All my feeders are near the dogs area and I guess the smell of her is enough to keep them away. Nothing is going to keep me from feeding the birds. Marg


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konrad, Yes, but the cats I now have are used to going outside and the kids love playing with them out there. When these two go to the playground in the sky I will have indoor only cats.

Marg, I feel too guilty when I lure birds in for the cats to kill. Even though there is an area that I could have feeders that the cats don't go near the last time I tried feeding the carnage that resulted was heartbreaking.

Hope your all keeping warm.

SCG


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Yes,..I understand, one's outside it would be hard to keep inside.
We had a cat when we had kids in the house, but when kids were gone we still had him for another few years, ..got to be 16 years old. Here, we can't keep cat out because of the town bylaw. No more cat now only a dog.
Make sure when getting a indoor cat, that this cat has never stepped foot outside.


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SCG, maybe you don't have much snow cover where you are? If you do have good snow, cats shouldn't be an issue if you locate the feeder in an open area, hanging from a tree. Even the ground feeding birds will spot any cat long before it gets near and will fly up into the tree until the cat leaves. And in my experience cats don't like going out in the snow and cold anyway. Just remember to remove the feeder when the snow is gone and the weather warms.


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Okay guys, what is this bird? Quite a few of them come by my feeders over the past month, increasingly so as time goes on. They are bigger than a nuthatch, but maybe a bit smaller than a house sparrow. Kind of chicadee-size, but fatter or puffier than a chickadee, if puffier is even a real word?
 photo IMG_8433.jpg


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RE: birds at feeders

  • Posted by marric Z5a Ontario (My Page) on
    Sat, Apr 19, 14 at 7:58

I believe that's a Junco. We have lots of them here this year too.


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Yes, a junco. We haven't had a lot of birds lately but yesterday i'm positive i saw a purple finch kind of disconsolately picking through the sunflower seeds. I don't know what he was doing here so early in the year. It could have been a small pine grosbeak - i didn't get a good look at him and he was gone before i could.


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Dark Eyed Junco for sure. We have lots of Juncos feeding here all winter. In fact.......they are still feeding here......cause we still have WINTER as you know, Don! :)

Ginny


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RE: birds at feeders

Good Morning everyone.

Just a quick update that I'm excited about. I hung my birdfeeder as directed and so far I've seen red breasted nuthatches, and either a few common redpolls or house finches. I need to get a better look. I had no idea we had them here :)

Does anyone know how to identify what the different birds sound like? Perhaps a website where you can listen to each bird?


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congrats on the birds coming! Birds attract other birds so it will only get busier from here....

Allaboutbirds.org

Is one of the better sites on birds.

Don, as others have stated, it is most certainly a dark eyed junco. They are a ground feeding bird and so is one that actually will appreciate eating millet..lol.

This post was edited by SouthCountryGuy on Sat, Apr 19, 14 at 11:39


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Thanks SCG for the allaboutbirds.org tip.

It's awesome :)


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Thanks for the dark-eyed junco ID everyone. Don't recall seeing them in previous years, I hope they stick around!


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Don, I wouldn't worry about them sticking around as they are one of the more prevalent birds in the west. Funny how they haven't shown up for you earlier.

NAF, glad you enjoy the site, as it is fabulous.

SCG


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