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how to attract birds for eating bugs?

Posted by natalija_gardener (My Page) on
Mon, Nov 30, 09 at 18:04

I want to try natural method of deleting bugs(caterpillars and slugs) from my garden. I want to attract birds to my garden.
I bought some bird feed and what next? Where should I put it so they "see" it and come? Should I buy special equipment to use to put the feed on? Sorry for my naive question - I am new to all this;-))
Any advice would be greatly appreciated!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: how to attract birds for eating bugs?

Bird seed attracts rodents. Stinky mice, and rodents that big birds eat along with pretty birds. Bird seed is a waste of money. That pretty bird you've named has been picked off for food by the national bandit.
Peace man.


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RE: how to attract birds for eating bugs?

My brother, put's out about 20# of bird food a month. he also plants about two acres of sunflower seed and other seed plants. I was at my brothers having a BBQ, but the bugs were getting the better of us; when a big flock of birds started flying around... and next thing you know, no bugs. He also has several apple trees, which he never sprays, with only very minor damage on the fruit. HUM!


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RE: how to attract birds for eating bugs?

I'm smelling stinkin rodents that invade my space with a hand full of naked little baby mice surviving on bird seed.


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RE: how to attract birds for eating bugs?

Gosh, there's an amazing amount of negativity emanating from you muddydogs.....chill!!

Birdseed doesn't attract any more rodents than does any manner of other urban garden attractions -- and quite a bit less if you use the 'no-waste' seed mixes. These should be offered in some sort of feeder, store bought or homemade. Place the feeder high enough so that the birds feel comfortable and so that neighboring cats can't pounce. And somewhere close to a roosting and/or nesting site - a large shrub or small tree, preferably evergreen.

You may need to protect the seed from squirrels - they tend to be the biggest raiders of bird feeders - but there are various appliances or squirrel baffles sold for this purpose, also 'squirrel-proof' feeders. Also, make sure you have a water source, equally well placed. And hanging suet is a real treat for most birds.

I only put out feeders in winter when other food sources become scarce. The trick to attracting birds year round is to provide both a secure habitat and a variety of food sources. And avoid any chemical pesticides. Don't be too diligent in your garden clean up. Leaving old seedheads in place and a leaf mulch will ensure that even in winter the birds will visit and "clean" your garden for you.

The National Audubon Society provides a great source of info on creating a backyard habitat. And most local societies sponsor a certification process for creating a backyard wildlife habitat. Birds are a gardener's best friends :-)

Here is a link that might be useful: Creating a backyard bird habitat


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RE: how to attract birds for eating bugs?

If all you put out is seed, you will mostly attract seed eating birds. If you want to attract bug eating birds, put out suet. Some birds, like chickadees, go both ways, but the hard core bug eaters will only touch suet. There are suet mixes with seeds and fruit which make everybody happy. I haven't had much luck with the suet that contains dried bugs.


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RE: how to attract birds for eating bugs?

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA (My Page) on
    Tue, Dec 1, 09 at 16:14

Plant locally native trees and shrubs.


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RE: how to attract birds for eating bugs?

Thank a lot for your input!
Can you please reccomend the best places(and best prices) for getting the feeder's(in wich I can put suet and which is protected from squarrels)?


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RE: how to attract birds for eating bugs?

Suet comes in cakes. There are metal cages available to put the suet in. You will want to put the feeder away from anything the squirrels can jump from to the feeder. You will want to get a baffle to keep the squirrels from climbing down or up to the feeder (depending on whether you have it hanging or on a pole). Suet and feeders are readily available at hardware stores and nurseries. I got mine at Wild Birds Umlimited. They may not be the cheapest place to go, but they are handy for me. Try to hang the feeder somewhere you can see it. It's cheep entertainment.


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RE: how to attract birds for eating bugs?

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA (My Page) on
    Wed, Dec 2, 09 at 0:40

The main places I see wharf rats feeding during the day are berrying shrubs, fruit trees like apple and fig trees - and bird feeders. Eastern gray squirrels are guaranteed to be a nuisance at feeders unless you have a carefully and effectively planned setup. If they can get inside a feeder or otherwise situated so they are able to sit in or near the food supply, they will go right through it.

Be sure to price bird seed before spending any time and money on feeders and associated gear.


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RE: how to attract birds for eating bugs?

  • Posted by morz8 Z8 Wa coast (My Page) on
    Wed, Dec 2, 09 at 12:18

natalija, if you are interested in attracting birds, another element you might consider is water. Even with a natural drainage/creek in the canyon just a block below us, the bird baths are a big draw and not just in summer but all year round.

It doesn't have to be expensive or especially ornamental other than to meet your own decorating taste. One 'bath' my elderly neighbor has under a large rhododendron next to my fence is a large plastic pot saucer elevated on a tomato cage...everything from chickadees/finches to larger robins/jays right up to the crows use it, often noisily and happily. Downside to that is she is rinsing and refilling it often, sometimes more than once a day :)


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RE: how to attract birds for eating bugs?

We have 29 bird stations around our house: feeders, water features, etc plus over 300 trees and seasonal creeks.

To get rid of slugs the possum is most valuable. Otherwise it's going out in the middle of the night with a headlamp on and picking them off into a triple plastic bagged garbage receptacle. Repeat repeat etc.

We have a variety of bird feeders and they are all recycled plastic for durability and easy cleaning. Look great, forest green. Got them from Backyard Bird Shop. Use premium blacksunflower, no waste, suet, and thistle. Lots of birds. And hawks to eat the birds.

Birds eat the suet all year. In the summer use no melt. Birds watch other birds pecking away at the suet so give it a try and become converts.

Juncos like to eat off the ground so platform feeders are good for them. Lately I've been sprinkling seed on the concrete bridges in yard and they're most happy like that.

Have a flock of mountain chickadees that live in yard, flocks of flickers and blue jays that visit every day, and lots of songbirds. In the winter the squirrels amuse us with their antics. No point trying to get them out, just enjoy. Wildlife attracts other wildlife and soon it's a zoo out there.

Water is essential. Creeks, pond, bubblers, fountain, birdbaths. And yet the blue jays prefer the water that collects in the porch swing cover.

We planted trees and bushes that birds like. They eat the blueberries, crabapples, figs, cherries, holly berries (robins), soon acorns and hazelnuts, and lots and lots of bugs. Whole flocks of bushtits come several times per day and eat bugs off the trees.

Rats and mice are drawn by water and bird seed. But here the neighborhood cats patrol the yard so vermin no longer a problem.


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RE: how to attract birds for eating bugs?

I have always found a baffle sufficient to keep the rats and squirrels at bay.
Nothing will attract more birds in the summer than water. During our winter frozen spells, water will attract birds, too. You can use plastic pot saucers. Just dump out the ice and add fresh water periodically.


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RE: how to attract birds for eating bugs?

Where are you located? You might consider putting up a hummingbird feeder if you are in the PNW, many of us have overwintering Anna's Hummingbirds, which also eat a fair amount of insects. I totally agree with planting native trees and shrubs to attract birds naturally. Offering suet is a good way to attract chickadees, nuthatch and woodpeckers and if you're lucky an overwintering Yellow-rumped or Townsend's Warbler. The rub is that by doing this, you will very likely also attract European Starlings and English House Sparrows, both capable of dominating and emptying your suet and seed feeders. Starlings particularly like suet and once a few of them find the feeder, more will soon join them. An "upside down" feeder will slow them down a bit as only one or 2 can feed and yes, they are fully capable of hanging upside down, rather like an oversized noisy hummingbird;-) Nyjer Thistle can be offered in a feeder with slots small enough for small birds such as chickadees,Pine Siskin and American Goldfinch(they also eat bugs during the summer season) I would recommend hanging all bird feeders a minimum of 6 feet off the ground to protect against an outdoor cat ambush. Offering water in the form of a drip or mister and a birdbath will also attract many species not likely to eat at your feeders. Good luck to you.


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RE: how to attract birds for eating bugs?

I have a really large pot on my patio, with a large japanese maple in it. In the wintertime, I hang a suet cage feeder in it and it is amazing how many birds are attracted to it. Today, there were downy woodpeckers, juncos, chickadees, flickers, towees and a purple finch eating from it. There was also a brown sparrow-type bird but I don't know the exact variety. We have had squirrels eating from the feeder but not often and if we have had rats, I haven't seen them. We have done this for at least 10 years. Good luck with your bird feeder project.


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RE: how to attract birds for eating bugs?

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA (My Page) on
    Fri, Dec 4, 09 at 11:08

Wharf rats are particularly interested in sweet fruits, ones seen raiding bird feeders apparently are eating seeds also. Seed spilled on the ground becomes accessible to Norway rats. Birds often push small seeds aside in order to get at sunflowers seeds, it has been suggested to buy those only.


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RE: how to attract birds for eating bugs?

In the past I had a problem with those darn squirrels eating all the bird seed in a matter of hours. When I saw a squirrel proof feeder at a local store, I was disappointed by the high price around $100. Then I found a very affordable squirrel proof feeder for under $20 at a big box store. I bought it and filled to the top. The seed lasted nearly a month with all kinds of birds (sparrows, buntings, chickadees, towhees, finches etc and recently northern flickers) feeding on it at all times of day. The squirrels have tried to get at the seed with no luck and give up.


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RE: how to attract birds for eating bugs?

As someone said much earlier in this post, insect-eating birds don't go for birdseed, except for the chickadees.

For insect-eating birds, you want a birdbath, and suet. Many more birds will use the birdbath than either suet or birdseed. You will want a shallow birdbath with a rough inner surface, your classic concrete birdbath. Birds won't go in water that's more than a couple inches deep, and they want a rough surface so they don't slip. These are not the easiest to maintain - I've seen birdbaths on the market that are deep and smooth and people think they're better because they won't have to fill them so often, and they'll be easier to clean, but the birds won't touch them.

I get birds at my birdbath year round, even when it's been raining for weeks. Robins, jays, towhees, finches, sparrows, warblers, chickadees, bushtits, juncos, you name it. Place it a few feet from shrubbery or a tree, so they can see any cats coming and dive for cover. I love watching them, especially in late summer when the new fledgling birds are learning how to use the birdbath.

For suet feeding I have what's called a 'crow cage' from Wild Birds Unlimited. It only allows smaller birds to get to the suet. Means the towhees and woodpeckers can't get it either, but it's necessary to keep the crows and starlings off. I have the suet cage itself suspended about an inch from the bottom of the cage so the flickers can hang from the bottom and reach the suet. The starlings can just barely do that too, but it's hard enough for them that they rarely do so. Ask to see their suet cage setups that keep the starlings off, and you'll see what I mean. I also take down the suet when the starlings are nesting, usually April, and don't put it back up again until they're done in summer.

To minimize seed waste I buy straight black oil sunflower seed. It's more expensive than the mixes, but the birds toss out much of what's in the mixes.


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RE: how to attract birds for eating bugs?

Water feature.

That's the way to super-charge the landscape with bird visitors.

We found that small trees for landing perches, and seed feeders brought birds. But the water feature virtually tripled the number of birds. Even without a feeder.


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RE: how to attract birds for eating bugs?

  • Posted by bboy USDA 8 Sunset 5 WA (My Page) on
    Sun, Dec 6, 09 at 22:52

Obi-Wan is a great mentor.


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