10 tips for feeding and housing birds | Living the Country Life
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10 tips for feeding and housing birds

Follow these tips to keep birds coming back to your place.
  • Hungry birds

    All you do is give, give, give and all they do is take, take, take. No, not kids -- birds! Feeding and watching wild birds is a favorite pastime in the country. Whether you're a newcomer, or have been bird-watching for years, there are new tips and tricks to better your experience. 

    Date Published: September 5, 2012
    Date Updated: November 8, 2012
  • Foliage and food

    Bringing birds onto your acreage is all about providing the right foliage and food. Keep in mind what types of birds you're trying to entice, and provide the appropriate feeder and type of seed. For example, finches like hanging feeders; evening grosbeaks opt for simple platform feeders; and juncos will eat seed sprinkled on the ground.

    Date Published: September 5, 2012
    Date Updated: November 8, 2012
  • Getting started

    In selecting feeders, make sure they are durable enough to withstand harsh conditions and attacks from other animals attempting to prey or steal food.

    Location is important. Don't just hang your feeder off of any tree. Pick a location that has easy year-round access where cleaning up seed shells and bird droppings won't be an issue. Put the feeder where squirrels and other animals can't reach it.

    Date Published: September 5, 2012
    Date Updated: November 8, 2012
  • Provide protection

    To avoid untimely deaths caused by predators, pole mount your feeder. Pole-mounting may prevent cats and raccoons from climbing to the birds and also from stealing the seed.

    To curb predation by eagles and hawks, buy a dome-covered feeder. Never put out poisons; federal law protects eagles, owls, and hawks.

    Date Published: September 5, 2012
    Date Updated: November 8, 2012
  • Angry birds

    Birds such as blue jays and house sparrows can attack other birds at feeders. Keep them away by only supplying seed they dislike. Most of these pesky creatures won't eat straight black sunflower seed, cracked corn, or white proso millet.

    Date Published: September 5, 2012
    Date Updated: November 8, 2012
  • Vary their diet

    Remember, the feed you choose depends on the time of year. In the spring and summer, most birds eat fruits and insects. Apples, oranges, and raisins can attract bluebirds, mockingbirds, woodpeckers, jays, and orioles. During the fall and winter, stick to seeds or suet for insect-eating birds like woodpeckers, chickadees, and nuthatches.

    Date Published: September 5, 2012
    Date Updated: November 8, 2012
  • Welcome birds home

    Accommodating wild birds is the best way to ensure you have them on your property year-round. You can build an aviary; just anticipate the high amount of upkeep. If this project is for you, pick a spot that's out of the way of trees to avoid dead leaves and branches from falling in. Pad the bottom with a concrete layer as it's easiest to clean and doesn't hold bacteria. Finally, add a top of either mesh or corrugated clear plastic. Mesh works fairly well, but the plastic stops leaves and droppings from harming the birds. It is also essential to keep beak types and the same species together.

    Date Published: September 5, 2012
    Date Updated: November 8, 2012
  • Safe house

    When looking to harbor birds in a house vs. an aviary, keep in mind these birds are planning on nesting. You need protection from predators and the elements.

    Place your birdhouse in a location that's accessible to you. Take weather into consideration. In hot temperatures, provide a bit of shade and face the opening to the north or east to reduce afternoon heat. Do not mount it near a busy street, in an area with constant human activity, or too close to feeders. Birds will use large amounts of energy to protect their nests in these areas.

    Date Published: September 5, 2012
    Date Updated: November 8, 2012
  • Construction is key

    Birdhouses should have panels of wood that are 3/4-inch thick to help ventilate and provide insulation from the heat. Holes near the top will allow heat to escape. A side panel that opens for easy access makes cleaning simple. Each nest should be cleaned out at the end of the season to prep for the next season. Put holes in the bottom corners to supply drainage.

    Date Published: September 5, 2012
    Date Updated: November 8, 2012
  • Keep predators away

    The best way to house birds is to pole-mount, similar to pole-mounted feeders. Predators are unable to climb poles, especially if they're made of metal. Sometimes squirrels that do gain access to the house will chew at the entrance hole to get inside. To curb this problem, either place a block of wood at the hole or put a piece of sheet metal around it.

    Yellow jackets, wasps, hornets, and bees may try to move into the birdhouse. Rubbing a bar of soap on the side surface (not petroleum jelly) makes it difficult to attach a nest.

    Date Published: September 5, 2012
    Date Updated: November 8, 2012
  • The Great Big Backyard Count

    Organizations like the Great Big Backyard Count (GBBC) dedicate themselves to bettering the knowledge society has of wild birds and their locations. For four days every February, bird-watchers across North America create a real-time snapshot of where birds are located. Participants count the greatest number of individuals of each species they see together at any one time and submit findings to scientists.

    The GBBC is backed by sponsors such as the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, Bird Studies Canada, Natural Resources Conservation Service, and the National Science Foundation.

    Date Published: September 5, 2012
    Date Updated: November 8, 2012

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