WORDS ON BIRDS
Put Bird Feeders on Fall Projects List
Having feeders ready for other birds might reward you with visits by white-throated, white-crowned or fox sparrows as they move through. Fall is always a good time for unlikely visitors to make an appearance. Many immature birds wander out of their normal ranges. Look for dickcissels, blue grosbeaks or yellow-headed blackbirds during autumn. Check those feeders carefully, because you never know what might show up!
You may also catch the early arrival of wintering birds from up north. Juncos, crossbills, pine siskins and redpolls are always possible at feeders. All the more reason to have your feeders cleaned, filled and ready.
Speaking of clean, I can't emphasize enough the need to keep feeders clean throughout the seasons. If you have feeders up but haven't cleaned them in a while, please add that to your project list. It is all too easy for seed left in a feeder too long to breed bacteria that will harm the birds. If seed goes bad, birds will stay away. Though we had a dry summer season, a wet autumn can raised havoc with feeders. The wetter the season, the more often feeders should be emptied, cleaned thoroughly, and refilled with fresh seed. The regular cleaning of feeders at least once a month will keep birds attracted to your yard.
If you are thinking of adding new feeders, position them when you can view them from the house - that's what makes it fun. You can place them on a pole in the yard near cover that the birds can use, but far enough away from trees and shrubs where squirrels may reach them. A bracket that mounts next to a window or clamps onto a deck will bring a feeder closer for easier viewing. A window feeder mounted on the glass or on your sill will bring them closer still. Unless you get a feeder that is squirrel-proof (there are some that work better than most), then you should add a good baffle to help deter squirrels.
Several different feeders with different seed will bring the greatest variety of birds. Adding suet, peanut butter, fruit or meal worms will attract other birds. Water is also very important, especially during the winter months. A heated bird bath provides fresh drinking water for birds in winter when natural sources are frozen and it will draw many grateful birds to your yard.
So plan your bird feeder projects now before the winter chill REALLY sets in, and before your neighbors get a jump on "your" birds!