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BigBallChunkyTime
Nov 25, 2011

Kyle Schwarber: World Series hero, Beefy Lad, better than you.



Illegal Hen

My wife and I have gotten very interested in the Cornell Bird Feeder Cams over the past years (link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5x01AdCuLnk). We have our coffee on weekend mornings and watch our bird friends and even do dorky things like assign them personalities and assign voices to them.

Anyway, enough about my nerdiness:

We've decided we want to set up bird feeders in our yard to attract the maximum number of bird breeds in our area. Currently, we have a pole with 4 hooks. We have 2 tube feeders with just regular "wild bird seed" that you can buy anywhere. We also have a suet cage with a suet cake, and a hopper feeder filled with safflower seed. On a seperate shepherds hook, we have a tray feeder with black oil sunflower seeds.

We just set it up yesterday. Thus far, we have only been able to attract a flock of finches that we attracted before with a singular tube feeder. They friggin LOVE that tube feeder.

Will it be a while before other area birds "get the word," so to speak and come check out our offerings? I'll attach pictures a bit later as I'm not at home right now. What can we do to attract the widest variety of local birds?

We have a big bay window in our living room that we wish to observe them out of, and our feeding station is about 20 feet away from our front door.

I live in SE Wisconsin if that helps.

BigBallChunkyTime fucked around with this message at 18:10 on Apr 14, 2019

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big dyke energy
Jul 29, 2006

Football? Yaaaay


If you want to attract more finches, get a finch-specific feeder and thistle/nyger seed, they love that stuff. Suets and things tend to attract more woodpeckers (and squirrels).

Having some kind of water feature will attract a TON of wildlife to your yard. My parents never put out bird seed or anything, but they had a pond in the back and a little fountain in the front and all sorts of birds and animals would come through to drink. It's pretty easy to set up a little pond thing or whatever with circulating water.

You can also look into landscaping your yard to be more friendly to native wildlife. Less grass, more native shrubbery and flowers, etc. You can also grow things like coneflowers and daisies that put out a lot of seeds naturally and will attract birds (and bees!!) Birds loving love hanging out in the shrubs at my apartment, and those are right next to the parking lot. If the environments right, they'll come and hang out.

BigBallChunkyTime
Nov 25, 2011

Kyle Schwarber: World Series hero, Beefy Lad, better than you.



Illegal Hen

big dyke energy posted:

If you want to attract more finches, get a finch-specific feeder and thistle/nyger seed, they love that stuff. Suets and things tend to attract more woodpeckers (and squirrels).

Having some kind of water feature will attract a TON of wildlife to your yard. My parents never put out bird seed or anything, but they had a pond in the back and a little fountain in the front and all sorts of birds and animals would come through to drink. It's pretty easy to set up a little pond thing or whatever with circulating water.

You can also look into landscaping your yard to be more friendly to native wildlife. Less grass, more native shrubbery and flowers, etc. You can also grow things like coneflowers and daisies that put out a lot of seeds naturally and will attract birds (and bees!!) Birds loving love hanging out in the shrubs at my apartment, and those are right next to the parking lot. If the environments right, they'll come and hang out.

The finches live in the shrubbery under my living room window already.

Would a birdbath help at least in the interim?

Reiterpallasch
Nov 3, 2010



Fun Shoe

An idle question to piggyback on OP's: how effective are bird feeders in a dense urban setting? Am I likely to get any songbirds at all in Oakland (there's some pretty intact forest up in the hills a few miles away) or is it just going to be pigeons and seagulls 24/7? I imagine squirrels at least can't make it to a balcony on the sixth floor of an apartment building? Is it "good" to do this, or am I just going to be attracting birds into an environment they're not well-adapted for?

Internet Explorer
Jun 1, 2005


Oh boy, is this thread fortuitous.

I live in a downtown area and have been slowly getting into bird feeding over the last year or so. With Spring here, I decided to up my game a bit.

In the past I had a few feeders from Amazon, sometimes filled with Nijer and sometimes filled with a Finch mix. I get mostly house finches, which is fine with me cause they're pretty cool.

I recently found out about Wild Birds Unlimited, which is a franchise bird feeder store. https://www.wbu.com/ Check to see if you have one in your area. The staff is super helpful. Stuff is a little more expensive but it's miles ahead of what's sold on Amazon or Lowes.

If you live in an urban area and don't have a lawn, look into wasteless bird seed mix. That way you don't have a bunch of shells and stuff sitting on your balcony that you have to clean.

Water baths are a huge attraction for birds. As one of the WBU staff said to me, not every bird is looking for food, but every bird is looking for a drink.

I'm still new to the hobby but I can try to answer some questions. Just one thing to keep in mind, no matter what you do, it can take a couple of weeks before the birds find your set up and word spreads.

[Edit: OP, if you have multiple feeders try different food in each. Having the same food in all of them isn't as helpful. And yes, give it some time and you'll have plenty of birds. It is likely still a little early in the season that far north.]

Internet Explorer fucked around with this message at 07:48 on Apr 17, 2019

gaj70
Jan 26, 2013


BigBallChunkyTime posted:

***
We have a big bay window in our living room that we wish to observe them out of, and our feeding station is about 20 feet away from our front door.
***

Not directly responsive, but we bought one of those clear plastic bird feeders that sticks to windows using suction cups. It's neat because the birds are almost in your living room... you can even sit a few feet away and they won't see you.

BigBallChunkyTime
Nov 25, 2011

Kyle Schwarber: World Series hero, Beefy Lad, better than you.



Illegal Hen

gaj70 posted:

Not directly responsive, but we bought one of those clear plastic bird feeders that sticks to windows using suction cups. It's neat because the birds are almost in your living room... you can even sit a few feet away and they won't see you.

I would do this except we have toddlers and cats. The birds would not go there for long.

Also we have shrubbery directly under our living room window, so it would be difficult for us to attach something to the outside of the window. We do have other windows in the house where this may be feasible, however. Thanks for the suggestion!

BigBallChunkyTime fucked around with this message at 14:15 on Apr 21, 2019

flakeloaf
Feb 26, 2003

Still better than android clock



Squirrels.

lllllllllllllllllll
Feb 28, 2010

Now the scene's lighting is perfect!


Personally I think that treating random birds like freeloaders is bad optics in late stage capitalism, but it's your decision OP.

gaj70
Jan 26, 2013


lllllllllllllllllll posted:

Personally I think that treating random birds like freeloaders is bad optics in late stage capitalism, but it's your decision OP.

They're paid entertainers. Like actors, tv journalists, and professional athletes.

Squalid
Nov 4, 2008



BigBallChunkyTime posted:

The finches live in the shrubbery under my living room window already.

Would a birdbath help at least in the interim?

Birdbaths help, especially if you are in a dry area. I think you are right that a little bit of time will help birds learn about your feeders. Given a year I expect you will receive more guests. Once migrating birds notice the location this fall you may find a lot more stop by next spring.

big dyke energy is right though, a yard with good native plants has a wonderful effect on the birds. Finches might like nesting in your shrubbery, but what birds really like about native plants is that they attract insects. A big native oak tree will easily provide more food everyday of the summer than a bird feeder, mostly in the form of caterpillars. Here's an article summarizing some benefits of native plants:

https://www.audubon.org/news/grow-these-native-plants-so-your-backyard-birds-can-feast

Native plants are especially good at attracting nesting birds, who need to feed their offspring lots of protein rich insects.


Reiterpallasch posted:

An idle question to piggyback on OP's: how effective are bird feeders in a dense urban setting? Am I likely to get any songbirds at all in Oakland (there's some pretty intact forest up in the hills a few miles away) or is it just going to be pigeons and seagulls 24/7? I imagine squirrels at least can't make it to a balcony on the sixth floor of an apartment building? Is it "good" to do this, or am I just going to be attracting birds into an environment they're not well-adapted for?

They definitely work. In fact in a city like Oakland you could end up getting some birds you can't find outside the city. In particular, I'd look out for Monk parakeets and maybe even Red-masked parakeets, both of which are established in the urban bay area. These birds rely on human food sources and are not common outside the urban space. Besides a seed feeder I think you could have good luck with a red hummingbird nectar feeder as well.

Reiterpallasch
Nov 3, 2010



Fun Shoe

I ended up going out to the WBU in Concord last week and spending an embarrassing amount of money on what I can describe only as the F-22 of bird feeders; just caught my first visitors yesterday evening. It looked like a pair of towhees, who promptly got into a big huge stupid fight over who would get to use the feeder (which has four feeding positions) and flew off without eating anything.

Then this morning my roommate came downstairs to find her cat plastered to the balcony door, staring at three birds on the feeder chowing down. Her phone camera isn't...great, but it looks like the local birds are starting to figure out that there's a feeder here.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Reiterpallasch posted:

Then this morning my roommate came downstairs to find her cat plastered to the balcony door, staring at three birds on the feeder chowing down.

This is one of the advantages of a bird feeder. It's like a television for your cat.

Just hope you don't get huge flocks of garbage birds figuring out you have a feeder and covering your feeder's environs [in poo poo]. I periodically have to take down my bird feeder for a while when the grackle flocks discover it.

Rahonavis
Jan 11, 2012

"Clevuh gurrrl..."


You might want to check the birdwatching thread here: [url] https://forums.somethingawful.com/showthread.php?threadid=3566028&perpage=40[/url]

My suet feeder was swarmed by Yellow-Rumped Warblers a few days ago, but it looks like most of them have moved on. On the other hand, Iíve had a male Ruby-Throat at my hummingbird feeder already and the Orioles are back!

Reiterpallasch
Nov 3, 2010



Fun Shoe

me, last week: oh no, i wonder if any of the birds are going to be able to find my feeder, it's so high up
me, today: jesus loving christ you feathered bastards are eating me out of house and home

might be the weather, it's raining pretty hard and unseasonably over here. hoping the seed in the feeder doesn't mold.

flakeloaf
Feb 26, 2003

Still better than android clock



I switched to a feeder that squirrels haven't figured out and grackles can't use, and so far, the sparrows & yellow finches seem quite happy to fill the gap.

On bug control, I think I may just have to invest in a herd of aardvarks. Do you think a zoo will just rent them to me, or am I going to alibaba for this?

nankeen
Mar 20, 2019

by Cyrano4747


live planting is the way to go. when choosing native species for your garden, check what sort of fruit they produce. some birds like berries, some like legumes, some like pine seeds, some will eat anything; if you have a diversity of fruit, it'll attract a diversity of birds! you could also consider planting a few big tussocks of native grass in your garden. they make a cool feature and will bring finches, not to mention lizards (and birds that eat lizards)

small birds are in constant peril. everything eats them. they like having layers of foliage between themselves and the sky to minimise their visibility to flying predators, and they like another layer of foliage down low to hide from things approaching at ground level - this is especially important for tiny insectivores like robins, which forage for their prey in the leaf litter and so have to be on the ground a lot. low sprawling shrubs are great for this, especially if they're thorny or prickly - think rosebushes or blackberries, small birds love nesting in those. it also discourages your local cats from treating the feeding station as a kfc

the other thing to consider when making a feeding station is that birds prefer to perch on sticks and branches than balance on a concrete ledge. could you find a way to incorporate natural woody material into the watering spot?

thank you for doing your bit to help the creatures i hope you have huge success

GreyjoyBastard
Mar 28, 2010


I've made a huge mistake.



nankeen posted:

live planting is the way to go. when choosing native species for your garden, check what sort of fruit they produce. some birds like berries, some like legumes, some like pine seeds, some will eat anything; if you have a diversity of fruit, it'll attract a diversity of birds! you could also consider planting a few big tussocks of native grass in your garden. they make a cool feature and will bring finches, not to mention lizards (and birds that eat lizards)

small birds are in constant peril. everything eats them. they like having layers of foliage between themselves and the sky to minimise their visibility to flying predators, and they like another layer of foliage down low to hide from things approaching at ground level - this is especially important for tiny insectivores like robins, which forage for their prey in the leaf litter and so have to be on the ground a lot. low sprawling shrubs are great for this, especially if they're thorny or prickly - think rosebushes or blackberries, small birds love nesting in those. it also discourages your local cats from treating the feeding station as a kfc

the other thing to consider when making a feeding station is that birds prefer to perch on sticks and branches than balance on a concrete ledge. could you find a way to incorporate natural woody material into the watering spot?

thank you for doing your bit to help the creatures i hope you have huge success

Definitely Not Avshalom is an excellent source for this sort of thing and they are my favorite posts of hers

Squalid
Nov 4, 2008



An excellent starter native plant for North American birdies is sunflowers. Many birds will eat the seeds, but even before they are ripe Gold Finches will gleefully devour their petals. Of course that can leave you with some awkwardly bare stalks stripped of their colors, but the birds at least won't mind.

BigBallChunkyTime
Nov 25, 2011

Kyle Schwarber: World Series hero, Beefy Lad, better than you.



Illegal Hen

The Grackles are coming. This is out my front window looking towards my neighbors yard. Forgive the window smear as I have small children.



Active day at the feeder. So far I've had sparrows, mourning doves, gold finches, house finches, Cardinals, cowbirds, black capped chickadees, and rose breasted grosbeaks (but only once). That's an all-time list, not just the day I took that picture.

BigBallChunkyTime fucked around with this message at 20:25 on May 29, 2019

Iminnosynt
Oct 7, 2003


Do the grackles just decimate your suet station (I think I see a suet cake in a cage in your picture)?

Recently, a red-bellied woodpecker has been visiting, but I also get an assortment of finches, sparrows, doves, blackbirds, ducks, squirrels, and rabbits that benefit from my feeders.

BigBallChunkyTime
Nov 25, 2011

Kyle Schwarber: World Series hero, Beefy Lad, better than you.



Illegal Hen

Iminnosynt posted:

Do the grackles just decimate your suet station (I think I see a suet cake in a cage in your picture)?

Recently, a red-bellied woodpecker has been visiting, but I also get an assortment of finches, sparrows, doves, blackbirds, ducks, squirrels, and rabbits that benefit from my feeders.

Honesty, I took that picture of my feeder a couple of weeks ago and have since taken down the suet cage as it was getting completely ignored. I have since replaced it with another hopper feeder that gets lots of attention. The grackles weren't in my neighbors yard until after I had replaced the suet feeder. So far they've mainly just eaten off the ground and had showdowns with the brown-headed cowbirds on those crossbars.

Panic Restaurant
Jul 19, 2006







Pork Pro

My seed and suet feeders have been getting just annihilated by grackles as of late. Iím thinking about trying out an upside down suet feeder and switching over to Safflower for the seed feeder. Anyone have any luck with these methods? Grackles are at least amusing to watch and not an invasive species, but theyíll empty newly filled feeders in a day and scare everyone else off.

Reiterpallasch
Nov 3, 2010



Fun Shoe

grackles are really pretty but also my birdseed expenditures are already high as they are so i don't know if i'm happy that grackles aren't on the west coast or not

nankeen
Mar 20, 2019

by Cyrano4747


Panic Restaurant posted:

My seed and suet feeders have been getting just annihilated by grackles as of late. Iím thinking about trying out an upside down suet feeder and switching over to Safflower for the seed feeder. Anyone have any luck with these methods? Grackles are at least amusing to watch and not an invasive species, but theyíll empty newly filled feeders in a day and scare everyone else off.
are you able to set up a different feeder elsewhere for the suet? in my experience you can't selectively repel or outwit grackles or their cousins (starlings, blackbirds etc) once they know you've got food, so sometimes you have to give them their own special area so they stop bothering all the others

e: if you do have a tree or shrub, i suggest putting the suet feeder out in the open and the non-suet feeder under the plant. grackles are pretty audacious so they'll be happy to stay in the open with the suet, and any shyer species that they've frightened off will be, by their nature, also the same species who prefer to eat under the shelter of the leaves. if you also provide two water sources everybody should be happy with the situation, and you can monitor which species come to which feeder for your records

nankeen fucked around with this message at 03:24 on Jun 1, 2019

Internet Explorer
Jun 1, 2005


My understanding was that they kind of come and go, not camping any one spot fit more than 2-3 weeks. Is that not the case? Have a pair of them that discovered my feeder about a week ago. As long as it's just 2, I'm fine with it, but research says they don't stick around long.

BigBallChunkyTime
Nov 25, 2011

Kyle Schwarber: World Series hero, Beefy Lad, better than you.



Illegal Hen

I did some reading and apparently I mainly have garbage birds like house sparrows and cowbirds lol.

Internet Explorer
Jun 1, 2005


I like my house sparrows, even though they're invasive.

BigBallChunkyTime
Nov 25, 2011

Kyle Schwarber: World Series hero, Beefy Lad, better than you.



Illegal Hen

Internet Explorer posted:

I like my house sparrows, even though they're invasive.

Oh, I do, too. My wife and I call them our misfits.

nankeen
Mar 20, 2019

by Cyrano4747


sparrows are nice because they're gentle. the only way they hurt other birds is by competing with them for food, apart from that they do no harm. and they're so cute

Squalid
Nov 4, 2008



nankeen posted:

sparrows are nice because they're gentle. the only way they hurt other birds is by competing with them for food, apart from that they do no harm. and they're so cute

aaah you sound so innocent! thinking nature could ever be gentle. No, sparrows look innocent because they mostly compete with other birds out of sight of humans. The principle object of these contests is good nesting sites.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-Ih_-7ovL8

a beak built for cracking seed cases is just as good at cracking skulls, and sparrows are ruthless when its time to nest. That often means killing competitors and smashing eggs.

They aren't particularly violent in this regard, most song birds will kill nestlings and haze competitors away from nests in the season. For a lot of species access to good nesting sites is much more scarce than food, so nest boxes are always a good way to attract spring time visitors.

edit: when selecting a box you should consider what species exactly you are targeting. To exclude house sparrows you need box with an opening no greater than 1 1/2 inches. Install something larger and you might find yourself with a resident family of house sparrows and a little pile of dead native nestlings underneath

Squalid fucked around with this message at 04:55 on Jun 2, 2019

Reiterpallasch
Nov 3, 2010



Fun Shoe

i am swimming in bird poo poo all over everything please send help

Internet Explorer
Jun 1, 2005


Reiterpallasch posted:

i am swimming in bird poo poo all over everything please send help

Sup. I pray for rain every day.

nankeen
Mar 20, 2019

by Cyrano4747


Reiterpallasch posted:

i am swimming in bird poo poo all over everything please send help
you are blessed

Internet Explorer
Jun 1, 2005


Internet Explorer posted:

My understanding was that they kind of come and go, not camping any one spot fit more than 2-3 weeks. Is that not the case? Have a pair of them that discovered my feeder about a week ago. As long as it's just 2, I'm fine with it, but research says they don't stick around long.

Posting 3 weeks later to say that the Grackles are multiplying and they are eating me out of house and home. Tried making some adjustments, but they are clever and persistent.

Bi-la kaifa
Feb 4, 2011

Space maggots.



A group of house sparrows are making a mockery of my feeders by just chucking all the seed to the ground. I want them to go away but the spot is still attracting a lot of different species so I'm just going to hope they go away. Maybe go back to black oil sunflower seeds.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Internet Explorer posted:

Posting 3 weeks later to say that the Grackles are multiplying and they are eating me out of house and home. Tried making some adjustments, but they are clever and persistent.

Grackles are pests. Whenever I've gotten flocks of grackles doing that, I've found the only recourse is to straight up stop feeding the birds for a month or two.

More worryingly, lately I've started seeing outright mice (or some kind of small brown rodent) in the yard eating seeds that have been knocked to the ground. I think I'll have to stop feeding again, I do not want mice potentially getting into the house.

Squalid
Nov 4, 2008



i'm sure nobody is interested in doing this but if you're really sick of house sparrows and grackles it is legal to trap and remove them.

flakeloaf
Feb 26, 2003

Still better than android clock



Squalid posted:

i'm sure nobody is interested in doing this but if you're really sick of house sparrows and grackles it is legal to trap and remove them.

It doesn't appear that grackles are "migratory birds" within the meaning of the Convention, but you definitely wanna run that past a log-and-frog officer before you start harassing them. Bird law is hard.

Sorry in advance if you are a bird lawyer and/or a log and frog officer.

e: reading is harder, apparently; my dumb rear end

quote:

Other Migratory Nongame Birds

flakeloaf fucked around with this message at 14:41 on Jun 19, 2019

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Fitzy Fitz
May 14, 2005






They're protected by it: https://www.fws.gov/birds/management/managed-species/migratory-bird-treaty-act-protected-species.php

I don't know if the US and Canada keep the same list or not, but tbh I'm not aware of any birds, barring non-natives, that aren't protected.

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