Texarkana, TX 58° Sat H 79° L 59° Sun H 80° L 58° Mon H 80° L 64° Weather Sponsored By:

When managing birdfeeders, think bird health and safety

When managing birdfeeders, think bird health and safety

February 9th, 2019 by Associated Press in Features

This Oct. 4, 2014 photo taken near Langley, Wash., shows a Northern Flicker feeding at an oversized suet feeder built especially for woodpeckers. Some birds are more aggressive eaters than others so it's wise to feed at different locations using different kinds of seeds and feeders. (Dean Fosdick via AP)

Feeding birds in winter is one of the nation's most popular wildlife-watching activities, yet many ornithologists say it's often more rewarding for people than for birds. And it might even put wild birds at risk.

"Feeding birds is not necessary for their survival except in extreme weather conditions," said Stephen Kress, vice president for bird conservation at the National Audubon Society. "Feeders can definitely help them get through that kind of weather."

Most birds are insect eaters and aren't attracted to backyard feeders. "For those birds, I recommend planting natural habitat and native plants," Kress said.

Besides, birds who do eat seed "will be more likely to come to feeders if there is some cover nearby. They'll be able to feed and dodge back into the safety of shrubbery."

The most common error people make when managing bird feeders is incorrect placement—putting them in locations where birds are frightened by foot traffic, vulnerable to predation by cats, or at risk of flying into windows.

"If a feeder is within 3 feet of a window, it's better," Kress said. "If a bird is spooked, it won't be killed when it strikes the glass. And keep your cats indoors so they can't stalk vulnerable birds and animals."

Learn which bird species frequent your area so you can avoid feeder wars and understand the pecking order.

"Some birds are more aggressive at feeders," Kress said. "Their eating habits are such that they can consume a lot and not leave much for the others."

One answer to that is to feed at multiple locations using different kinds of seeds and feeders. Nyjer seeds, for instance, attract goldfinches, while tube feeders with wire covers prevent large birds from entering.

Pay attention to seed quality and freshness. Unprotected seed left too long in feeders will turn moldy, and mold can kill foraging wildlife. Refresh your feeders every few days and clean them frequently by soaking in a solution of 10 percent bleach.

"You can feed more effectively and efficiently by using black-oil sunflower seeds, as it is the preferred seed by most feeder birds," said Adam Rohnke, a senior Extension associate at Mississippi State University. "An added benefit is reducing waste seed (on the ground) from seed mixes which can attract rodents."

"Boost the number and diversity of bird species by providing different types of feeders to resemble their natural feeding behaviors," Rohnke said in an email. "For example, ground-dwelling birds such as doves, towhees and others prefer low platform feeders because they feed on the ground."

Along with black-oil sunflower and nyjer seeds, feeder-friendly birds like suet (woodpeckers, jays, songbirds), fruit (orioles, bluebirds, waxwings) and mealworms (robins, chickadees, wrens).

Do not feed wild birds anything salty (whole peanuts, crackers, potato chips) or food that could choke them (plain bread, fats).

Provide a steady supply of clean water but shop around for shallow birdbath designs. Most are too deep for birds, Kress said.

Placing a few large stones in a birdbath can provide perches.

"Hummingbirds like to bathe in leaves, so spray large leaves to attract them," Kress said.

 

Online: For more about feeding birds, see this Stanford University fact sheet:

http://web.stanford.edu/group/stanfordbirds/text/essays/Feeding_Birds.html

Getting Started/Comments Policy

Getting started

  1. 1. If you frequently comment on news websites then you may already have a Disqus account. If so, click the "Login" button at the top right of the comment widget and choose whether you'd rather log in with Facebook, Twitter, Google, or a Disqus account.
  2. 2. If you've forgotten your password, Disqus will email you a link that will allow you to create a new one. Easy!
  3. 3. If you're not a member yet, Disqus will go ahead and register you. It's seamless and takes about 10 seconds.
  4. 4. To register, either go through the login process or just click in the box that says "join the discussion," type your comment, and either choose a social media platform to log you in or create a Disqus account with your email address.
  5. 5. If you use Twitter, Facebook or Google to log in, you will need to stay logged into that platform in order to comment. If you create a Disqus account instead, you'll need to remember your Disqus password. Either way, you can change your display name if you'd rather not show off your real name.
  6. 6. Don't be a huge jerk or do anything illegal, and you'll be fine.

Texarkana Gazette Comments Policy

The Texarkana Gazette web sites include interactive areas in which users can express opinions and share ideas and information. We cannot and do not monitor all of the material submitted to the website. Additionally, we do not control, and are not responsible for, content submitted by users. By using the web sites, you may be exposed to content that you may find offensive, indecent, inaccurate, misleading, or otherwise objectionable. You agree that you must evaluate, and bear all risks associated with, the use of the Gazette web sites and any content on the Gazette web sites, including, but not limited to, whether you should rely on such content. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you acknowledge that we shall have the right (but not the obligation) to review any content that you have submitted to the Gazette, and to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content that we determine, in our sole discretion, (a) does not comply with the terms and conditions of this agreement; (b) might violate any law, infringe upon the rights of third parties, or subject us to liability for any reason; or (c) might adversely affect our public image, reputation or goodwill. Moreover, we reserve the right to reject, delete, disable, or remove any content at any time, for the reasons set forth above, for any other reason, or for no reason. If you believe that any content on any of the Gazette web sites infringes upon any copyrights that you own, please contact us pursuant to the procedures outlined in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (Title 17 U.S.C. § 512) at the following address:

Copyright Agent
The Texarkana Gazette
15 Pine Street
Texarkana, TX 75501
Phone: 903-794-3311
Email: webeditor@texarkanagazette.com