“Sweet treats are made of these” — these are the words I think about when setting up a bird feeding station. Watching birds at a feeder is fun, especially this year as we’ve been stuck at home. It provides a much welcome respite from staring at the computer screen for hours on end.
So, when you need a break from that Zoom meeting, reports, or the next call, take a moment to look out of the window.
You can put up a feeder and voila, you are set up for hours of wild bird watching.
You may see a cardinal munching away at black oil sunflower seeds. You can spend a minute or two listening to chickadees chatting away to all their buddies.
It takes a little planning to get just the right feeder for the right birds. First, take a look at your yard. Where are the trees, the fences, the windows, and where you will be when you watch your birds? Place the feeders where you can see them.
Some squirrels will claim your feeders. If you don’t mind these animals, don’t worry about where the feeders are. But if you really just want to watch birds — here are a few tricks. Place your feeders eight feet away from the fence and trees. If there are trees all around your yard and you can not get it eight feet away, there are “baffles,” items designed to foil these unwelcome visitors. It can be as simple as a piece of plexiglass between the feeder and the tree. This needs to be loose on the wire, so when the squirrel grabs it, it spins, and the squirrel goes flying. I evaluated them year after year when I worked at Wild Birds Unlimited. One is the Sky Café Baffle. It looks like a witch’s hat. The feature that makes it work — it’s longer than the squirrel. When the pesky beast does that single toe-hold trick, he still has to let go. Then, you can watch him go flying off. Don’t worry. Squirrels are tree creatures — they get used to falling. Fighting squirrels is just part of the fun of bird feeding, trust me. They will try your patience. Just remember you are smarter than they — really!
The Sky Café baffle comes as a feeder, as well. My favorite feeder is the Squirrel Buster by Brom. It is longer than the squirrel and will close if the squirrel reaches up to it.
Here is another tip: Make sure your feeder is five feet or higher off the ground.
I like to add some sweet treats like suet to my station. Here in the Golden Isles, we do not need pure suet. I like suet dough, which is a combination of suet, cornmeal, and nuts. You can make it yourself. In fact, if you want to have a little fun this holiday season, make a sweet treat for the birds. It is simple: Get a pinecone, some peanut butter, and birdseed.
First, mix the birdseed and peanut butter. Then, spoon it on the pinecone. Tie a string around the pinecone and place it near the feeder or in a tree, you can see from your window. Then, you will have sweet treats made for your squirrels — oh, I mean your birds.