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View Full Version : Feeding frenzies at the bird feeders



tashirosgt
2013-Jun-28, 05:11 AM
I get a frenzied hoard of doves when I put seed in the bird feeders, which happens once in the late afternoon. Judging by Youtube videos, most people think that this is cute, but I'm not sure it's good for the birds. Can it be avoided? Would it happen if the feeders were kept full? I hate to think how much seed that would take. (The feeders get emptied in about 20 minutes.) Should I give up on feeders and only use seed bells?

slang
2013-Jun-28, 05:41 AM
*tries to forget mental image of great white sharks attacking bird feeder platform*

Never have that problem here, we got one pair of doves around, and they approach the feeder very slowly and carefully. Of course we also have cats. Who catch birds, and do that well.. :/

BigDon
2013-Jun-28, 09:03 AM
I want to post so badly right now, but it's 2 AM local and I have to go to sleep.

I'll tell it tomorrow.

tashirosgt
2013-Jun-28, 02:45 PM
Never have that problem here, we got one pair of doves around, and they approach the feeder very slowly and carefully. Of course we also have cats. Who catch birds, and do that well.. :/

Here, about 30 white winged doves jostle each other at feeding time. Some of them are content to feed from the seeds falling to the ground. The feeders are in the front yard and the cat prefers the backyard. I like that aspect of the situation.

Buttercup
2013-Jun-28, 02:51 PM
We used to keep a bird feeder. :hand:

I don't mind feeding hungry critters, but gee...the entire generous amount of seed was gone in 4 hours. We can't afford to keep that thing filled. :(

BigDon
2013-Jun-28, 06:22 PM
You don't have to keep them filled! There are two ways to do the feeder thing.

Ol' Weird Bob fills his twice a day and that's all they get, and he has wonderful experiences. His breakfast/dinner table is beside a large window, which had mirroring placed on the outside of it, and he keeps a platform feeder just outside of it.

I kept my feeders full and had some wonderful experiences as well.

On average I would go through forty pounds of sunflower seed a month. Plus other incidentals like peanuts for the smaller corvids like the Stellar and scrub jays and humming bird chow and the cost worked out to 60 to 80 dollars a month. I live smack in the middle of the Pacific coast flyway, one of the world's major bird migration routes, so sometimes demand was heavier. Excuse me, I just recalled I should say "we" as my older brother helped me with the cost.

I had these feeders that were gradiated so one inch equaled a pound of sunflower seed, and they held eight pounds. During the fall migration south this flock of songbirds so huge showed up that they were emptying three feeders at the rate of a pound a minute! They then would leave and come back in the evening.

I was happy to do so because I figured they *needed* it. This flock hung around for two days. (My parent's house is perched high on a terraced hill so I can watch wheeling flocks from a long way off.)

Now I can vouch for what researchers on Guam are finding out. The more birds you have in the area, the less spiders you have in the area. It's a direct correlation. This might help with any reservations one would have at the cost.

I recall the first day I met the local male scrub jay, a smallish blue and grey species of crow. About a third larger than a robin. Due to their large size relative to most songbirds and their theropod like intelligence they will dominate the feeder, but only during certain time periods! If you are a once or twice a day feeder, and you are consistent, the birds will quickly figure out the schedule and form a time-share. All by themselves.

Anywho, (I say that now just to cheese off the autocorrect), I was mowing the lawn one day and had to get the swath between a tree on the property and the fence and nearly walked face first into an argiope a little smaller than my hand. It alerted me to its presence by violently shaking its web to get my attention. (Only the species that see real well do this.)

Jiminy Crickets! But I have a treaty with them. If they build their webs off of a travelled route I won't seek them out for destruction. I can't see killing spiders, just because, when we have a West Nile virus issue, which is spread by mosquitoes. Especially ones civil enough to warn you that you're about to blunder into their webs.

After mowing under her web using the really long arms technique I finished up and putting the mower away the scrub jay landed on the fence. He leaned forward, seized the spider in his beak, placed it under his foot and then snapped it in half at the abdomen. He ate the front part first so the legs when down trailing, then he ate the abdomen.

He was instantly my friend. I kept him, and later his family, around with peanuts in the shell. They didn't seem to recognize unshelled peanuts for what they were.

Trebuchet
2013-Jun-28, 07:25 PM
Here's what I get at the feeder. (http://cosmoquest.org/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=18517&d=1371428453)

BigDon
2013-Jun-29, 12:26 AM
Treb, we get skunks, which were after the mice, which were after the fallen seed. (We have plenty of raccoons, they just have better prospects than bird feeders.)

Skunks are surprisingly efficient mousers but go about it differently than cats. Skunks hunting mice in lawn grass pop up and pile drive the mouse into the ground with their forelegs, stiff-armed. Like foxes hunting lemmings under the snow.

We have at least three different kinds of skunks locally. Two of the species are smallish and really cute.

I have more but I have to go to the store and buy something for dinner.

Later everybody.

Jim
2013-Jun-29, 01:23 AM
We have a woodpecker. He pecked out a couple of nests, one in a now-dead silver maple and another in the neighbor's willow. He'll come by our backyard to feed on the peanuts, suet and seed I put out. I enjoy watching him from the window and, one time, from a lawn chair just ten feet away.

Today the BW noticed a string of sawdust along the bottom 2x4 of a cedar fence along the patio. The blankety-blank woodpecker had pecked a hole in the underside of the top 2x4. Ungrateful little ...

Swift
2013-Jun-29, 02:20 AM
We have a woodpecker. He pecked out a couple of nests, one in a now-dead silver maple and another in the neighbor's willow. He'll come by our backyard to feed on the peanuts, suet and seed I put out. I enjoy watching him from the window and, one time, from a lawn chair just ten feet away.

Today the BW noticed a string of sawdust along the bottom 2x4 of a cedar fence along the patio. The blankety-blank woodpecker had pecked a hole in the underside of the top 2x4. Ungrateful little ...
We have a heavily wooded lot and get all the local kinds of woodpeckers. But we do have the occasional problem of them making holes in our siding, which is cedar. They aren't looking for insects, as best as I can tell, they are mostly doing it for the noise - woodpecker males will use the sound to claim a territory. The most fun is when they decide to do it on the metal chimney cap or metal flashing around the base of the chimney - wow, does that make a lot of noise.

One trick to keep them off the siding is to tack little strips of aluminum foil to the area they are pecking on. It seems the flashing of the foil in the wind spooks them. I've done this many times.

BigDon
2013-Jun-30, 10:27 PM
Swift, I have a friend who has a house up in gold country that's being torn down by woodpeckers. I'll pass that tidbit along.

We have small sapsuckers that freak out whenever the city does jackhammer work and then they have to reply by banging on those metal, angled supports for the crosspieces you see on the taller telephone poles.

Yes, woodpeckers on metal are LOUD and they do it on purpose.

Swift
2013-Jul-01, 01:35 AM
Swift, I have a friend who has a house up in gold country that's being torn down by woodpeckers. I'll pass that tidbit along.
There is also a commercial material, for this purpose (often called Bird Scare Tape (http://www.groworganic.com/bird-scare-tape-rainbow-500-roll.html)) that is a metalized plastic strip. It works a little better than aluminum foil - a little stronger and flutters a little more. I wish your friend luck.

NEOWatcher
2013-Jul-01, 03:01 PM
Two of the species are smallish and really cute.
Around here, they are quite smellish and lumbering.


I can tell, they are mostly doing it for the noise - woodpecker males will use the sound to claim a territory. The most fun is when they decide to do it on the metal chimney cap or metal flashing around the base of the chimney - wow, does that make a lot of noise.
I guess that explains the woodpecker I had several years back. It was pecking at the aluminum siding.

ToSeek
2013-Jul-01, 03:36 PM
We've spent almost as much on birdseed this year as we have on cat food. And we have four cats, one of which is diabetic and needs a special (expensive, of course) diet.

NEOWatcher
2013-Jul-01, 05:41 PM
We've spent almost as much on birdseed this year as we have on cat food. And we have four cats, one of which is diabetic and needs a special (expensive, of course) diet.
That wouldn't be surprising if your cat is on an avian diet.

Swift
2013-Jul-01, 06:09 PM
We've spent almost as much on birdseed this year as we have on cat food. And we have four cats, one of which is diabetic and needs a special (expensive, of course) diet.
I figure my birdseed expense as more of paying the bill for kitty TV (they love to sit and watch the bird feeders).

Trebuchet
2013-Jul-01, 11:53 PM
I just spent more than US$50 for a couple of metal cans to keep the birdseed in, so the mice don't get it before I put it out for the raccoon. They've been chewing at the top of the plastic buckets; hadn't quite gotten in but were very close. There's now a special treat for them (D-Con) in the plastic bucket.

BigDon
2013-Jul-03, 03:24 PM
I just spent more than US$50 for a couple of metal cans to keep the birdseed in, so the mice don't get it before I put it out for the raccoon. They've been chewing at the top of the plastic buckets; hadn't quite gotten in but were very close. There's now a special treat for them (D-Con) in the plastic bucket.

I may be telling you something you already know, but d-con and similar poison baits work much, much better if you place a dish or saucer of water right beside the bait. I was a greenhouseman for a number of years and I dealt with major mouse invasions AND a marauding band of wharf rats with a taste for the inter-leaf stems of pothos vines. (This particular greenhouse was the only greenhouse I ever heard of where we weren't permitted to keep a cat.)

The poison makes the rats thirsty and they will leave the bait to get a drink, sometimes getting sick but not dying and not coming back to the bait. The dish of water right beside the bait means the rats or mice will stay much longer and gorge on the bait. I've seen big Norway/wharf/grey (same animal) rats eat enough bait to die right at the scene. (Which is gross, as they hemorrhage out through their keisters.) Often with their faces still in or near the water dish.

Jim
2013-Jul-03, 06:10 PM
I just spent more than US$50 for a couple of metal cans to keep the birdseed in, so the mice don't get it before I put it out for the raccoon. They've been chewing at the top of the plastic buckets; hadn't quite gotten in but were very close. There's now a special treat for them (D-Con) in the plastic bucket.

Yeah ... I bought two 40gal galvanized steel garbage cans, $9.99 each.