With the right feeder setup, winter can be one of the best — and coziest — seasons for bird watching.
You can read all about Adirondack birds here, and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology has put together this list of articles on bird feeding how, why, and what to dos:
- Best feeder? Here’s how to choose.
- Which foods? Favorite foods of many common species.
- Bird food basics. A guide to the main types of bird food.
- Water. It’s easy to offer a birdbath, even in winter.
- Sanitation. How and how often to clean your feeders.
- Survival. How do birds survive frigid temperatures?
- Squirrels? Top 9 squirrel strategies.
- Who’s the boss? When 136 species show up at a feeder, which one wins?
- Why do we feed birds anyway? A Q&A with experts.
You can make your backyard birds count by joining Project FeederWatch this winter. You’ll have more fun with your feeders — and help scientists keep track of changes in bird populations.
Photo of Tutfted Titmouse by Nicolas Main/Macaulay Library.
A few years ago, someone told me a great way to keep squirrels from climbing the pole up to our bird feeder: attach a Slinky to the pole so that it hangs loosely. I will admit that one squirrel was smart enough to climb up inside the Slinky. Fortunately, he eventually went away — maybe caught by our local red-tailed hawk.
I really don’t understand why so many people seem to resent feeding squirrels. Are they not God’s creatures also, and in need of sustenance during the cold weather? The three in my backyard do no harm and there is enough for them and the birds, too. All are welcome at my house, including the skunk and the possum who pick up the sunflower seeds dropped by the birds.
I don’t mind squirrels eating dropped seed, but both raccoons and squirrels can ruin most types of feeders – and that gets expensive. So if you put up feeders in areas that have both, make sure your feeder is metal and cannot be chewed through. It should also be able to withstand the full weight of a raccoon hanging on it and trying to rip it apart.
Fortunately, Boreas, that big ol’ raccoon that used to hang out at our place has moved on. Most of our seed feeders are hanging from a cable stretched between two big fir trees, and the only standing metal feeder has a low roof that won’t accommodate anything bigger than a squirrel. The possum occasionly pulls down the suet feeder, which hangs from a limb, and eats the whole thing in one night. (We are fortunate to be near Ocean State Job Lots, where all sorts of bird food and suet cakes are cheap.) We put a dish of food and a heated water bowl on the front steps for whomever may come by after dark–sometimes a little grey fox. The deer eating our vegetable garden, now, that’s another problem–come Spring, we’re putting in a fence. They eat everything, except zucchini!
Raccoons discovered my hummingbird feeders this year. What a mess! Climbed up the wooden porch posts smearing them with their muddy feet. Luckily my feeders are made of glass and metal so they didn’t destroy them, but rather kept knocking them down to lick up the sugar water off of the floor, which of course the ants also enjoyed. They may be diabetic now…
Love your response about squirrels!