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Bird Feeder Buying Guide

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A great way to observe our feathery flying friends is with a birdfeeder. There are many different types of birdfeeders, but can be divided into two categories; selective and nonselective. Platform and trey feeders would be considered nonselective as they allow any size bird to feed. Selective feeders allow only smaller species of birds to feed through smaller, limited feed openings. This is important to consider as it will limit the size of the species you attract to your feeder.

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Placement

When considering placement of your birdfeeder there are several things to keep in mind. It is ideal to place your feeder in a quiet area that is easily seen yet provides some natural cover. Shrubs, bushes and other types of foliage are ideal in near proximity. However, be mindful of overhanging branches and limbs as squirrels will try to take advantage of your feeder.

Be mindful of placing your feeder close or far from a window as this possess a potential hazard for birds. It is estimated that window strikes kill millions of birds each year. The reflection of the window tricks the birds into thinking there is a pathway through the window. Feeders should be placed at least 30 feet from a window or within 2 feet of a window so birds don’t get up to flight speed before hitting a window. If you find that you have birds striking your windows often, rubbing a bar of soap on the window will work effectively to dull out the reflection.

Bird feeders will often get messy as birds tend to kick seed on the ground. Keep this in mind when considering placement as you can expect droppings, seeds, feathers and other debris in the area below your feeder.


Types of Feeders

Hopper Bird Feeder
Hopper Feeder

A hopper feeder is non-selective as it attracts and feeds many species of birds. They can be hung from branches, sheppard’s hooks, or mounted to a post or window ledge. Seed is stored at the top of the feeder and is funneled down to the bottom tray as need. The tray provides a stable perch for the birds to eat on as well as a prime viewing spot for bird watching. The drawbacks to the hopper feeder are a messy surrounding area below the birdfeeder and they can attract predator birds such as owls and hawks.

Tube Bird Feeder
Tube Feeder

A tube feeder is a selective bird feeder as it allows only smaller species of birds to feed from it. This cylinder feeder is hollow with several openings and perches along the sides to allow access to feed. The smaller size and limited perch space discourages larger more aggressive birds from feeding. Tube feeders are normally hung from sheppard’s hooks, tree branches and eaves.

Platform Bird Feeder
Platform Feeder

A platform feeder is a non-selective bird feeder as it allows almost all types of species to feed from it. This type of feeder is normally mounted on post, decks and windowsills at various heights. Because of their design platform feeders accumulate bird dropping and do need to be clean more often.

Suet Bird Feeder
Suet Feeder

The suet feeder is a selective feeder as it allows only smaller species of birds to feed from it. This cage like feeder is normally designed to be hung from sheppard’s hooks, tree branches and eaves at a height of around 5 feet. Suet is packed animal fat that provides a good source of energy.  Suet is pressed into the feeder providing a tasty meal. This type of feeder will not work with bird seed as the opening in the cage is to large and seed will fall through. This type of feeder is specific for suet feed only.


When to Feed

Feeding is year round activity but if you really want to help our feathery friends be sure to keep your feeder stocked during the winter months. During the late fall, winter and early spring snow covered ground makes foods supplies scarce making the winter months the most beneficial time for keeping your feeder stocked. Spring and fall are also great times to feed as migrating species create an opportunity to view a variety birds that may not be indigenous to your area. And although food is plentiful in the summer, birds require greater amounts of nutrition during the summer to feed their nestlings. So keep your feeder stocker year round to get the most out of it.

Bird House Buying Guide

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Selecting the right birdhouse is important to attract the types of species you’re buying a home for. Below are some factors to take into consideration to arrive at the best birdhouse for you.

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Size

Consider the size and opening of the birdhouse. The most common size entrance hole is 1.5 inches in diameter and is suitable for the majority of nesting birds while keeping invasive species such and Starlings from getting in. The inside dimensions of the birdhouse should be at least 4 inches by 4 inches to ensure ample room for fledglings to develop. Be sure that your birdhouse is at least 5 inches tall as will ensure that nestlings are not seen from the outside as this will entice predators to your birdhouse. The inside of the birdhouse should be large enough to accommodate a nest. The following table will help guide you in select the right size birdhouse for the indigenous species near you.

Species
House Floor Size (in.)
House Height (in.)
Entrance Diameter (in.)
House Placement Height (ft.)
American Robin 7x8 8 1.5 6
Barn Owl 10x18 15 1.5 12
Chickadee 4x4 8 1.4 4
Common Flicker 7x7 14 2.5 6
Fly Catcher 6x6 8 1.5 5
Nuthatches 4x4 8 1.25 5
Warbler 5x5 6 1.25 4
House Sparrow 4x4 6 2 8
Purple Martin 6x6 6 1.75 10
Titmice 4x4 10 1.25 5
Tree Swallow 5x5 6 1.25 5
Red-Head Woodpecker 6x6 12 2 10
Red-Bellied Woodpecker 6x6 12 2.5 10
Pileated Woodpecker 8x8 16 3x4 15
Hairy Woodpecker 6x6 12 1.5 8
Downy Woodpecker 4x4 8 1.25 5
Red-Tailed Hawk 24x24 Platform      
House Wren 4x4 6 1.25 12
Wood Duck 10x18 6 1.5 5
Phoebes 6x6 6 1.5 8

Maintenance

It is important to maintain a clean birdhouse. Cleaning your birdhouse will help birds ward off disease and insect infestation and should be done at least once a year. The best time to clean would be after the birds have finished breeding. Be sure NOT to disturb any nests that have eggs.  All old nests should be removed and the inside of the birdhouse should be rinsed and allowed to dry. Check over the hardware and be sure everything is in proper working order.  


Placement

While considering birdhouse placement, be mindful of several factors. First is when. It is very important to erect your birdhouse well before the breeding season begins. If you live in the south a good time to erect your box would be in February. In the northern states late March is prime. Leaving your birdhouse up all year long is also a good idea to serve as roosting sites for migratory birds during winter.

Location is important when attempting to attract the right birds. The majority of species prefer wooded and partly shady areas as opposed to open, grassy and sunny areas. If possible, mount the birdhouse with the entrance hole facing downward and away from prevailing winds to keep rain from entering the house. Do not erect your birdhouse in an area where the sun is hitting it all day as this will cause the temperature in the birdhouse to become inhospitable for nesting. If you have a feeder allow for plenty of room between the feeder and the birdhouse because nesting birds like a quiet area.

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