For The Answer
Weekly Express-News Article
By Calvin R. Finch, PhD, SAWS Water Resources Director, and Horticulturist
It is the time of the year to consider feeding the birds again. They probably do not need our seed and suet to survive, but it is fun to be able to observe them at the feeders.
To enhance the bird feeding experience, there are several things to consider.
· Place the feeder where it is easy to observe. Outside windows with a view from the kitchen table or sink where you spend time are ideal. It is also great to be able to sit on the patio and watch the action.
· Place the feeders so they are easy to access for cleaning and filling. It becomes a real burden to service the feeder if you have to climb a ladder to fill it.
· Select feeders that maximize easy access for your favorite species and discourage less desirable birds such as grackles. Squirrels are a special problem because they chew up wood feeders. Use the steel feeders with weight-sensitive perches to reduce access by the heavy consumers such as white-winged doves.
· Select the seed based on what birds you want to attract. Sunflower seeds are the most popular seeds. They attract cardinals, inca doves, chicadees, titmice, American sparrows, and jays. Goldfinches eat sunflower seeds, but they especially like thistle seed which is not a favorite of other species. Safflower seed is a favorite cardinal food, but is passed up by squirrels.
· Feed suet to attract the insect eaters. Woodpeckers, kinglets, chicadees, wrens, and starlings are especially fond of suet blocks, but even some warblers will show up at the suet feeder.
· Many birds also like fruit. Apples, oranges, grapes, bananas, and other fruits that are past their prime will attract orioles, tanagers, cardinals, house finches, and woodpeckers.
· Ground feeding doves, towhees, thrashers, and sparrows like scratch grain, millet, and sunflower seeds, but so do rodents. Feed seed on low platforms and only leave enough seed to last until early afternoon to discourage night feeding rodents.
· Hummingbirds will sometimes stay in our neighborhood until mid-winter. Your sugar water feeder won’t change the birds migration plans, but may extend the period that you and your family can enjoy observing their antics. Keep the feeders available until Christmas.
Water can be very important to wintering birds in
While we are on
the topic of attracting birds, consider visiting the
One of the many events at the Fall Festival is the Hummingbird and Butterfly Garden Raffle. The main prizes are two custom built gardens on the site of your choice. The prize includes a design that you approve, plants, mulch, and compost, planting, and drip irrigation.
Buy the raffle tickets for $2 each or six for $10 at Milberger’s, Fanick’s, Keller Material, Fertile Garden Supply, Green Haven Industries, Garden Ville, Allied Feed, Coopers (Floresville), Burns Nursery, Rainbow Gardens (Bandera), Rainbow Gardens (Thousand Oaks), Lockhill Feed, Antique Rose Emporium, Birds Unlimited, Curious Naturalist (Schertz), and R&R Tractor (Boerne). You do not have to be present to win.