Monday, March 12, 2012

Waiting For The Birds

Ava first noticed birds in books. She'd point to them and her mom would flap her arms and say, "bird," which must have amused Ava thoroughly because she continued to point to birds everywhere else, from videos to patches on a homemade quilt. In the last few weeks when we leave the house, she looks to the sky and absolutely beams every time she sees a bird. Well, we decided a bird feeder is a must, so we got one today. This spot for the feeder is about six feet off the ground, hanging from the garden lattice.
It's a temporary location because I want to move it near the living room window where Ava can get a closer look from the comfort of the couch. Also, it's not in the most ideal place for keeping away squirrels and other like-minded bandits. Next, we need to get a bird book so we can identify who we're looking at. Any other amateur bird-watchers out there? Have some tips?

22 comments:

Leah J. Utas said...

Have you got some trees handy? Or a good overhang on your house? Birds like cover. We used to feed them and they'd sit a close by tree and wait until it was safe.
Check out the Peterson Field Guides for identifying them.
There's a website I don't recall offhand that provides their calls as well as identifying info.
Also, water. Birds love to bathe.

Leah J. Utas said...

Found it.

www.enature.com/birding/audio.asp

Elisabeth Grace Foley said...

A metal shepherd's hook is great for hanging a bird feeder. You can put that pretty much anywhere you want. It won't keep the squirrels off - nothing does - but then you'll get some additional fun out of watching them go up and down it like a fire pole and take the occasional crash landing from the roof of the feeder. :)

We use plain black oil sunflower seed - peskier birds like house sparrows aren't attracted to that as much, and the nicest kinds, like cardinals, chickadees, etc., love it. Chickadees are the cutest, friendliest little birds around - you can get them to eat out of your hand with some time and patience. Just involves standing there till they get up the nerve to land on your hand.

David Cranmer said...

We have many trees and maybe I could move it to one of those tomorrow. I was planning on placing the feeder on a pole outside our living room window and there wouldn't be any cover. Maybe I will think of something different. And a great link, Leah. Thank you!

*

A metal shepherd's hook! Great idea, Elisabeth. And the added fun of the little firemen is a bonus. :) My daughter would love to have a Chickadee land in the palm of her hand!

Naomi Johnson said...

If you go the shepherd's hook route and squirrels become a problem, try getting a metal Slinky (if you can find one!) and arrange it so the pole of the shepherd's hook runs through the center of the Slinky. This can discourage the wee rodents sometimes, as well as make for great amusement on the part of human observers. Squirrels pretty much will eat any type of bird feed EXCEPT safflower seed, which happens to be a favorite of the cardinals.

Also, somebody suggested a field guide. Yes. They aren't cheap, but you'll be surprised how much you use one.

G. B. Miller (aka G) said...

I used to keep my smack dab in the center of the front yard on a gnarly looking tree.

Was in a perfect place as you could see the birds from the front window, the front porch, or the sitting on the grass in the front yard.

Randy Johnson said...

My sister's more the expert on this sort of thing than myself. She has a couple of bird feeders that discourage the many squirrels in the area by a weight system that pulls the opening closed when the heftier rodents gets aboard and, as one other mentions, provides endless amusement for watchers as they try to figure a way in.

Dave King said...

Ah, those were the days! I remember them well! Enjoy, my friend, enjoy them all you can.

David Cranmer said...

Naomi, I'm hearing a lot about safflower seed but you are the first to mention the slinky defense. :) I like that and is probably better than Concertina wire.

G, we're looking to get as close to the window as possible and I might buy one of those suction devices (mentioned above) to attach directly to the window. Maybe leave the main feeder in the front yard like you suggested.

Randy, They had those weight controlled feeders at my local Agway. I was considering buying one but liked the traditional looking houses best. Maybe that was a mistake.

Everyday is an adventure, Dave.

eleanor said...

There are iPhone apps, but despite having both the Peterson app and book, my skills are along the lines of "Oh look! It's a bird!" In terms of placement, I recommend hanging a feeder from a second floor window. Hard for squirrels and birds will still perch. Of course, that doesn't help us with the seagulls that sometimes chase the little birds away.

Charles Gramlich said...

As soon as the squirrels discover that they'll have a field day. We ended up putting big poles in the yard, well away from trees, with hanging feeders, and then racoon baffles beneath on the poles to keep the squirrels and coons from climbing up them.

Elisabeth Grace Foley said...

One of our feeders is weight-controlled, and the squirrels still manage to eat from it. First, they chewed the holes bigger so they don't close properly. Second, they don't even get on the feeder - they hang from the pole of the shepherd's hook with their hind feet. (Also, you don't want to get one that's too sensitive to weight or you'll end up keeping out some of the larger birds, like cardinals or bluejays.)

One thing we haven't got around to trying yet is a baffle, so I can't tell you from personal experience whether it works or not. I guess it depends on your squirrels.

David Cranmer said...

Eleanor, We don't have a second floor but I will remember that tip and the iPhone apps. I really have no clue on identification but Denise has a better grasp in that department and we are going to grab a book on the subject soon.

Charles, Some of these squirrel adventures I'm reading about sound like I need some moats with crocs to fend them off!

Elisabeth, I read your comment with such admiration for these little thieves. That they hang from the pole of the hook with their hind feet! I'm thinking (like others have mentioned) this squirrel watching may be as entertaining as the bird watching.

Randy Johnson said...

Here's one I forgot. My mother added a ledge outside a big picture window and keeps bird feed in it. One can be just a few feet away from the birds inside and they can't see you as the sun shines on the glass. Ava might enjoy something like that also.

Of course it doesn't discourage the squirrels at all. Ava might like that too.

Richard Prosch said...

We use the black oil sunflower seed also. The finches make a terrible mess of it on the ground, but the result is a wonderfully untamed patch of sunflowers under the feeder that we let grow as big as can be.

David Cranmer said...

Randy, We may not do the ledge but that's a terrific idea. So much resourcefulness from birdwatchers. I like that. And I think squirrels are going to end up being a bit expensive but a lot of fun her to watch.

Rich, We're going to experiment a bit with the seed. We want to attract, obviously, as many different types of feathered friends as possible.

Sarah Laurence said...

Cute story about your daughter! Yep, my first thought is you'll be feeding squirrels from that location. I love the Sibley Guide to Birds as a big reference book at home and the smaller Peterson Eastern Birds for a hike.

Mates said...

Dave,
We had a bird feeder down in the woods when we lived there and the squirrels were a riot to watch. If you look up at the top of the driveway, there is one of those pole hooks up there left from past campers. It might work for now. Ava is so amazing. I love how aware she is of her surroundings.

David Cranmer said...

Sibley Guide to Birds. Thanks, Sarah. Something tells me we will be getting this one and the other suggestions above. Thanks.

Mates, What a terrific idea! I forgot about that pole hook and maybe I can fasten it to a post to raise it up a bit.

Reb said...

Another on-line site that might be helpful is http://www.whatbird.com/

Some good suggestions on placement for you, I am sure little Ava will be happy with anything that visits the feeder.

CarrieVS said...

I know you can get free-standing stands for bird feeders that are supposedly inaccessible to squirrels. That might be worth investigating.

As for identification, I don't really have any suggestions other than to look for a good bird book. I have a pretty good one myself and it's very useful, but it's for Europe, so probably wouldn't help you much.

David Cranmer said...

Reb, You're so right about her enjoying all the visitors to the feeder. She loves them all. :)

Thank you for your tip on free-standing feeders, Carrie. Will check them out.