Thursday, April 9, 2009

Building a Bird Feeder

Yesterday was an absolutely beautiful day in Colorado Springs - crystal clear and sunny with temperatures in the mid-70's. We took the opportunity to work in the back yard and try to clean up the death left by the winter. The greys and browns are not what I got used to in Florida - but I know the yard will be completely transformed in a few weeks. We missed the crocuses as they bloomed in March - but our daffodils are about 6 inches out of the cold ground. We filled several huge trash bags with dead plants, leaves and branches.

The pond is still too cold to see if our fish made it through the winter but there is lots of evidence that the raccoons made our yard home in our absence. We had to shovel mounds of droppings in the north garden; tunnels were dug under the fence and the Bloomin House (potting shed) and all of the pond plants were knocked over.

Since we enjoyed birding so much in Florida, Bill was finally agreeable to putting bird feeders in the yard. We went to the Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop to ask lots and lots of questions and look at their feeders. Bill was concerned about the seeds sprouting weeds in the yard, attracting squirrels and encouraging the raccoons.

They were more than helpful and had answers to all our questions. First, only bird seed with shells has any chance to germinate. Their "No-Mess Blend" has seeds with shells removed so only the meat of the seed is left. We were over the first hurtle - now on to discouraging our furry friends. They recommended a squirrel and raccoon baffle. We also looked at feeders that close when anything heavier than a bird perches.

Our next stop was Home Depot where we compared prices on feeders and purchased an 8-foot, 4" by 4" stud which Bill planted 2-feet into the ground to the south of the pond. The feeders needed to be at least 8-feet away from any tree or structure (the squirrel proof zone) to keep the squirrels from jumping onto them. We then headed back to Wild Birds Unlimited to buy the baffle, feeders, hooks, accessories and, of course, food.

This is the finished project. The hooks were attached to the top of the stud and Bill added a small oak log over the hooks that we smeared with Jim's Birdacious Bark Butter. Jim is the founder of Wild Birds Unlimited and his rendered beef suet, roasted peanuts, peanut oil and corn blend is supposed to attract over 40 species of birds, including thrushes, warblers, orioles, cardinals, mockingbirds, wrens, woodpeckers, juncos, towhees and more. We also hung two feeders - a Mesh Finch Feeder filled with Nyjer (thistle) and a Dinner Bell with a Deluxe Fare Seed Cylinder. We can add more specialty feeders later.

Then we waited for the birds - and waited - and waited. Just when we were beginning to think our avian friends were boycotting our birdy food court, this pair of House Finches arrived to check out the new restaurant.

This Dark-eyed Junco also stopped by. It is estimated that there are over 2 million juncos in Colorado - the most common breeding bird in the state. They spend their winters in the foothills and plains and return to the higher elevations to nest.

It is always nice to see the Robins as they tell us Spring is near. Robins usually feed on the ground, so I do not expect to see them at the feeder. I did spread some seed on the ground by the pond for them.

Mr. Robin took a long drink of the cold water in the pond while our ceramic mother duck and her ducklings (one minus a bill) looked on.

This morning after returning from my morning work-out at the gym, I watched a squirrel try to figure out how to get to the tasty seed. I can tell you that the squirrel baffle worked! He tried everything, including climbing on the wagon and the planter boxes to contemplate a jump - but nothing worked.

I was sitting by the window in the kitchen and when the squirrel gave up trying to get to the seeds, he came over to discuss his dissatisfaction.

I think he was pleading with me to remove the baffle - but that's not going to happen.

I will keep my binoculars and camera close at hand so I can report on our furry and feathered visitors.

1 comment:

QuilterB said...

I give the squirrels three years before they figure a way into your bird feeders! It took our squirrels almost 7 years but they did it and then taught each other!