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Regular Contributor
Posts: 157
Registered: ‎08-26-2015

What's the best way to feed birds and fury friends during winter months?

In our new condo, I really enjoy sitting in my chair in the livingroom, which gives me a great view of our small garden through a 15" wide x 8' tall window.  We have various kinds of birds, grey squirrels, and yes, brown rats, which my husband is going to do away with.  Personally, I don't want to see those cute dead rats, as my first pet with an albino rat from the research labs at UCSF.  We also have racoons and really big hawks.

 

I'd like to place food outside for the birds and squirrels during the winter months.  Should I have DH build a platform?  We don't have a tree to help fashion anything, but do have fence on 2 sides.  Also, what's the best thing to feed them in the winter?

 

I know this can be googled, but have found your advice has a great chance of being spot on.

 

(BTW, we are located in the Pacific Northwest.  Temps can get down to single digits, but not often.  Mostly high teens/twenties and 30s and mid-40s.  We are wet with rain, but do ice up and occasionally have snow.  This year they are predicting more than normal amonts of snow.)

 

Thanks so much for your help! ~Rebecca

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Honored Contributor
Posts: 11,409
Registered: ‎03-11-2010

Re: What's the best way to feed birds and fury friends during winter months?

[ Edited ]

DH made a couple of feeders that look like these to put on the fence for corn. You can also hang bird feeders on those black wrought iron poles used to hang hanging baskets on. My dad told me bird food has quite a bit of Millet in it. He said the birds don't care for that so check the ingredients.

 

 

 

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Respected Contributor
Posts: 4,123
Registered: ‎03-16-2010

Re: What's the best way to feed birds and fury friends during winter months?

Sunflower seed is loved by all of those critters you mention, except for the "really big hawks", which will try to dine on your birds and squirrels.  It's true that the cheapest bird food has mostly millet in it and the only birds I know of that will eat that are doves. 

 

Shepherds hooks are great for hanging bird feeders if you want an immediate or temporary feeding station, plus they can be moved if you like.  Different birds prefer different types of feeders, so it depends on what type you want to attract.  Smaller birds may feel intimidated by the larger ones, so you may want to put feeders for them in one spot and the larger ones in another area.  The squirrels will get into pretty much any type of bird feeder, unless it's specifically designed to keep them out.  Also, the raccoons, while cute, may quickly become destructive, so you may want to consider that.

 

Also, living in a condo you must be concerned about your neighbors.  Feeding the birds is not something that everyone enjoys.  They do make a mess, and the seed hulls can quickly build up on the ground.  Feeding attracts not only raccoons, but those rats your husband wants to do away with, which also will attract snakes.  Just something for you to consider, if you haven't already.

 

You may want to start with one or two feeders and see what happens.  Once the critters know you have food always available, they'll show up in droves. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 6,670
Registered: ‎03-09-2010

Re: What's the best way to feed birds and fury friends during winter months?

@sfnative, it's nice that you are getting settled in your new home and even nicer that you have some feathered friends!!!

 

If you do have rats, I would not start to feed the birds until they are gone.  You will have to be careful that you don't entice them back with food.  When we buy feeders, we look for the ones that have squirrel guards as the squirrels can make quite a dent in the food.  Having said that, I have had many feeders that the squirrels have vanquished.  They are persistent and agile so it takes a lot to deter them.

 

For the smaller birds like chickadees, you can get feeders that attach to your window with suction cups and the birds will come right there to feed.  It's lovely to see.  Many of them are clear plastic so you can watch them closely.  

 

You may want to check if there is a local store that sells supplies for feeding birds.  They will have some recommendations I'm sure.  LM

Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 6,670
Registered: ‎03-09-2010

Re: What's the best way to feed birds and fury friends during winter months?


@geezerette wrote:

Sunflower seed is loved by all of those critters you mention, except for the "really big hawks", which will try to dine on your birds and squirrels.  It's true that the cheapest bird food has mostly millet in it and the only birds I know of that will eat that are doves. 

 

Shepherds hooks are great for hanging bird feeders if you want an immediate or temporary feeding station, plus they can be moved if you like.  Different birds prefer different types of feeders, so it depends on what type you want to attract.  Smaller birds may feel intimidated by the larger ones, so you may want to put feeders for them in one spot and the larger ones in another area.  The squirrels will get into pretty much any type of bird feeder, unless it's specifically designed to keep them out.  Also, the raccoons, while cute, may quickly become destructive, so you may want to consider that.

 

Also, living in a condo you must be concerned about your neighbors.  Feeding the birds is not something that everyone enjoys.  They do make a mess, and the seed hulls can quickly build up on the ground.  Feeding attracts not only raccoons, but those rats your husband wants to do away with, which also will attract snakes.  Just something for you to consider, if you haven't already.

 

You may want to start with one or two feeders and see what happens.  Once the critters know you have food always available, they'll show up in droves. 

 

 

 

 @geezerette, writing at the same time😀!!!  Good advice about being considerate of condo neighbors.  In addition to the mess, birds can be noisy especially early in the morning.  Some people hate that.  Go slow is the answer in introducing feeders.  Get some feedback to see if it's an issue with neighbor's Rebecca.  Maybe you are lucky and have a wall not connected to someone else.  That would be a good location if you have a window.  LM

 

 


 

Respected Contributor
Posts: 4,781
Registered: ‎04-14-2013

Re: What's the best way to feed birds and fury friends during winter months?

[ Edited ]

I am an avid bird watcher, and live amongst mature woods with lots of squirrels, hawks, bears, tons of bird species - and I'm sure there must be rats and mice.  The hawks provide control for the rats.

 

Anyway, I swear by suet (rendered fat, usually impregnated with some seed).  Realtively no mess, relatively cheap, and all the birds in the yard seem to dine on it, and the squirrels gnaw on it (I do have to take it in at night or Mr. Bear steals it).  Since I live in a squrrel highway, I don't put plain seed out anymore.  They'll clean you out quickly.

 

When I lived in close quarters with neighbors, I would use a "tube" feeder with hulled sunflower seed (no mess under the feeder).  Another option is thistle seed.  You can buy a simple "sock" for it.  Finches, chickadees, siskens like it, and the tiny seeds, as they fall to the ground, are eaten by mourning doves.  Maybe you just screw a hook into the fence post and hang your feeder.  I like a seed tray on the tube feeder - less waste, and it becomes another perch for birds to use.

 

Bah humbug to those who do not like to hear bird song in the morning!  Maybe the birds would rather not hear revving car engines, either!

 

I just thought of something - water is essential to good bird feeding.  Even if you find the feeders impratical (or someone objects - ugh), a small fountain or basin for fresh water will be enjoyed by birds, and it could be incorporated as an "aesthetic" feature on the patio.  Just keep it fresh.  In the winter a de-icer is nice but that requires a power source.  I just go out regularly with hot hot hot tap water when the landscape is frigid.

Birds are time, flying
Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 6,670
Registered: ‎03-09-2010

Re: What's the best way to feed birds and fury friends during winter months?

@Sweetbay magnolia, are you my neighbor😀.  Sounds very similar to my place.  I so agree with you on the sound of birds in the morning.  I stopped using my iPod on walks to hear the birds.  Music to my ears.  Have to say, not everyone agrees.  LM

 

 

Honored Contributor
Posts: 15,369
Registered: ‎03-09-2010

Re: What's the best way to feed birds and fury friends during winter months?

You can buy suet with hot pepper powder mixed into it-- this prevents any mammals from gnawing on it.

 

I like the Droll Yankees tube feeders and they can be put on poles and hammered into the ground before the ground freezes (if it does in your area).

 

A water source is most important with a deicer plugged into some GFI outlet outside. I use a large plastic saucer that is about 2" deep and about 16" wide. If you get snow- put a brick below the saucer to raise it above the ground level (if desired). Make sure to add water every day as it will either evaporate or be drunk by the birds and other animals.

 

 

☼The best place to seek God is in a garden. You can dig for him there. GBShaw☼
Honored Contributor
Posts: 8,490
Registered: ‎03-15-2014

Re: What's the best way to feed birds and fury friends during winter months?

You have rats?!  That's not good.  My condo association tells us that bird feeders attract unwanted varmints - squirrels, chipmunks, mice, rabbits, etc. - and, if we insist on them, they should be placed well away from the building where they won't do damage.  I think it's good advice, especially since I garden.. This year, a rabbit did considerable damage in my flower gardens.

Honored Contributor
Posts: 35,526
Registered: ‎03-10-2010

Re: What's the best way to feed birds and fury friends during winter months?

[ Edited ]

I would not feed the animals.  You can feed the birds and fight with the squirrels over the bird food.  If you invite other animals, you're just inviting trouble.  They will make pests of themselves and can cause damage to your property.  You will become very unpopular with your neighbors.  Nobody wants mice, rats and raccoons in the neighborhood.  I didn't realize how many critters visit bird feeders until I saw footprints in the snow under the feeder I had briefly.  Another thing you're likely to attract are skunks.  We have them in my neighborhood and sometimes the smell is so potent,it wakes me up at night.

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