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Birds you want and other critters you don't

By Michael Tucker
Posted Monday, April 7, 2014

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Pittsboro, NC - A simple birthday request by my wife has rendered 30 years of enjoyment, frustration, challenges, and success with feeding birds. First goldfinches, then blue birds and hummingbirds.

We chose a one-sided feeder that closes itself when something too big approaches. When I used two-sided, the birds always fed from the side out of view. Squirrels eventually figure how to hang by their feet while holding the door open with one paw and scooping seeds with the other paw. I found an easy-to-make baffle that baffles squirrels, snakes, raccoons, and other critters using a sheet metal stove pipe and hardware cloth. And placing the feeder where there are no trees for squirrels to jump/fall. Our baffles have been 100% effective for more than 20 years.

This same baffle protects our blue bird houses from snakes, raccoons, and possums. We learned the hard way bird mamas and babies become food if not protected. We have since watched over 100 blue bird babies hatch and fledge. Right now is time for blue birds to set up their first nest and lay their eggs. You may see up to three broods each year.

We did not like the mess left behind when we used cheaper bird seed. Seed shells and other less desirable "fillers" are thrown on the ground building up over time allowing nothing to grow in a circle around the base of the feeder. We use a blend of "No Mess" bird seed so nothing wastes.

We like the hummingbird feeders from Wild Birds Unlimited because they offer a lifetime warranty. Please do not use artificial dyes to make your own hummingbird solution. If there is a red color on the feeder, that is sufficient to attract hummingbirds. We also found a teeny, tiny brush to clean the feeding holes in the feeders. Very helpful.

Ruby Throated humingbirds are returning now. We found hummingbirds prefer tulip poplar flowers over our home-made solution. They fly by our feeders but do not drink until the tulip poplars have stopped flowering (about the end of April).

A .22 or bird shot are effective with crows and squirrels. . .until you go back inside.

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Birds you want and other critters you don't

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