People flocked to the DNR Amphitheater on Thursday to learn how to attract everything from a Chipping Sparrow to a Goldfinch to their backyard. Brian Cunningham from Wild Birds Unlimited a nature shop that strives to “bring people and nature together” offered tips on what types of feeders to use along with giving the crowd insight into certain bird’s habits.
To build an ideal habitat Cunningham suggests four main components to satisfy the bird’s needs which include food, water, shelter and a nesting place. Feeders can come in many different forms and Wild Birds Unlimited seems to have them all from the versatile Dinner Bell™ feeder to the EcoTough™ Tail Prop Suet Feeder. The Dinner Bell™ feeder, which seems to be the most practical and versatile, is a clear plastic feeder with a tray that can be used to put any type of feed in like seed, fruit or worms. Above the tray is an adjustable plastic cover suspended by a metal rod in the middle. The rod can hold seed and suet stackables while the top plastic shield provides protection for the bird.
Since birds feed in different ways, it is always a good idea to investigate what types of birds are in your area and buy a feeder to attract those birds. For example, some birds are ground feeders while others like to eat from a perch. Buying a feeder that allows some seeds to drop to the ground can attract a variety of birds. Since over 90% of a bird’s feather is made up of protein, birds usually look for heavy seeds with high oil content, keeping the food fresh is ideal. When a habitat is first started it may take the birds anywhere from a few days to a month to find the feeder, filling it with only a little feed at first can help keep the food fresh.
Goldfinch, unlike many birds are vegetarian, therefore they nest later in the year when berries are more plentiful to feed their young. A spurt of these birds can be seen at feeders in the late summer months as they gather protein for their young.
Since hummingbirds drink nectar special feeders are designed to hold the nectar. Hummingbirds learn that red flowers produce the most nectar therefore they are drawn to red feeders. Cunningham explained that buying a red feeder can be healthier for the bird rather than using red dye which could potentially harm the bird. Sugar water is commonly used as the nectar. Many times people boil the sugar water to prolong its life, but hummingbirds prefer straight sugar water with four parts water and one part sugar. To keep ants out of the sugar water, an ant moat is installed into many hummingbird feeders that traps the ants and keeps them from reaching the sugar. Cunningham explained a sly trick to keep the bees away. Simply move the feeder about a foot away. Since bees send out a scout bee to find a food source and then tell the other bees the exact coordinate of that source, the bees will go to the old location of the feeder until they discover the new location.
While attracting birds, other unwanted animals can also be attracted to the feeders. Raccoon and squirrel baffles can be bought through Wild Birds Unlimited to keep them from climbing the poles of hanging feeders. Cages can be bought for feeders as well.
For an online bird guide or to buy Wild Bird Unlimited products visit www.wbu.com.