Saturday, November 17, 2012

Improving Your Bird Knowledge

If you would like to take photos of birds that you see around your home, there are several things you can do to improve your chances.  Attracting them by putting out a feeder is probably the primary one. I would suggest situating a feeder near some bushes, which the birds can use as protection if they need to hide quickly. They will be much more relaxed if they know there is a place close by where they can escape from danger.

The second consideration would be to erect it in a place that can be easily viewed from a window. Our feeder is sixteen feet straight out the kitchen window, hanging on the edge of the deck. Since we spend so much time in the kitchen, it becomes very easy to take a moment to frequently watch the interaction of the birds. You can learn a lot about bird species in this way and it is in small bites. After a while, you realize you have gained a great deal of personal knowledge about different birds and you didn't have to read about them.

We feed birds year-round, not just in winter. This requires a commitment to not let the feeder run out of seed.  I think there are good reasons to feed birds even in times of plenty.  When food is plentiful, the feeder is there as a backup and may add variety to their diet.  During the nesting season, many parents introduce their young to the feeder where they know they can always find food if their own skills are not yet adequate.  Plus, the young quickly acclimate to the feeder and incorporate visits into their routine.

I don't use a standard blend of seeds.  Most blends use a lot of millet as filler. There are some birds that eat millet, but you will always have an excess.  Instead, I buy straight varieties of sunflower, millet, pumpkin, and a blend of seeds and fruits attractive to woodpeckers, and blend these together.  Two cups of sunflower seed, 1/2 cup millet, a small handful of pumpkin and the same with the woodpecker blend. Repeat until your container is full. Sunflower seeds make up the majority of the mix, but sunflower is also the most popular seed among the majority of birds.

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