Sometimes my backyard appears to be the only diner in town. For birds, that is. I’m sure there are many other backyard feeders in my neighborhood, but you would never know it based on the quantities of visitors I have every day. My simple hopper feeder is no sooner filled than it is empty again. I see a large variety of birds eating there, as well as a few squirrels who are un-phased by the patient dog waiting nearby.
Bonnee chases birds and butterflies for fun, never catching either, but she chases squirrels with a purpose. And that purpose is to feel their furry bodies in her mouth and to shake them by the tail as they scream in distress. She watches them with an intensity rivaled only by dinner-time stare-downs, but they either remain generally oblivious to the danger, or they taunt her from 30 feet up. If I’m outside, I break up this game immediately. I’ve heard squirrels scream, remember? And it’s awful.
But Bonnee and the squirrels aren’t the story here, other than the fact that between squirrels and other hungry birds, the goldfinches aren’t willing to bother with dining at the feeder. They aren’t as persistent as the chickadees and other small birds. They clearly need their own spot, one where the blackbirds and other larger species aren’t chowing down like they’re at the free happy hour buffet. (Do bars still have those free buffets at happy hour? They were so popular in the eighties!)
Years ago I had an upside-down feeder that effectively deterred most birds, and I usually had charms of goldfinches hanging around in my backyard because they actually had a chance to eat. So it occurred to me that a quick trip to Rural King (I really need to stay out of that store!) was in order. Upside-down feeders were on sale, so I grabbed one, along with some nyjer seed to fill it.
You thought you were going to see photos of goldfinches, didn’t you? I’m afraid I haven’t been able to hang the feeder yet. That will require the assistance of The Music Man, who is ill this week, or maybe a neighborhood teenager if I can find one who doesn’t charge $40/hour. Meanwhile, I’ll make a final decision about where to hang the feeder for maximum observation and photo opportunities.
I’m also considering some other bird feeding methods. What has worked for you? What have you enjoyed the most? How would you maximize your plantings to reduce the dollars you spend on food for your wild birds? I would love some new ideas!