Words On Birds by Steve Grinley
Prepare Feeders for Winter Visitors
October 17, 2020
By Steve Grinley
Changes in the weather are bringing many birds back to the feeders. Large numbers of pine siskins have already migrated into the area and are starting to show up with the goldfinches at area feeders. Siskins are the same size as goldfinch, but have striping all over their body with flecks of yellow in their wings and tail. Goldfinches and siskins enjoy Nyger or finch mix in finch feeders, or sunflower in seed feeders-especially hulled sunflower. We are also hoping that redpolls will join these flocks this winter.
We have also had our first purple finches of the season feeding on sunflower. These birds may appear similar to house finches, but the males are deep purple all over, whereas male house finches have red on just their head, chest and rump. Both male and female purple finches have bold, wide striping on their heads. They especially like our open tray feeder with sunflower, as do many birds, but also frequent our mixed seed feeders.
There have also been reports of evening grosbeaks in New Hampshire towns close to the Massachusetts border, so it may be a year that we see an influx of these dramatic birds. They especially like open platforms of sunflower and will “clean you out” in no time. But the flashing white in their wings, and bold yellow and black coloration of the males, are spellbinding.
With autumn weather upon us, now is the time to assess your feeders, give them a good cleaning and fill them with fresh seed. Wash them with soap and water and, if necessary, a ten percent bleach or vinegar solution to kill any bacteria. Rinse thoroughly and let them dry completely before adding fresh seed.
Now is also the time to add more feeders if you choose. A thistle/finch feeder will lure the finches. A peanut feeder will draw woodpeckers, nuthatches, and tufted titmice. Many birds will enjoy suet in the cooler weather including woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees, and titmice. An open platform, or a hopper feeder with large platform area, will attract a wide variety of birds, especially those winter visitors for the north.
Sunflower and mixed seed feeders also attract a variety of birds. There are many new tube feeders on the market that are easier to clean. It is usually the base of the feeder where seed gets wet and moldy, so access to that area for cleaning is critical. Many of the newer feeders have quick release bottoms for easy cleaning. The most popular squirrel-proof feeders, the Squirrel Buster feeders, also disassemble easily for cleaning. Keeping feeders clean, with fresh seed, is key to attracting more birds as well as protecting their health.
Window feeders stick right onto the window with suction cups to bring the birds right up close. You can also purchase a mirror film separately for any window feeders. Window feeders provide great entertainment for children and cats!
You’ll want to place most feeders where you can watch from the house for the greatest enjoyment. Don’t wait until the ground freezes to decide to put a pole in the ground to place a feeder in a visible area from your windows. You can always hang a bracket off your deck or porch to hold a feeder, or there are brackets that mount on the window frame and will swing and lock in front of the window for close viewing. You’ll want to position feeders where you can enjoy them from the comfort of your home and, also, be able to access them for filling during inclement weather.
A little planning and preparation now will mean winter-long enjoyment watching the birds in your yard from the comfort of your home.