Words On Birds by Steve Grinley

Holiday Gift Suggestion for Bird Lovers
December 11, 2010
By Steve Grinley

     We are in the midst of the holiday shopping season, so it is time for me to present this year’s holiday gift suggestions for the bird lovers on your shopping list.

     For the people on your list that feed backyard birds, squirrels are public enemy number one. A squirrel-proof feeder, therefore, would be a welcome addition to their bird feeder collection. The newcomer this year is the Squirrel Boss. This bird feeder comes with a remote control that allows the user to gently “zap” the squirrel off the feeder with a mild jolt of electricity. It is solar powered and surprisingly affordable compared to some other battery operated feeders on the market. If there is someone you know who is totally frustrated with squirrels, this feeder will relieve their stress in a hurry!

     There are several other feeders that have been around for a while that also do a good job at thwarting the squirrels. The Squirrel Buster Feeders series are effective at closing off the food supply with the weight of the squirrel, thus preventing it from eating. The high end model is adjustable to stop red squirrels, chipmunks and heavy birds, such as pigeons or grackles. The Droll Yankee Flipper series are also extremely effective at stopping squirrels. The Flipper is the one that spins the circular perch with the weight of the squirrel and flips him off the feeder – great entertainment! Three other models in the series have collapsible perches or tray that doesn’t allow the squirrel to grab on to anything to feed.

     When squirrels are not a problem, there are new generations of tube feeders that are easier to clean. Droll Yankees, Aspects, Varicraft and Bird Quest have both Sunflower and Thistle feeders with easily removable bottoms for simple cleaning. Droll Yankees also has a new “Pull-Ring” Tube Feeder that is held together with a rod in the middle. Pull the ring at the top of the rod the entire feeder comes apart for easy cleaning. These all would be welcome gifts for anyone that has struggled to clean their bird feeders.

     Two other new feeders for this season is the Snowman shaped feeder and the green ball feeder from No-No. These all-metal fine mesh feeders can be filled with black-oiled sunflower and hung in the yard for the clinging birds such as chickadees, nuthatches and tufted titmice.

     Though this is not the time of year for birds to nest, a bird house always makes a great holiday gift. Some are painted and can be used to decorate inside, while most can be put out in early spring to provide nesting habitat for birds. If they can be hung outside in the winter, some birds will use them as a night roost to get out of the harsh New England weather.

     A heated bird bath is another gift that some backyard bird enthusiasts may not buy for themselves. Birds need water in the winter when cold temperatures freeze the fresh natural water supplies. Heated bird baths come with pedestals or stands, or they can be mounted on a deck railing. They are economic to use, drawing the power of a couple of light bulbs and they are thermostatically controlled to shut themselves on and off as necessary.

     Books are always a thoughtful gift and there is a plethora of field guides and other books on birds. The new Stokes Field Guide to Birds has been the hottest selling field guide since Sibley. The Stokes have packed his hefty guide with more than 1300 photographs, covering 854 species of birds. It also comes with a CD of 600 bird songs, and all for under $25.

     To bring the world of birds closer, a new pair of binoculars or a spotting scope would be a thoughtful gift. Optics have improved greatly over the years, getting much brighter with less weight, and a decent pair of binoculars doesn’t have to cost a lot of money there days.

     Of course, there are all kind of gift items with bird motifs on them which can be a thoughtful gift to the bird lover on your list. These range from jewelry, t-shirts, socks and leather goods to thermometers, clocks (including bird song clocks), mugs, ornaments, prints, and note cards. For children, there are window feeders, bird house and bird feeder building kits, story books and coloring books, bird song identifiers, plush birds and puppets.

     There are also local non-profit organizations that could use your support this year. A gift membership for someone on your list to the Massachusetts Audubon Society, Essex County Greenbelt, or the Trustees of Reservations would benefit the recipient and would help preserve the land and nature programs here in Essex County.

     Giving gifts of nature are gifts that will be used and remembered all year long.

Steve Grinley
Bird Watcher’s Supply & Gift
Route 1 Traffic Circle
194 Route 1
Newburyport, MA 01950
Celebrating 2
4 years of service to the birding community! 
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