bird feeding

Winter bird activity

We hope everyone had a great holiday season and many thanks to all of you who shopped with us and brought us baked goods. We greatly appreciate all of you. During the holidays we get so busy running the store our weekly blog takes a vacation. Many of you give us favorable feedback on our blogs, which is nice to hear, but if there is a subject you think we should touch on please let us know.

So far this has been a fairly uninteresting winter for bird feeding enthusiasts. Although people have seen Red-breasted Nuthatches at feeders sightings have slowed. If you live where there is a presence of pine or cedar trees keep a close eye on your feeders this cold weekend. Red-breasted Nuthatches show a preference for areas with pine and/or cedar. Since I have no pine trees I recently ventured out to Montgomery Bell State Park and only had to step out of my truck in the visitor parking area to see a group of 5 or 6 in the cedar tree I had parked near. By the way if you really want to see Red-headed Woodpeckers you will see them at Montgomery Bell. They, too, seem to prefer open areas adjacent to forest along with lots of pine trees. I enjoy golfing and birding at MB and marvel at the great numbers of “Red-heads “present.

Red-breasted Nuthatch.

Red-breasted Nuthatch.

Red-headed Woodpecker.

Red-headed Woodpecker.

With the fluctuations in temperature come fluctuations in feeder consistency. On warm days, anything in the 50’s or more, insects become active and your feeder birds may gravitate to the sudden availability of protein. Birds do not live on seed and suet alone and never will. Customers sometimes make the comment “the birds must be confused”. Not likely. They simply adapt to changing weather patterns and take advantage of whatever food sources become available. Although, on Tuesday when it reached nearly 70 degrees I heard some birds singing which is usually reserved for spring and summer. So maybe they are a little confused, or perhaps eager.

Some notable sightings around Nashville include numerous reports of Sandhill Crane flocks flying over, a Bald Eagle regularly seen around Hillwood Golf Course, and a Snow Goose at Radnor Lake. One sighting of an Evening Grosbeak in east TN got me a bit excited because it’s been 30 years since notable numbers of them have been seen in this area. And they like to visit bird feeders. But more sightings were not reported and the chance to see them here fizzled.

Sandhill Crane.

Sandhill Crane.

Evening Grosbeak.

Evening Grosbeak.

Cleaning and tuning up feeders

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Now is a great time to give your feeders a good cleaning and needed maintenance.  If you need to replace a cracked tube, have missing perches, or whatever the issue, bring your feeder to us to see if we can help.  Many of the feeders we carry offer lifetime warranties and many parts are available and on hand.  We are happy to fix feeders whenever possible. 

We cannot stress enough the importance of cleaning your feeders on a regular basis.  As needed, or every couple of months at the very least, is a good guideline.  Dirty feeders can be a very unhealthy environment and diseases that affect wild birds may be shared.  Wet weather is usually the catalyst for moldy conditions and it’s during those times you need to pay very close attention.  Lately it has been very wet. 

No feeder is maintenance free and moisture finds a way in to even the very best quality feeders.  Follow some of these simple guidelines to keep your feeders in good shape.  To clean a feeder you may use warm soapy water and whatever available utensils you have that will work with your particular feeder.  If a feeder has become moldy you may use a mild (10%) bleach and water solution.  We carry long handled brushes to make cleaning a tube feeder easier.  For platform feeders an old spatula is very handy.  Clorox wipes are handy for tube feeder ports and hard to reach spots.  Be sure to rinse and dry thoroughly before refilling.

Keeping the ground below the feeders maintained is also a good idea. A significant build-up of shells and seed can present problems, again, worse when it’s wet.

Feeding birds is fun and offers us a closer look at beautiful songbirds.  Help them even more by providing a clean, safe environment.

If you see a sick bird at your feeders take them down immediately and give them a good cleaning.  Wait a few days before putting them back up.  House finches and Goldfinches are among the most susceptible to avian diseases passed along at feeders.  Here are some of the brushes we carry at the store. 

These large brushes work great for birdbaths and cleaning out large feeder trays.

Use these long brushes to clean out larger tube feeders.

Hummingbird feeder brushes work well on seed feeders too. especially those hard to reach areas.

Product Profile: Extended Reach Poles

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Ever try putting your squirrel proof feeder on a shepherd’s pole just to find out that it isn’t as squirrel proof as it should be? It’s not the feeder but it is the wrong pole that’s the problem. A squirrel proof feeder like the Squirrel Buster is very effective on the right pole and less effective on the wrong pole. The main thing to consider when pairing a weight activated squirrel proof feeder with a pole is how far your feeder hangs away from the pole. If it hangs too close squirrels may gain access by leaning out to the feeder leaving most of their weight on the pole, thus not triggering the feeder to close. Most feeders recommend a measurement of 14”- 18” from pole to hook. This ensures the squirrel climbs down on, or jumps to the feeder putting his full weight on the feeder. We have a few long reach options here at the shop that work great with the various weight activated feeders. The extended reach pole gets your feeder an ample 20” out from the pole and even allows for an extension to make the pole taller. This pole is also available in a deck rail mount option. We also have a super duty Shepard’s pole that has a 16” reach. This pole is great for larger feeders and is available in single and double hook options.

As always if you are having trouble with squirrels on your bird feeders stop by the shop and we will be happy to help.