Saturday, February 5, 2011

Birds, Birds, Birds

For once I am not talking about chickens.

During the past week of winter weather excitement, I have fed more than my share of wild birds.  I love feeding the birds.  I encourage them to come here and hang out, and for the birds, this isn't a bad place to be.

Birds are very beneficial to have around.  Some birds prefer seeds and some birds prefer bugs.  We have an abundance of Barn Swallows in the summer and they love mosquitoes, therefore, I love Barn Swallows.  They tend to get a little upset if you are in an area where they are nesting, but we make things work.  Mosquitoes carry West Nile Virus and that is dangerous for my horses. 

See how things can work together?

I have tried various means of feeding the birds in the past.  I originally hung bird feeders in the trees.  Seems like a natural way to feed the birds, right?  Well, I have broken a number of bird feeders on windy days.  We live out in the country, and we have a lot of windy days.  Then I moved on to feeding the birds on a bird house that I have attached to a fence post.  It has a flat platform that it sits on and I would fill that up with seed.  This worked for a while until the wood started rotting and cracking and seed would fall through onto the ground.  Not very practical, but I still used it for a while longer until Kid demolished it.  I caught him hanging from the platform, trying to scramble his big butt up there, and half of it broke off.  He did manage to get up there and stick his arm up to his armpit into the bird house.  He was definitely looking for some baby birds to devour. 


I then progressed to using the clay saucers for my outdoor pots as a bird feed dish.  This works really well until it rains, then you end up with nasty, fermenting seed that smells like it could get the birds drunk if they ate it.  Almost at my wits end, which isn't far to go for me, I picked up a tip from a neighbor.  They just pour seed down the side of their gravel driveway.  The birds love it and it eliminates some of the issues with other methods of feeding. 

The first time I tried this, I used Black Sunflower Seeds, and I just walked down the center of my driveway and poured them on the ground.  This left a solid black line down the drive, and when the Man in Charge came home that day he was certain that something bad had happened to one of the vehicles.  "Not to worry," I said, "It was just me, feeding the birds."

Well, this has become my method of feeding ever since.  I tend to pour down the middle of our drive verses the side because we usually have a little grass growing there and the birds manage to take care of that for me while filling their tummies.  Plus, we don't drive down the middle, so we are not grinding perfectly good seed into the gravel.  My Part, Part-Timer was home over the holidays, and we were outside headed out to work on a project when I realized that I hadn't fed the birds yet.  I told her to hold on a minute, and to her amazement, I opened a 25lb. bag of bird seed and just started walking down the middle of the drive, pouring it as I went.  When the bag was empty, I looked up and she just said, "Dang Mom, I guess the buffet is open."  She couldn't have been more right.

This is what the buffet looked like this past week:

It was a non-stop barrage of feathered friends.  No need to de-ice any runways around here, they all made it in just fine.  The only problems were on Tuesday and Wednesday with the intense winds.  I spent a lot of time watching them and it was a little more than sad watching them try to land on a tree branch.  One little bird kept getting blown back by the gusts every time she tried to grab a limb with her little feet.  At one point she just grabbed a smaller twig with her beak and kept flapping her wings to stay in place. 

So sad...

I would be willing to bet that I have put out over 50lbs. of bird seed this week.  They have eaten well and I have tried to make sure that they have had water at least once a day.  It was too hard to do more than that because it was freezing so fast.  I don't think anyone is starving.  What do you think?

We have several sets of Cardinals running around here.  They can get a little jealous and protective of their mates if they think another male is trying to make the moves on their girl.  We spent a summer trying to keep one guy off of our cars.  He kept fighting with his reflection in our side mirrors.  It was a little sad and it did raise major concerns that he may be damaging his beak, but it was mostly irritating because he kept pooping down the side of our doors.

Crazy Bird!

If you have a favorite type of feeder or a method that works best for you, I would love to hear about it.

Any wind-proof feeders out there that I don't know about? 

I do live a pretty sheltered life you know.
Post any suggestions in the comments section.

I need to check the seed supply before the feed store closes.

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