M.C. asks from Castle Rock, CO on August 12, 2009
I recently got a bird feeder and have been using the outdoor bird food from walmart. The first few time I filled it, it lasted 7-10 days or so. Recently, when I fill it, the food is gone in 24-36 hours. I have also had a problem with larger birds ( pigeons and crows ) eating the food. Any ideas on how to attract the smaller colorful birds only? And how to keep it around a little bit longer?
C.L. answers from Fort Collins on August 14, 2009
I love bird feeding too! We have a cage from Wild Birds Unlimited that fits around the feeder and keeps the larger birds away. This helps make the food last longer. Also, if you buy a no-mess blend you will find the food lasts longer because there is no shells or other non-edible stuff mixed with the food. It is more expensive, however, so that might be a drawback. Watch carefully to see if the birds are digging through the seed. Sometimes with the cheep food, they actually just throw the stuff they don't like on to the ground in order to dig out the parts they do like. Humm...sort of like my toddler. But that really does make the food go faster too. If you don't mind investing in a new feeder, you could get a thistle feeder. Those only fit the smaller birds, and the thistle feed seems to go much slower.
Good luck and happy bird watching!
C.T. answers from Denver on August 12, 2009
EDIT - Ravisha: EYYWWWWW!
Hi M. - with standard bird feeders, it's come one come all. I dont know of any way to discourage the larger birds.
To attract the finches and other smaller birds, consider getting another bird feeder that is in the shape of a tube. They have short perches and smaller feeder holes down the tube. The bigger birds can't get into these as easily.
One way to save on bird food is to buy it in bulk like in a 25 or 50 pound bag.
S.S. answers from Provo on August 13, 2009
Sounds like you have squirrels! They love bird seed. Is it down low enough to be eaten by deer? If it has pegs on it, big birds invite themselves to dine. It there isn't enough space to land, they get mad and leave.
J.W. answers from Denver on August 13, 2009
Hi- I had this problem too. A friend at work told me to buy the thistle bird feed- skinny and black, You can get it at walmart- it attracts the most beautiful and colorful finches.
L.C. answers from Denver on August 13, 2009
Big day for you, your little boy started school!
Thistle feeders attract yellow finches. Also, if you stick to sunflower seeds, usually the pigeons and crows won't come around.
A.P. answers from Denver on August 13, 2009
We've had the same problem. We discovered that not only large birds were getting into the feeders... but also a squirrel... and a bear! So, we're not feeding the birds any longer. However, my grandmother who doesn't have a problem w/ bears attaches pie tins to the bottom of the feeder. It catches the birdseed. In the past... I have assigned different feeders to different birds. There is birdseed that is bird specific. For example, the large birds like peanuts. There is thistle for small birds (but I wouldn't recommend thistle because then you have weeds in your yard. There is song bird birdseed mix. Etc. The audubon society probably has other suggestions.
N.T. answers from Fort Collins on August 13, 2009
hi there- try changing the type of food you are putting in it, I have had the same problem you can also go to birds unlimited store by wellsfargo ont eh corner of college and horsetooth, they would know what to do for sure
M.L. answers from Colorado Springs on August 13, 2009
Oh, I hope your son loved his first day of school!
What birds come to your feeder depends on a number of things - principally (besides what birds are in your area to begin with) what type of food you put out and what sort of feeder you have. Of course, the big boys will go after the food if they can - they're hungry, too!
There are feeders designed to be accessible to smaller birds only. You might want to stop in a shop that specializes in bird feeding to see what's available - just to get an idea (some of these getups are pricey). There are bird feeders available in catalogues and online as well.
Different birds like different food. The Wal-mart mix may be a common blend with sunflower seeds in it, attracting a variety of birds, large and small. It's economical and easy to find, but we've gravitated toward feeding our birds millet (those little bitty white seeds that all birds like) and safflower seeds (which a lot of birds like but squirrels don't). We buy them in bulk at a feed store - it's perhaps a little more expensive than a discount store, but there is less waste because we aren't putting out any filler.
(We also have a large squirrel community in our neighborhood, and finally decided to feed the squirrels at the other end of the yard to give the birds a chance! We feed them ear corn, sunflower seeds, and apples.)
If your family really gets interested in this, you'll find many different kinds of feeders, because some birds like their food in hanging feeders, some on "trays," and some on the ground. We have put out suet balls and peanut butter in the winter for birds and squirrels both. Eventually you and your children will get to know what birds are what, and then you'll want a bird book and some binoculars. It can all become a whole lot of fun!
The advice to keep the bird seed outside is very good. It is packaged according to different standards than people food, and it can have bugs in it. If you store it in a close-covered metal container, perhaps in your garage, you'll do a little better on that head.
K.S. answers from Denver on August 13, 2009
There are feeders specifically made for the smaller birds. They have a smaller tube inside a larger one. The little birds can get through the outer tube mesh, but the larger birds cannot. They may be more expensive, but it's worth it, and maybe you can find one at a garage sale!
As far as getting them to eat less, good luck. My suggestion would be to pick a day of the week to fill it and leave it at that. They may run out before you fill again, but there is plenty of wild food at this time of year, so they won't have problems. Or getting that larger feeder may mean you need to fill less often. Remember that you may be feeding this year's new youngsters and those species that migrate are bulking up for the trip. As the season progresses, they will all be eating more. Also, more birds may have learned about your feeder than knew about it previously. Bird feeding is not necessarily an inexpensive hobby, especially if you want your feeders full all the time.
Good luck and enjoy our feathered friends!