June 20, 2013
Written by Jack Sanders
Thursday, 18 December 2008 14:46
How long should it take to attract birds to a new feeder?
As the Realtors say, it depends on “location, location, location.”
And, as many Realtors are now also saying, “patience, patience, patience.”
“I moved to another location in North Salem,” writes a reader named Mike. “Set out my bird feeders and nothing happened for two weeks. I moved them a little father away from the house and still nothing.
“We always had bird feeders at our other residence and enjoyed all kinds of birds. Do you have a suggestion?”
Here are some basics for setting up a new “feeding station.”
1. Make sure the feeder is fairly near some cover, yet far enough in the open that squirrels cannot leap to it. Birds like to have shrubs or trees nearby for protection. Many kinds of birds will hang around in the bushes, watching for potential predators, and then zip to the feeder, grab a seed, and head back to the cover. Obviously, evergreen plantings are best for year-round cover.2. A bit of distance from the house may help draw in birds initially on a lot that has not had a feeder recently. However, houses per se are not a problem; we have loads of birds that come up to window feeding stations.
3. At least at the start, offer them the best food — such as sunflower seed hearts or at least whole black-oil sunflower seeds. Hang some suet from the feeder, too, to attract woodpeckers and other meat-eaters.
4. Mount the feeder four to six feet above the ground. That’s a range favored by most songbirds that frequent seed feeders.
5. Last but hardly least, be patient! It can take weeks before the local birds discover there is a new food source in their neighborhood. However, once a few birds discover a new feeder, the activity will draw scores of others.
Luke Tiller of Wilton reports the Westport Christmas Bird Count this Sunday is “in particular need of feeder watchers on the day.”
The Westport count covers Easton, Fairfield, Norwalk, Weston, Wilton, Westport, and parts of Bridgeport, he said. “People who are interested in joining the count can find out more about it and download feeder-watching instruction and forms from underclearskies.wordpress.com/westport-xmas-bird-count-2008/
“Participants don’t need to be expert bird watchers to take part — they just need to be enthusiastic about birds and bird watching,” he added.
The Greenwich area count was last weekend, and Peekskill’s is Saturday.
Jim Meinhold of Wilton reports on Dec. 9, “a Varied Thrush showed up at our feeder this morning.” This species is about 3,000 miles away from home; it winters in the Pacific Northwest and California, and summers throughout much of Alaska. “A good bird for our neck of the woods!” he said. The bird was last seen on the 10th — and loads of birders came to look for it.
Mardi Dickinson of Norwalk and Bedford saw six White-winged Crossbills, feeding in the large group of conifers at Sherwood Island State Park Dec. 12. “They were busy extracting seeds from the cones.” This species is typically found in northern New England and southern Canada at this time of year.
Tom Baptist on Dec. 12 “observed an immature Goshawk at close range ... at the Audubon Center in Greenwich, over the front field. The bird was flying east to west, well above tree-top level and at a rapid pace. It did not stop.”
Brian O’Toole tells the Connecticut hotline that a Short-eared Owl was seen at Greenwich Point Dec. 13. The same day, a Yellow-throated Warbler, which ought to be in the tropics, was dining on suet and peanuts at a feeder in the Riverside section of Greenwich.
Speaking of birds that should be way down South, the Calliope Hummingbird was still being spotted in Simsbury as of Dec. 8.
Snowy Owls continue to be seen along the coast, including Stratford (Dec. 10) and Seaside Park, Bridgeport (Dec. 12)
Christmas Bird Count, Peekskill circle, Saturday, Dec. 20, 8 to 4, Bedford Audubon, bedfordaudubon.org, 845-677-3993.
Project Feeder Watch, all about this citizen science program, Saturday, Dec. 20, 1 to 2:30, Audubon Greenwich, 203-869-5272 x230, Greenwich.audubon.org.
Bird walks with Luke Tiller, mostly Saturdays at 8 a.m., $10 each; to register, www. sunrisebirding. com/ walks.htm; 203-981-9924, luke.tiller @ gmail.com.
First Sundays, birding at Greenwich Point with Meredith Sampson of Wild Wings, and other guides, Jan. 4, Feb. 1, March 1, April 5, May 3, meet at the second concession stand, 203-637-9822.
Copyright (c) 2008 by Jack Sanders. Send sightings or comments to: jackfsanders [at sign] yahoo.com, or to Bird Notes, Box 1019, Ridgefield, CT 06877; or call 203-438-1183, extension BIRD (2473), and leave a message with your report, spelling your first and last names and telling us your town. If you need help identifying a bird, try your local nature center. If you find an injured bird, call wildlife rehabilitator Darlene Wimbrow of Redding, 203-438-0618, Wildlife in Crisis of Weston, 203-544-9913, or Wild Wings of Greenwich, 203-637-9822. The columnist’s website is www. sandersbooks. com.
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