View Full Version : When Did You Start Feeding Birds and Why do you Continue?
02-18-2009, 11:19 PM
I asked this question on another birding forum and had many,many wonderful replies. This is a good subject to...let's say to "break the ice" and get to know all the Birders that visit here.
My Dad got me interested in Birds as a child. He knew all the proper names of the native birds that visited our farm in NC. We didn't have bird feeders but would sometimes place cornbread out for them and many birds such as Cardinals and Blue Jays would enjoy the treat. In winter he helped me smear peanutbutter on pinecones and would hang them in the trees. Carolina Chickadees were one of a few I remember enjoying them.
Fast forward....in the last ten years I have lived in what I call "Bird Paradise" since I have counted over 100 different varieties visit. I enjoy seeing their incredible beauty,hearing their songs or calls and laughing at their interesting and often funny antics.
Also, it is very important to me that our future generations will be able to see and enjoy our native birds. So, I feed and provide for my 4 year old granddaughter and am teaching her about birds. So far she has been more interested than her Mother was when she was young. My Son has always been interested.:)
Lastly, I have always had a deep desire to "fly free as a bird" and having the birds close helps me fulfill this dream. Does anyone relate to this?
02-19-2009, 09:39 PM
As a young boy in the '70's, my parents, who live on --now-- two acres of woods, began feeding the birds during the winter months. I can't remember where my fascination came from/how it began, but soon, the window in our "den" --Mom's desk/office area-- was my new t.v. set. I could and would spend hours watching the incoming birds, quickly grabbing binoculars and a book and identifying them.
Within the next ten years, after I acquired my first job, and still at home, I took over the birdfeeding duties. I learned which species responded better/came in more heavily to which types of food offered. I especially loved the cavity nesters. They quickly became my favorites.
All of that spilled over, and I began researching the fundamentals of bluebird trails. That, and summer walks with my neighbors; two still living --husband and wife; the other neighbor, unfortunately, deceased. The two men would tell me stories about the former abundance of bluebirds in the area, and how they were trying to bring them back.
I decided to help with their quest. I didn't even know, at that time, what a blue looked like, sounded like, or anything. My work was cut out for me. The neighbors had already placed nestboxes on their personal properties, but my parents land had too many trees. So I did the next best thing. I placed mine along side the utility poles along their mile of country road.
The next thing we knew, the bluebird population exploded! Sure, there were tree swallows that found the new nestboxes to their liking too, and that was fine. And of course, I had my dealings with the house sparrows. But once they were all but eliminated from the area, the bluebirds were launched into the forefront. I need to re-re-establish them again. The swallows are doing great, and in mid- to late-summer, the wrens are the new foe. So I need to step up my efforts for the bluebirds again, which means more nesting sites.
I'm almost 43 now, and that's my story.
02-19-2009, 10:51 PM
Hi Monty and welcome to the forum!
I loved your story. Thanks for sharing it.
As you know..and probably everyone else...Bluebirds are a favorite of mine also. Sounds like you had some great teachers, plus learning much on your own.
I appreciate what you have done to help increase the numbers of our beautiful Eastern Bluebirds.
Hope to see you here again!
NW of Atlanta...in the sticks:)
02-20-2009, 10:21 AM
Hi Monty and Jean -
When I was a kid on my parents farm I vaguely remember my dad having a PM house. When they retired from farming they moved to a place with 3 acres and lots of spruce and pine trees. One huge pine tree was right in front of their dining room window and they hung feeders there and attracted dozens of birds. That's when I got interested because I was fascinated that they could ID them all and made a list. One species they got that I don't is the Evening Grosbeak. Maybe because they fed the big striped sunflower seeds. I don't remember them feeding BOSS.
After we bought a farm I started feeding birds and attracted mostly HOSPs along with Chickadees, Blue Jays, and Goldfinches. Then after we moved to the woods and I continued to feed birds there are more species all the time that I am learning to ID. But there are NO HOSPs!!
And to my great surprise, last summer I discovered there are Bluebirds nesting in the old knotty trees! I actually saw 4 fledglings together on a branch, but couldn't get a pic with my 'not good for birding' camera.
02-20-2009, 03:52 PM
I wish I had some small knotty tree trunks or good-sized knotty tree branches to make nest"boxes" out of. I think you're more than lucky to have the original nesting sites for these birds. I think that's why I began using the boards from my cousin's barn --which, unfortunately, I can no longer get. They had to move --long story-- so the barn/property is no longer accessible to me.
I would love to revert the birds I build for back to the old knotted tree trunks/rotted fenceposts. But I'm having a hard time figuring out how to create these structures without damaging any trees. And I don't have any wood fenceposts that are large enough to dig a cavity out of.
I would also love to build a rough nestbox, and attach a knot-holed front to it. But haven't figured that out yet.
02-20-2009, 06:11 PM
Hi Monty -
Is there a sawmill anywhere near you? Sometimes slabwood has knotholes. People often buy it by truck loads for burning in wood furnaces. Just an idea. :)
02-20-2009, 09:50 PM
I just noticed the rest of the question. Why do I continue? For the betterment of the generations to come. We each need to find a reason to leave this world a little better than when we came into it. And part of my "legacy" will be leaving bluebirds (and other Native birds) for future generations to see, hear and enjoy.
I will also continue to educate all others in matters that adversely affect our Native birds. I know the subject of dealing with house sparrows and starlings is grim and touchy for some people, but the more people who know about these species, and especially what they are capable of, is of utmost importance.
I didn't enter the birding world as a sparrow-hater. And I wish I didn't have to feel this way about them. But the truth be told, if they would leave the Native birds alone, I would leave them alone. Sadly, it's not going to end that way. As long as there are house sparrows killing innocent Native birds, I have work to do.
That's why I continue.
02-21-2009, 09:18 AM
There is a sawmill of sorts in a spit-of-a-town (more of a small community) near me. They take mostly "junk" wood --knotted trees, or with nails/fencing stuck in them-- and make skids/pallets of them. I never thought of asking them to see what kind of arrangement we might work out for some raw materials. That is a great idea.
02-21-2009, 09:25 AM
I've found that it doesn't take much to not only create a nice brush pile for wildlife, but the "naturals" find it very quickly. Behind our house is a concrete wall --borders our property-- and at the corner of this wall, my westerly "neighbors" throw their grass/weeds/wood trash in that corner. Sounds attractive doesn't it?
During an ice storm a month or so ago, we had a lot of tree rubbish come from their Chinese Elm. Looked like half the tree was in our backyard, which was still technically their property, but how long would it be until they cleaned it up...
Anyway, I cleaned up our corner of the area and threw most of the rubbish/branches in that corner. Already there are alot of small birds that use it for protection, and I'm sure an oppossum is sleeping under there.
Oh yeah, brush piles are very easily made and inhabited.
02-22-2009, 04:17 PM
I was in a dept store today --that I will keep anonymous-- and went to check out their birdhouses. Oh, by the way, not only does that big paper-mache`-looking birdhouse that hangs from the ceiling have a blue jay on the perch, it also sports a cardinal-likeness of a bird on the roof.
Anyway. I was looking at their birdhouses, and did not like what I saw. I don't want to make anyone mad by mentioning the name of the birdhouse company --whether you might work there; know someone who does; or own one of these nestboxes-- but they're junk. Nature's Niche birdhouses are a farce. The floor space, estimating it --no measuring tape handy-- to be 2 1/2 x 3, or 3 x 3 at the largest; has plexiglas as an innerwall so you can see what's going on inside the nest without anything falling out ( I guess ); and two holes on the inside of the back board for a wooden dowel, included..??
What the dowel and holes are for, I don't know. The best features are: side-opening for cleaning (once you turn the catch at the floor to remove the plexiglas); good drainage; good ventilation; and a built in screen bottom to discourage parasites. Oh, and the roof was good and big. $14.99 for one. I wouldn't buy one for half a cent. Or, should I say, if I did buy one, I would modify it to actually WORK.
I don't know who comes up with the designs/plans for these "nestboxes", but don't buy them. About the only bird that would be able to raise a brood in one is a wren... the floorspace is that small. If there are any nestbox builders out there and who might read this, have a look for yourself.
02-22-2009, 05:36 PM
I loved your Why do you Continue answer. You put that beautifully. Much better than I did.
Since I just made a brush pile a few weeks ago, I am just learning about how they can benefit our birds and wildlife. Thanks for sharing your experience with one. They may not be the most attractive things in the world but am seeing Cardinals,Eastern Towhees,Mourning Doves,and Chipping Sparrows using it.
I would like to mention that there is a Brush Pile thread on the Louisiana Bluebird Society Forum under the Bluebird Conferences for those of you that would like to read more on them. Evelyn and drbirdsong really did a great job answering my questions about brush piles there.
Good advice on the unsuitable ready-made Birdhouses, Monty. I learned this lesson the hard way a few years back. Had a pair of Eastern Bluebirds choose to nest in one a few years back. The second year they returned and the dang thing just up and fell totally apart after a thunderstorm. Lost all four eggs. It was heartbreaking to see the pair return daily looking for the "their house".
NW of Atlanta
03-29-2009, 12:40 AM
Hi Fellow Birders!
I am looking for more replies to these questions!
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