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Posts Tagged ‘suet feeder’

Hi everyone! It’s Cindy here. Lately my Nature Friday posts have been all about the birds and this weeks is no exception. Don’t worry, Millie and Walter are doing well and will be back soon.

Charlie has been working hard in his wood shop this winter to get some new feeders ready for the return of our feathered friends this spring. The first thing he did was work on a new suet feeder.

Tufted Titmouse clings to the side of the old suet feeder

The previous suet feeder, seen above, was just a suet cage attached to a piece of wood and hung from a crook. The feeder was getting old and cracked and needed an upgrade. One thing we wanted to do was cut down on some of the “bully” birds that were able to access this feeder. The new suet feeder now has four sides so only birds that can cling to the bottom such as woodpeckers, nuthatches, tufted titmice and chickadees can use it. Other birds like starlings and grackles aren’t able to hang upside down and won’t be able to use it.

Upside down suet feeder

Since the crook was still in the ground we were able to hang this feeder right away. At first the birds seemed a bit hesitant to use it even though it’s in the same place as the previous one was but after a few days the realized that it contained the same suet they all love. The good thing is that the birds that can’t hang upside down, like cardinals and sparrows,  still get to benefit by hanging out under the feeder to pick up whatever is dropped.

A trio of new feeders – (left to right)
Platform Mealworm Feeder, Double Suet Feeder, Gilbertson Style Mealworm Feeder

Charlie also made a double sized suet feeder. You can see it in the middle above.

Underneath the double suet feeder

This feeder holds two suet cakes at a time and also has sides to prevent the non-clinging birds from being able to use it. The hope is that we will finally be able to attract a Pileated Woodpecker to our feeder. We have seen pileated woodpeckers around our yard but they are too big to use the smaller feeder.

Chickadee on Mealworm Feeder

The other two feeders that Charlie made are mealworm feeders. Our old platform mealworm feeder (above) was about 10 years old and needed to be replaced. The main difference with the new feeder is that now it will be attached to a 1¼” conduit with a strap instead of the wooden bracket you see on the old feeder.

Bottom of Platform Mealworm Feeder

The holes you see are for drainage and don’t really allow the mealworms to fall out. That happens well enough when a blue jay lands in it an starts flinging the mealworms around.

The other mealworm feeder Charlie made is a Gilbertson Style Mealworm Feeder.

Gilbertson Style Mealworm Feeder

Charlie’s version doesn’t follow the plan exactly. His is slightly larger with smaller posts in the corners to allow more room in the interior areas and he uses the same mounting method as the platform feeder above. As you can see this feeder has a cup inside where the mealworms will be placed. It also has metal rods running between the posts on all four sides. This prevents larger birds like starlings, mockingbirds, robins and blue jays from entering while allowing the smaller bluebirds, wrens, chickadees and tufted titmouse access.

How to access feed cup

In order to access the cup for refilling you are able to remove one of the metal rods. On the right, in the first picture of this feeder, you can see that one of the metal rods is bent with a small stop block keeping it in place. When it’s time to refill the feeder you just unlatch the rod and slide it out so you can reach in to remove the cup, which in this case is just a ½ cup measure with the handle cut off.

Once the ground thaws out (in a couple of months) we will be able to put up a new crook for the double suet feeder and put the conduit in the ground and mount our new mealworm feeders to them. The mealworm feeders will also be fitted with squirrel baffles to keep those pesky chipmunks and squirrels from pigging out on mealworms. In case you were wondering we feed dried mealworms which I buy in bulk from Critter Boutique. That is not an affiliate link. I am providing it since I think they have the best price for bulk dried mealworms in case you want to try using them. The suet feeders don’t need squirrel baffles since I only feed C & S Hot Pepper Delight Suet cakes. The birds don’t mind the hot pepper but the squirrels and chipmunks sure don’t like it and never try it twice.

Join the Nature Friday Blog Hop

We are joining the LLB Gang for their Nature Friday Blog Hop. You should pop over to their blog to see all the other posts.

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Wild Bird Wednesday

Hi everyone it’s Cindy here. There has been so much bird action around our yard this past week that I had to do a Wild Bird Wednesday post.

I was hoping to be able to tell you about our Eastern Bluebird fledglings by now but sadly the first brood of babies were attacked by a House Sparrow and did not survive. This is not an unusual occurrence for bluebirds and many other cavity nesting birds but it is a first for our property. Prior to this year house sparrow sightings in our yard were very rare but for some reason this year we had a couple try to nest in our spare bluebird box. Usually the other box is inhabited by a House Wren but the sparrow started taking over the box before the wren arrived for the season.

The sparrows also started harassing the bluebirds who, by this time, were feeding their hatchlings. One day last week while Charlie was working in the yard both adult bluebirds were out hunting for food when sadly a sparrow entered the box and killed the babies. We removed both nest boxes immediately and set about looking for ways to prevent this in the future. After a quick search on the internet we found plans for a “Sparrow Spooker” and quickly added it to the box.

Bluebird House with Sparrow Spooker

Bluebird House with Sparrow Spooker

The reports indicated that these funny devices were very effective in deterring the sparrows but didn’t bother the bluebirds. Ours is a simple design of a large diameter dowel with two smaller dowels near the top sticking out at right angles to each other. We stapled strips of Mylar to the smaller dowels and the large dowel is screwed to the back of the house. The renovated house was put up by the end of the tragic day so we hopefully wouldn’t loose our bluebirds. We are happy to report that the bluebirds have stayed, the house sparrows have left, and the bluebirds are working on another brood already. We haven’t seen or heard any house sparrows in our yard since.

Grey Catbird on meal worm feeder

Grey Catbird on meal worm feeder
(Picture taken through window)

In happier news we have had a huge rush of migratory birds to our yard. Some are on their way further north but many are here to stay for the season. The Grey Catbird is always one of my favorite summer residents in our yard. I love listening to their cat like calls and laugh at how they try to mimic other birds.

American Redstart
(Image Source)

We had a huge explosion of warblers in our yard. A few of these such as the Yellow Warbler, Common Yellowthroat Warbler and American Redstart are some that stick around for the summer. The warblers are very difficult to photograph since they move quickly and hang out in thick trees and shrubs. I was able to capture an American Redstart (male pictured above) on video looking for bugs in our Leatherleaf Viburnum.

If you can’t see the video you can go here to view it.

Baltimore Oriole
(Image Source)

The second bird that is often heard long before we see it is the Baltimore Oriole. I found ours hanging out in one of the apple trees on our property. Here is a brief video where you can catch a glimpse and hear his piercing call.

If you can’t see the video you can go here to view it.

You can also hear the Common Yellowthroat call in the oriole video (you can find a sample of the call at the link for reference).

Okay I know this post is already a bit long but this is a busy time of year for birds. I have one more thing to tell you about. For years we have heard but never seen a Hermit Thrush on our property. These birds often hang out in dense woods and forage on the ground but this week we have had one regularly visit our perennial garden where he discovered the meal worm feeder!

Hermit Thrush on meal worm feeder

Hermit Thrush on meal worm feeder
(Picture taken through window)

We are thrilled to see him return often to partake of our meal worms and hope to see him much of the summer.

I hope you have enjoyed this edition of Wild Bird Wednesday and will take some time to stop by the blog hop host too.

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Gray Catbird Visits Suet Feeder

Wild Bird Wednesday

I know what you are thinking. Why is she posting Wild Bird Wednesday on Tuesday? Well the Wild Bird Wednesday blog hop is hosted in Australia so if I wait to post on Wednesday the blog hop is at least half over by the time my post goes up. I also have something else I want to do for Wednesday but you will have to wait until then to see what it is.

Okay, now on to the Wild Bird post…

A few years ago Charlie made some simple suet feeders that are called upside down feeders.

Upside Down Suet Feeder

Upside Down Suet Feeder

We quickly attracted the usual visitors like this Downy Woodpecker.

downy on suet

An upside down suet feeder is great for attracting many tree clinging birds including woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees, and titmice. Squirrels and chipmunks can still get to this type of feeder so to discourage them from using it we use a hot pepper formula of suet. The hot pepper deters the mammals from feeding on it, but does not bother the birds.

Gray Catbird Eyeing Suet

Gray Catbird Eyeing Suet

Most non tree clinging birds can’t hang upside down very easily so it is very difficult for them to use a feeder of this type. This is good to keep some birds such as starlings and crows from the feeder. Our non tree clinging birds are very tenacious and have learned to use the suet feeder despite the difficulty. Here is a little video of a Gray Catbird using our suet feeder.

If you can’t see the video you can go here to view it.

So far the list of birds other than the tree clinging ones to use this feeder include Gray Catbird, Northern Cardinal, Blue Jay, and Song Sparrow. It is always fun to see what unusual things the wild life will do next.

I hope you have enjoyed this edition of Wild Bird Wednesday and will take some time to stop by the blog hop host too.

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