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Super Green Thumb
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Re: Bird Feeders on my plot - Yay or Nay?

In general, I am very in favor of bird feeders in the garden. Birds can be very helpful in keeping pests down. Even seed eating birds, usually eat insects at some point in their life cycle (such as to feed their babies).

However, I do think it takes a little thought and care. I would not just "hang a fat ball." Suet is very attractive to a number of creatures, both a lot of birds and raccoons, squirrels, mice and rats, and other varmints. And some of the birds that would be attracted to suet, such as starlings and grackles are not particularly the ones you want to attract into your garden.

If you are going to hang suet, be sure you use a squirrel/varmint proof cage for it. There are a variety of them, including double cages:

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and other kinds of enclosures:

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that one is an upside down feeder which is nice, because the starlings and grackles can't hang upside down like that to feed.

It would help to know where you are. I think your signature line is in Vietnamese, but I think the people who talk about allotments are usually in the UK ?

I may not know your birds, but where I am some of the birds I would most like to see in my garden are bluebirds, chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, phoebes, sparrows (other than the English/ house sparrow), woodpeckers, Carolina wrens. All of these are champion insect eaters, that eat lots of the things you don't want in your garden including grasshoppers, beetle and moth larvae, mosquitos, ants, snails, bugs, flies, etc.

Of these the woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees will come to suet feeders. The others need different kinds of feeders. But along with the feeders, if you really want to have them in your garden, you need provide appropriate conditions, including water, cover, and appropriate nesting sites. For the woodpeckers, it helps to leave some old dead trees standing (cut off branches that might fall and cut it down to 3 meters or so). This will provide food and housing for them. The others each have their own kinds of nesting needs. I'm not going to list them, because I don't even know if these are your local birds or not. You need to figure out what your native insect eating bird species are and what their food and nesting needs are.

Bird feed that I put out is sunflower seeds, black thistle seeds, meal worms. The black oil sunflower seeds attract chickadees, nuthatches, titmice and wrens. The nyger/ black thistle attracts a lot of finches, including our beautiful gold finch. I put it in upside down feeder tubes (perch above feeding hole), which keeps house finches and bigger birds from using it. The mealworms (which come frozen and dried) are attractive to wrens, chickadees, bluebirds, mockingbirds, robins, thrushes, thrashers, catbirds, woodpeckers. Everything I put out is in a variety of squirrel/varmint proof feeders.

If you live where there are hummingbirds, then you will want to put up hummingbird feeders (that is seasonal for me, we only have hummingbirds in warm season). Besides being so beautiful and amazing, hummingbirds are champion mosquito eaters.

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Birds will also go for some of your seeds. Here, the doves dig out my pepper seeds from the pots and the cardinals dig out the sunflowers. Birds will also eat lettuce leaves and the cardinals will pull the plants up to get at the worms. There will also be a lot of bird poop to deal with. You really don't want your vegetables contaminated with that.

Bird feeders here do not attract a few birds. Finches, pigeons, doves come in flocks and they will fight for space in the trees.

Some of the birdseed that drops will sprout.

Feral cats will hang around trying to catch a meal.

Birdseed attracts seed eating birds. The birds in my yard will eat insects but most of the time they wait for me to kill it and they come and pick off the remains. Geckos on the other hand do eat everything from mosquitos to roaches and earthworms. The birds also come to eat them.

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Super Green Thumb
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Joined: Sun Feb 15, 2009 6:04 pm
Location: TN/GA 7b

Different parts of the world, different birds, different problems.

When we first started feeding birds, we put out way too much food, too indiscriminately and did attract large hordes of birds we didn't want. So now we are more circumspect. We don't put out any mixed bird seed - anything with corn in it attracts the wrong kind of crowd, and mixes with millet and other stuff in it, the birds reject and it ends up being a mess all over. So only the specific seeds noted, not in too large quantities. We do let the bird feeders empty out between fillings. And we use the specific feeder types like upside down feeders and double cage feeders, that not only the squirrels and 4 leggers can't use, but the larger birds can't use either. Doing that we have only the songbirds and not in too huge of quantities.

As noted all seed eaters eat insects at times and most of the birds I mentioned are mainly insect eaters that occasionally eat seed: The spring diet of the bluebird is entirely insects, especially grasshoppers, beetles, weevils, crickets, and caterpillars. Chickadees and titmice get as much as 90 percent of their food from insects—moths, caterpillars, flies, beetles, bugs, plant lice, scale, leafhoppers, and tree hoppers. In winter, they stay around, searching bark crevices for hibernating insects and the eggs of moths, plant lice, pear psylla, and katydids. Nuthatches go down tree trunks hunting for ants, scale, beetles, moth eggs, caterpillars, and cocoons. Nuthatches feed on seeds and nuts (hence their name) during the cold months, but in summer they’re 100 percent insectivorous. Phoebes eat everything from flies, mosquitoes, small moths, flying ants, and small beetles to grasshoppers, crickets, and caterpillars. Sparrows eat mostly seed, but at least 1/3 of their diet is insects, especially during the nesting season. Of the seed they eat, much of it is weed seeds, such as crabgrass, ragweed, and pigweed. Woodpeckers get up to 85 percent of their food from wood-boring beetle and moth larvae, ants, caterpillars, adult beetles, millipedes, and aphids. The Carolina wren is almost exclusively an insect eater in the summer.

Since we are careful and do not attract hordes of birds or the larger birds like starling and grackle, we do not have much problem with bird droppings. We have lots of trees and a bit of woods, so that may encourage them perching (and pooping) outside of the garden area. The only time we particularly notice is when the pokeweed berries or mulberries are ripe - then we do get some purple splotches around, but not to the point of being a problem.

But we are talking about our own parts of the world. What part of the world are you in, lifeflower?

Green Thumb
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Location: Southwest Louisiana

I have 4 bird feeders up in my yard-and I don't mind the hoards of doves that show up. My dog is trained to chase the big birds, so they are not that big a deal. Don't put your feeder directly in the garden, the seeds will sprout and you'll have weeds. I'm not particular about what kind of birds show up. Different seeds for different birds-research what you want. I'd stay away from the cheap seed, though-attracts all sorts of unwanted birds.

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