Attracting Birds

Q. When do the blackbirds return to the area?

This is one of our signs of spring that we do not look forward to each year. In most years we start to see Brown-headed Cowbirds, Common Grackle and Red-winged Blackbirds showing up at feeders as early as late February. Last winter it was so cold and snowy during that time so they didn’t return in good numbers until late March. Many switch to Safflower in their open trays as the blackbird group really don’t like it. Caged feeders work extremely well against grackle for sunflower or peanuts.

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Q. Do spiderwebs really pose a threat to hummingbirds?

This picture should answer that question quite well. Last summer, my nephew in North Carolina found this female Ruby-throaded Hummingbird that had gotten tangled up in a web quite severly. Luckilly he was able to get her cleaned up and on her way again.

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Q. How do I keep seeds from sprouting under my feeders?

The only real way is to feed hulless seeds like fine, medium or coarse kernels. Shelled peanuts will not germinate and neither will Nyjer seed (it has a seed coat but is sterilized before packaging). Regularly raking up the mess under your feeders can cut down on sprouting as can lots of Mourning Doves (the vacuum cleaners of the bird world).

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Q. Should I put out potential nesting materials to help birds?

I actually like to place nesting helpers out but you need to be selective. DO NOT use dryer lint. I know you probably have heard this from me before, but it is too dusty with very small particles. Use things like various lenths of strings, feathers, natural wool, fur (bison, Alpaca, dog, etc) and cotton. I like to place it under the overhang of my deck. Over 50 species of North American birds have been documented using people provided nesting materials.

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