Backyard Bird Feeder Wars!

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I’ve mentioned before that I’m big into feeding birds. The problem is that when you open up the buffet, you never know who is going to show up. And then it is all our war.

On the one hand, you can argue that all birds are part of nature and we really shouldn’t be finicky about who shows up to eat. But let’s be honest. There are birds that are less than desirable. We want to get the ones with colors or the ones who have nice songs.

And then we have the grackles. Imagine if you threw a party and a whole gang of people crashed and ate all your food and drank everything you had in the house and then refused to leave. That’s pretty much a grackle. They come in big flocks and make a grating noise and eat like it is nobody’s business. A flock of them can empty a feeder in a few hours. I know all things serve a purpose but I’m not really sure why we have grackles.

Well you can thwart them by getting feeders with a cage around them. Then, the little birds that we like can fly in and feast while the grackles are kept outside. The problem with that approach is that it blocks other birds like the bigger woodpeckers (which we like) and the cardinals. Well the cardinals aren’t really well adapted to bird feeders but it is kind of pathetic to see one landing on the feeder with a cage and trying to figure out how to get at the seed.

But then we also discovered that small rodents like chipmunks and red squirrels can also squeeze into the cage and then they’ll just sit happily and devour more than you’d expect. Now, we do like the red squirrels because they are cute. The chipmunks I don’t have much use for. At least the squirrel eats and stops when it is full. The chipmunks just load up and go store it and then come back for more.

We do feed raccoons and, up until this year, we’ve had something of a truce. They wait until we give them stuff and stay away from the feeders. This year, they’ve launched many attacks. While then can’t fit into the feeders, they can get their little paws in there and scoop stuff out or scrape stuff off the cylinders we use. I’ve got a pair of squirt guns to chase them away if I see them but, more often than not, I don’t.

To fight the critters, they do sell seed coated with hot pepper. Most of the animals don’t like it but the fox squirrels have seemed to develop some kind of love for spicy food. They can’t eat much in one setting and they usually make a beeline for the bird bath to get some water but it doesn’t stop them.

So we end up with multiple feeders around the house. The ones that can be reached by the critters typically get hot pepper stuff (except now since there are supply chain issues and the store seems to be out). We put up a few other feeders in spots that the critters can’t reach because there are certain birds that prefer a certain type of seed so they need a special feeder. Plus, we have feeders where we offer stuff that isn’t at the others just to allow multiple places to watch birds.

Needless to say, the folks who run the local bird feeding store know me very well.

Except I’m not sure they are actually hungry. Ours is just an easy food source.

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