New to birding here just south of Birmingham...
Just recently got into placing feeders out to attract birds because my young daughter loves when they come around. We've marveled at the hummingbirds, chickadees, and Cardinals.
Anyone else out there who is an amateur backyard birder?
Look forward to hearing what you're doing to attract birds to your backyard.
I was in Rogersville, did my 10th grade at the LCHS, and could enjoy those same birds, the cardinals and hummingbirds. We don't have'em here. I miss Alabama.
Here we use corn and wheat seeds to attract a bunch of birds, but what here is most important is to have quiet and clean water, so they can drink and wash themselves.
Great state and the better folks I've ever met the alabamians.
I can't say my wife and I are amateurs at feeding the birds; we've been doing so for over 20 years. We have learned that one way to attract more birds of a larger variety is to think beyond the feeders and landscape the yard with birds in mind. We are fortunate to have a natural water source nearby so the most important consideration is cover in the form of vegetation. Attracting unnatural numbers of birds to a feeding system can also bring in predators of several types. Cats, in a suburban setting, and accipiters, in our yard, are what come to my mind. If you watch where the birds go when they get startled, you will get an idea of what to bring closer to the feeding area.
In the photo I've attached is adjacent to our feeding area. You can see the "jungle" of vegetation that we have allowed to grow or have planted ourselves. The mountain laurel in the upper right is a favorite place for many birds so I've planted another and a rhododendron, just behind the small brushpile that leans against the retaining wall in the lower right. At some point, when the new shrubs grow larger, the manmade brushpile will no longer be necessary as cover. The balance of the area includes a native honeysuckle shrub, which is also a favorite hiding place, pokeweed, goldenrod, bee balm, bayberry shrubs, blueberries, deer tongue grass (a favorite with sparrows), winterberries and so on. We had sumac, which attracts birds later in the season when other food is becoming scarce, but it died out during this past summers drought. Not shown is a large dogwood tree, densely branched and a good spot for birds to perch before coming to our feeder system. Our backyard is messy to look at, no doubt, and may not be acceptable in some more controlling subdivisions.
Our bird food consists of a platform feeder with BOSS (black oil sunflower seeds), a Yankee Dome feeder with the same seed, a 16" log with 1 1/4" drilled holes to plug with a peanut butter and conrmeal mix, and seed we put at ground level or on our small deck surface. That seed is usually a mixture of white millet, BOSS and peanut pieces.
We don't feed the birds in the summer when natural food is more available. They do a good job of controlling insect populations (good and bad, of course) and after, 6 months of daily feeding, cleaning feeders (don't forget to clean your feeders regularly) and mixing pb suet, I am ready to turn the job over to nature.
I still see some of the feeder birds throughout the summer. They don't seem to ever lose their appetite for a sunflower seed.
in W. North Carolina
We are fortunate to be bordered on two sides of our yard with tall trees and underbrush. Basically, Alabama forestation. Our yard extends out about 100' and then it is all wooded. We have a wet weather "stream" that runs right behind our house as well. (Though I am thinking of getting a birdbath for consistent water for the birds.)
I have seen a hawk or two in the year we have lived here, but the birds have plenty of cover that they can go to in an emergency. Our two small dogs keep any cats from coming around and usually keep the porch squirrel-free.
At the moment, we have two mixed seed feeders, two suet cakes cages, a mealworm platform, and a Finch sock. I would think I have all my bases covered. I've taken down my two Hummingbird feeders as I went two-three weeks without seeing even one. (I miss those little guys. They swarmed our back porch.)
Thank you for the comments!
Sounds like you have a good situation. You might consider joining Cornell's Feeder Watch as a way to get further involved. Doing so may also "fertilize" the birding seed that is already apparent in your daughter.
To be squirrel free is a dream of mine!
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