Monday, February 25, 2008

Seed Recycling Bird Feeders

Ever wonder why I don't talk about the birds visiting my backyard feeder? It's because I don't have one.

I often post about birds I see at my parents' home on Cape Cod, or even the birds that friends spot at their own feeders. Unfortunately I can't have one since my apartment is on the second floor and although we have a back porch, I resent the mess it makes on our porch, as well as the first floor apartment's porch and yard.

That's not to say we haven't tried—I have made two separate attempts to hang a feeder and suet basket from the porch roof, but those darn House Sparrows make such a mess, strewing birdseed everywhere and messing all over the floor. They're even so bold as to feast right on top of our furniture. Bird poop on the table is not too appetizing at a barbecue.

My boyfriend was the one who was really on top of the cleaning, but of course I chipped in and helped sweep and scrub the floor with Windex. I think one of our biggest problems might have been that we were using a mixed seed, meanwhile the consensus seems to be that black oil sunflower seed is the preferred seed and birds will just pick out the filler. My mother swears by black oil sunflower seed and only feeds her birds that.

What's really kept me from pursuing a feeder is the fact that there is little variety in an urban setting. When I lived in a neighborhood of Boston I only saw House Sparrows, a Mourning Dove or two, and rarely a Downy Woodpecker. Here in Watertown it's not much different. I often mention the Northern Mockingbird that lives in the vicinity of our yard, but unfortunately there are few other interesting residents. I certainly could be proved wrong, but the two times I've hosted a feeder I didn't see very much. Another motivation for not hosting a feeder is that I'd like to become a more active birder, being motivated to travel to birding locations.

Needless to say, I clicked on an ad for a no spill, seed recycling bird feeder and I'm seriously considering purchasing one. I'd also like to give suction-cup window feeders a try at the recommendation of local friends.

The seed recycling feeders from Tidy Diner seem to be well constructed:

Has anyone had any luck with this type of feeder? Although it would catch the strewn seed, I still think the House Sparrows would have a field day hopping around our porch floor eating and pooping as they please. The issue with our porch is that there are not stairs; therefore, there are no predators up there to force them to fly to tree branches to eat their seen. I'm worried this is a lost cause, but I certainly welcome your ideas.


AvianMaven said...

You might also want to look into something called the "magic halo" which goes over any feeder and repels messy sparrows. It looks like a hoop with wires that hang down from it. So hopefully you'd get more of the interesting birds you're looking for.

Birdinggirl said...

Thanks for the tip! I checked them out on the Sialis site and it seems like a great idea. I'll let you know if I decide to buy one.

NW Nature Nut said...

I'm not sure if they are recommending this, but don't put the seed that drops back into the feeder as that isn't sanitary. "recycling" sounds like that is what they are suggesting. Did you try using sunflower hearts/chips for not shell mess? I know the sparrows just don't have good table manners!

Larry said...

I could see how you would be discouraged about only having such a limited variety of visitors at your feeders.-The shelled sunflowers are much neater.-You can make those magic halos yourself-I've done it before with a metal clothes hanger and fishing line weighted down with fishing sinkers.

Birdinggirl said...

@nw nature nut

Thanks for the advice. I agree- it doesn't sound very sanitary. My primary goal is to reduce the mess created by the house sparrows so that's my first task- deterring them.


I know- I really shouldn't whine so much about the house sparrows and I'm sure that if I consistently had a feeder up with good seed I'd see more interesting birds. It's great to hear that you've tried the magic halo. I'll definitely consider it when I'm ready to have a feeder.

For now I think I'll put off the feeder until I have a more inviting outdoor environment. This is all very helpful though and I'll put these feeder tips into practice when I'm ready to put one up.