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Article: Attracting and Keeping our Feathered Friends, the Songbirds: My experience is a bit different

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Forum: Article: Attracting and Keeping our Feathered Friends, the SongbirdsReplies: 42, Views: 280
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Elphaba

Elphaba
Rockport, TX
(Zone 9a)

February 13, 2010
3:11 PM

Post #7555962

I'm always interested in hearing what works for others, so thank you for the informative article.

In my experience though, NOTHING eats cracked corn, not even the squirrels. I won't buy a seed mix with corn in it anymore. May be different in different parts of the country though. At my parents home in South Dakota, the birds go nuts for suet. Here, there are hardly any takers. I don't make my own suet though, so maybe mine just doesn't taste good.

Also, that green squirrel proof feeder didn't work for me either. My squirrels learned how to balance on various parts so as not to close it. It took them less than 5 minutes to figure it out. The only squirrel proof feeders that worked for me are the caged ones for small birds. Otherwise, a squirrel baffle is the best solution.

Red-bellied woodpeckers and Jays love peanuts and grapes. They'll even fight squirrels over peanuts. Just thought I'd add my experience. Thanks again for the info and suggestions.
biskutmkr1947
Hubert, NC

February 15, 2010
2:54 PM

Post #7560705

I was wasting a lot of money on regular bird seed because the birds wouldn't eat the 'cheap' stuff, it fell to the ground and all I got was new plants from it. Now, I buy the 'no waste' stuff. It's a bit more expensive but all the birds love it. I also buy peanuts and larger sunflower seeds for the squirrels and feed them in a separate area although they always end up at the bird feeders anyway. Hey, everything has to eat and their antics are amusing. I put out enough food for everyone. A neighbor came over to see what I was feeding them because she saw how many and the variety of birds I am getting. One of my feeders in right in front of my kitchen window. The Carolina wrens especially like the suet blocks. The blue jays love the peanuts. And everything else loves the variety of seed I put out. I noticed that during the very cold weather, they eat a lot more, so I was filling my feeders every day. I also put out the suet blocks. I have a bird bath and a fountain that supplies the birds and squirrels with water.
CandiceKay
Centerville, SD
(Zone 4b)

February 15, 2010
6:12 PM

Post #7561355

I agree Elphaba. I'm here in South Dakota. I've bought the mixes with cracked corn and it ends up getting bugs in the bag and the birds don't eat it out of the feeders. Gets wet and clumpy. Also makes my husband a little cranky when I pay for birdseed with cracked corn in it when we are farmers and have plenty of that laying around by the bin site. Good to hear from a "past" South Dakotan.
Red_Sanders
Lake Charles, LA
(Zone 9a)

February 15, 2010
6:27 PM

Post #7561402

I would guess that there's not too much difference between your feathered friends in Houston and here in N.W. San Antonio. My experience is that the birds just don't go after the suet purchased at a big box lumber yards nearly as much as what we get from Wild Birds Unlimited. The suet from both sources appears to be the same, and certainly less expensive at the big boxes, but the birds see a difference. (Have expensive tastes? :-) We have a steady stream of two pairs of Red bellied woodpeckers to the suet - one comes in from the south, the other from the north - from their territories I guess. We also have a wire column very near the suet filled with shelled peanuts that the woodpeckers like, almost as much as the suet. As with biskutmkr1047, our wrens like the suet, and they like the shelled peanuts too. Strangely, our Blue Jays will take peanuts in the shell on a platform before they go after shelled peanuts - whether on the platform or in the wire column. We still get Cardinals to visit the platform that we keep stocked with black-oil sunflower seeds. But, sadly we have much less in numbers the last few years after houses replaced a tree-filled area out back of our home. Of course the sparrows and house finches take a share of ALL of this. And we quit trying to fight the squirrels, and just set up a feeder for them too. If we don't, they learn how to get past every barrier we have set up, with the most unbelievable acrobatics. We've gotten to "know" some of them and named them, such as "Limp tail", "Big Bully", etc. I'm sure others have the experience of when we are out of town for a few days, or get a little lazy keeping the feeders stocked, the birds and squirrels kinda wander away, and it takes a few days for them to come back.

Elphaba

Elphaba
Rockport, TX
(Zone 9a)

February 15, 2010
6:35 PM

Post #7561434

Thanks y'all! I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks that corn is a cheap filler that's a total waste!

Biskut, glad that no waste works for you. Isn't that the one where the sunflowers are shelled? I hate the mess of the shells, but if they're not in the shell, then I have a problem with them rotting and clumping like CandiceKay described.

Red, weird about the suet. Maybe the stuff at Lowes is old. I noticed that blue jays like the peanuts in the shell better than shelled ones too. I thought it was because they could fly away with two peanuts that way.

I'm actually off to buy more bird seed!
Volgardner
Knoxville, TN
(Zone 7b)

February 15, 2010
7:58 PM

Post #7561707

Does anyone know WHY birds stop coming to feeders. As background, they developed some moldy seed, so I cleaned them out, ran them thru the dishwasher to sanitize and put in new seed. But the birds will not come back. It must be pretty pathetic when the grackles won't even come. In the past, they have almost inhaled the feed, so I know they like the feed.So what do I do now? How do I get the birds back to the feeders.
Liquidambar2
Mount Vernon, KY

February 15, 2010
8:08 PM

Post #7561742

All I am trying to do is feed my tame geese. I feed a mixture of cracked corn and whole corn. I have tried to give them other things but they refuse. A goose requires about half a cup a day if nothing else like grass is available.

I give my geese each a cup a day - because I have so many other birds that I fear my geese won't get enough.

Crows in the moring, cardinals all through out the day. All those little sparrows (some have colors on them that is a little bit yellow or red!!!!!)

Blue jays and crows again spend most of the day trying to catch the dog asleep so they can get a nugget of dog food.

It could be that I feed constantly - every day - it is a ritual that has to be done - geese and dog depend on me - so maybe all this corn and dog food is always there and very dependable.

Water - well the geese are like pigs that root - only they scoop out little puddles so there is always water too. I make sure they have unfrozen water at least once a day if not twice.

Good article - and the comments about the corn was surprising and made me wonder why??? I guess it being there constantly -- or maybe the birds around here are not as picky???

That is interesting. Oh, I never put it in bird feeders - just trays on top of buckets to keep the mice away. However the geese are messy and plenty on the ground, for mice and all the birds too. Maybe the corn swells up to easy and makes it hard to get out of a feeder??

This message was edited Feb 15, 2010 3:10 PM

This message was edited Feb 15, 2010 3:20 PM

Elphaba

Elphaba
Rockport, TX
(Zone 9a)

February 15, 2010
10:41 PM

Post #7562201

When I used to buy the kind with corn, they would throw the corn out of the feeder on the ground where it would lay forever. Different strokes for different birds I guess.

As to the question of why they stop coming to feeders, could be the location. Mine stopped coming to a feeder when winter took the leaves off the trees over it. I moved it to a spot closer to everygreen shrubs and they came back. I think they felt too exposed. The White-winged doves were feeding under one of the finch feeders. I came out later when there wasn't a bird in sight and discovered that a dove had clearly lost its life in that very spot. It was like a down pillow had been torn open. It's been days and the doves have not returned to eat under that feeder even though a ton of seed is spilled there.
sharondippity
Gainesville, TX

February 16, 2010
2:12 AM

Post #7562742

cracked corn thrown on the ground under the trees

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sharondippity
Gainesville, TX

February 16, 2010
2:23 AM

Post #7562780

Cardinals love it, also dove, chickadee, and red winged black birds

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sharondippity
Gainesville, TX

February 16, 2010
2:25 AM

Post #7562787

pictured red winged blackbirds

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sharondippity
Gainesville, TX

February 16, 2010
2:28 AM

Post #7562796

I think the key is fresh. Corn tends to get moldy if it gets damp or wet. I have bought it when it had a faint smell of mold or looks bad.
Tom1alt
Garland, TX

February 16, 2010
4:20 AM

Post #7563107

I'm not a fan of cracked corn either but I don't have trouble with it being left over by the birds. The main problem with it is the larvae of the weevils or moths or whatever seems to make it their home. If you happen to buy some with them dormant, look out for the webbing and the moths that will end up in your seed container. As far as squirrels go, I have a hanging dish that they can get some seeds from but the main feeder is a pole one. I tried greasing it and it was funny to see them slide down for a while trying to climb it but actually one was able to just shimmy up...and the pole is metal so I give it a lot of credit. Once I put a baffle below the feeder, that pretty much stopped the squirrel and haven't seen it on the feeder since. Usually, I have cardinals, blue jays, pigeons, sparrows, and in the winter finches. One of my favorites is the dark eyed junco, not particularly a colorful bird with its charcoal gray top and white bottom and that yellowish short beak. But they are even smaller than most sparrows and are fun to watch walk around a lot. And they won't eat from the pole feeder, prefering to either eat off the ground with seeds knocked off that feeder or eating from the hanging dish. I only have the juncos in the winter since they leave this area around March or April and return about November.
Liquidambar2
Mount Vernon, KY

February 16, 2010
4:25 AM

Post #7563127

Texas you have got you one heck of a snow fall!

Love the picture of all the cardinals in the ice covered trees. I have just that many around eating my cracked corn.

I only have red wing black birds in the summer - yes they thieve the corn from my geese too.


Tom1alt
Garland, TX

February 16, 2010
4:30 AM

Post #7563139

Yeah, KY, I got about 6.5 inches at my place (east suburb of Dallas) but at the airport between Dallas and Fort Worth, they got 12.5 inches. Cardinals against the snow is one of the more colorful sights you will ever see. I forgot about the redwing blackbirds which I think come in the spring and I have some mockingbirds that eat a little of something, not a lot. The amazing thing today was walking out the front door and having literally about 50 robins fly out of the burford holly bushes. I have never seen them at any feeder but they do like the bird bath as much as any birds I've seen. Blue Jays love the bird bath too along with of course sparrows, etc.
sharondippity
Gainesville, TX

February 16, 2010
4:48 AM

Post #7563176

strange, I am just 80 miles north of DFW and the red wings are here year round.

I have the little junco too , they are beautiful

Robins eat protein...worms and insects and generally from the ground. I have never seen one at a feeder. But...just because I haven't seen one doesn't mean they don't. I heard the painted buntings won't come to a feeder, but I have had them on mine.

These little boogers leap from the taller tree branches down to the feeder, the pole is greased and the feeder shut but they can open it , sometimes they get all the way inside, curl up and stay for a hour or so stuffing their jaws

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Tom1alt
Garland, TX

February 16, 2010
5:00 AM

Post #7563221

I only see the red wing blackbirds in the spring and the dark eyed juncos in the winter/early spring. I have quite a few of the juncos most of the time they are around...maybe about 8 or so at a time. Your experience with the robins is the same as mine, but with their diet I can understand why they don't go to a feeder...they don't seem to be "seed eaters". The juncos are strange in that they won't go to a pole feeder but will go to a hanging feeder although most of the time prefer to just eat the seeds that have dropped to the ground. . Perhaps some phychiatric sessions are in order there ;-}

I don't have the Rocky the Flying Squirrel problem because my trees are far enough away from the feeder to where really the only way from them to get up the pole feeder is to climb the pole. As I said, even a metal pole didn't stop them, greasing it only stopped some of them, but the baffle (really just a 14" flat pizza pan that I cut a hole in since I didn't want to pay $13 for a baffle when I bought the pizza pan for $3) seems to stop them cold.
sharondippity
Gainesville, TX

February 16, 2010
5:27 AM

Post #7563270

they are fun to watch and as long as I can afford to feed them the birds will just have to share.

I have a large acreage in the country with lots of oaks and cedars. From my observations there seem to be birds that only eat from the ground.

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sharondippity
Gainesville, TX

February 16, 2010
5:34 AM

Post #7563281

I sure enjoyed all the birds during the snow.

The eastern side of my house is mostly all windows so I can take my pictures from inside. Just close the flash so as not to get the window glare

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Liquidambar2
Mount Vernon, KY

February 16, 2010
6:31 PM

Post #7564346

Sharondippity:

Half a foot to a foot in Texas!!!! I am impressed!!

What kind of bird is the gray bird with some yellow in it?

AND WHERE did you get such a neat bird feeder???
birder17
Jackson, MO
(Zone 6b)

February 17, 2010
1:51 AM

Post #7565417

Droll Yankee feeder works for me to keep the squirrels from eating the black oil sunflower seeds. May not work for others. You have to adjust the pressure so the birds can still eat the seeds but the squirrels will be too heavy and close the seed ports.
sharondippity
Gainesville, TX

February 18, 2010
1:18 AM

Post #7568022

liquid, it seems to me to be just a different angle of the female cardinal. Are you asking about the one in flight above?

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Liquidambar2
Mount Vernon, KY

February 18, 2010
5:00 AM

Post #7568496

No I was talking about the one sitting right in the middle of that bird feeding net looking basket.

But I do love that picture of the frozen ice tree and cardinals. You have got to enter that into some kind of contest here on Dave's garden or some where. IT has has bound to win or people have no taste!

But no it is the gray bird with the yellow in the bird cage.
gazergirl
Mandeville, LA
(Zone 8b)

February 18, 2010
5:32 AM

Post #7568561

I am no birding expert, but it looks like a Goldfinch to me. The Cardinal pictures are knockout.
Liquidambar2
Mount Vernon, KY

February 18, 2010
2:49 PM

Post #7569159

Oh, I was thinking it was big when it is probably little - a female goldfinch!
Thanks gazergirl. I think you are right.
sharondippity
Gainesville, TX

February 18, 2010
7:01 PM

Post #7569714

yes, goldfinch
birder17
Jackson, MO
(Zone 6b)

February 19, 2010
3:22 AM

Post #7570762

Cracked corn draws blackbirds and house sparrows for me. I don't use it.
sharondippity
Gainesville, TX

February 19, 2010
3:48 PM

Post #7571638

Yes, just about anything will eat it. I have dozens of beautiful red winged blackbirds on my place and they love it. I live on 40 acres of wild property so I can't discriminate

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Liquidambar2
Mount Vernon, KY

February 19, 2010
4:50 PM

Post #7571797

Sharrondippity;

How do you keep coming up with these neat pictures? Wow!

I love the sound that the red wing black birds make - don't you?

Birder17

Sorry about your luck with cracked corn. Maybe it is like my geese - birds are slow about changing their diet. In the spring when I start feeding the geese egg laying mash (even though they crave it ) it takes a while. I also start feeding them in the spring whole corn and they are slow about start eating it too. They will throw out the whole corn all over the ground to get to the cracked corn. Then by fall all they want is the whole corn. Come winter time and I start changing back over to cracked corn they will pick through the cracked corn in order to eat the whole corn for a while - then all they want is the cracked corn - and around and around we go.


But over the years if you want a large flock of cardinals , red wing black birds, and morning doves---- cracked corn or whole corn in pans and some scattered on the ground is the answer. It does draw them. But I am sure that bird seed that is more common out in the wilds like millet, thistle, sunflowers, cone flower seeds or what ever, would draw them better.

P.S.
But I plan on doing something to keep those blue birds, using that recipe you gave me. I am very excited about it.

This message was edited Feb 19, 2010 11:56 AM
birder17
Jackson, MO
(Zone 6b)

February 19, 2010
5:02 PM

Post #7571834

Those darn geese!!! You just can't please 'em!! Ha!
pianofritz
Zirconia, NC

February 20, 2010
5:12 AM

Post #7573451

We lived in the heart of New Orleans for over 40 years until Katrina ran us out with five feet of contaminated salt water. Pretty well takes out everything. With four daughters and the income of a professional musician the funds just weren't available for bird seed.

Our youngest daughter lives in Arden, NC and called us a couple of days after the flood and said "Dad why don't you talk to Mom about moving up here?" So my wife and I talked about it for about 30 seconds and said "let's go!" We've been here ever since. One of the first things I did was get a couple of bird feeders and put them up. My wife is a true skeptic. "You'll never get any birds to come here!" Now she's the one that insists on filling the finch feeder, the thistle sock and the platform feeder everyday.

In regards to squirrels - they can be defeated but you have to stick to it. My attitude is "there ain't no tree rat gonna outsmart me". What do you expect from a dedicated squirrel hunter? I paid about $30.00 for a feeder barrier from Wild Birds store then figured out how to make the same thing from stove pipe from Home Depot for about five bucks. Works great.

I have found that it appears as though the squirrels are discarding the corn you put out but in reality if you take a look at the discarded pieces of corn, each one has a part of it chewed out. Apparently they eat only what they consider is the "good" part. The racoons that visit at night ( I have a trail camera that captured their image a few months ago) clean up any of the corn left laying around. I'm adding a picture I took about five days ago of a squirrel sitting on the rustic fence I built in 2007 completely out of landscape timbers. That day we had about four or five inches of snow. The Smokies are a great place to live!

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sharondippity
Gainesville, TX

February 21, 2010
10:21 PM

Post #7577526

Liquid,
I live in the woods, I am blessed that all my moments are Kodak.

The red-winged males stake out their territories and begin to signal their mates with their songs, it's beautiful and last quite a long time in the spring and early summer. I have tall swamp iris all around my ponds and they love them to nest in.

The wild birds are beautiful, but the tree rats are more fun to watch.I don't like the raccoons they are into everything, they will even pull up a thacth of lawn looking for a kernel that might have fallen. And..then there are the armadillo that dig for grubs and tear the lawn up.

Thumbnail by sharondippity
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sharondippity
Gainesville, TX

February 21, 2010
10:27 PM

Post #7577541

I forgot to add that the bird feeders are just common from the farm and ranch supply store

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Liquidambar2
Mount Vernon, KY

February 22, 2010
3:11 AM

Post #7578029

You have a lovely place! It looks like something out of an enchanted fairy book!
Are those mourning doves on the bird bath?
Armadillos don't have them here, we use to visit Miss. to see my husband's sister and they are there. Such weird creatures, hard to believe such things exist.
sharondippity
Gainesville, TX

February 22, 2010
7:19 PM

Post #7579389

Mourning dove...Yes I am blessed to have a great place to retire to. We lived in the Dallas area all our productive years. Only been here 5 years now. Totally different lifestyle.

Armadillo are quite common here. They dig and root around like a pig. They have 4 young at a time, strangely all will be the same sex. We have fox that come to our back door (in the picture of the house) I throw all my food scraps out.

Thumbnail by sharondippity
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Liquidambar2
Mount Vernon, KY

February 22, 2010
7:49 PM

Post #7579474

Oh, what pretty eyes it has.
It is gray!

All of our foxes are red. I have pictures too, but they are rather grainy unlike yours. I am very impressed with your picutre.s

We had two different females that kept having their litters in our hay shed, and down at our hay barn. I had a security camera down at the barn and every night I would watch the kits come out and play. It kept me awake, because I enjoyed it so much and could not bring myself to stop watching. They are just like puppies. They would jump up on a big round bale we had and wrestle each other. One afternoon a mother brought home the neighbor's white hen for them to eat. That was bad, but most of the time they spent hunting for field mice.

The hay shed is much closer to our house, One time a kit got right into the geese lot, which is surrounded by dog fence. The geese were attacking it. It finally was able to escape. Everybody ask us why we did not kill it, that we were asking for trouble. But how do you hurt something that cute, and so small that it was able to get into the lot in the first place.

We finally got a blue heeler and she made sure they moved out of the hay shed, and she guards the geese. Good thing too because now we have coyotes. They are much more scarier, they are as big as a deer!!!!

Oh, also before the dog, they foxes would come right up in our yard, eat raspberries (right beside the geese lot), can you believe that! And they would play with the cat - it was really a half grown kitten. The cat would chase their tales and they would run from her???? Go figure!

This message was edited Feb 22, 2010 2:54 PM
sharondippity
Gainesville, TX

February 23, 2010
1:43 AM

Post #7580482

I'd like a dog, but since we lost our old one a few years back my husband would rather have the wildlife.
No cat, either, because of the birds

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Liquidambar2
Mount Vernon, KY

February 23, 2010
2:37 AM

Post #7580570

Oh look more snow in Texas? This is from a few years back too, you said your dog has been dead a few years back? Cute dog. You must get a lot of snow.

Yes, I buried our two dogs a mother and her pup both died at 16 and 17 years old. I was glad and sad. Glad to have known them, glad that they no longer suffered from old age, glad I did not have to worry about cutting their thick fur (both chow mix) come spring and summer.

My husband however, is a dog person and he was lonely without a dog. I am glad we got the blue heeler. My husband takes the dog every where, to the two farms, to the farm store, to my parent's home. I am glad it is around to protect the geese and watches after the cattle. It really likes the cows - although the cows don't like it. It really helps in herding geese and cows and plays catch with my husband throwing frisbees.

Get you another one, I can tell you miss having a dog.
sharondippity
Gainesville, TX

February 23, 2010
5:10 PM

Post #7581618

Yes dog pic taken about 3 yrs ago. He was a sweetheart. There is just nothing like unconditional love.

I tried last year with another dog, but just not the same and he dug everywhere trying to find a cool spot in our hot summers. My boy ended up taking him home with him.
Tried an outside cat, he would jump up and catch the birds, then one night a raccoon jumped up and caught him.
My husband won't tolerate inside pets. He is a neat freak.

Sooooooooo I'll just make pets out of my flowers ...I have water gardens and I am addicted to bearded iris and daylily
Liquidambar2
Mount Vernon, KY

February 23, 2010
5:40 PM

Post #7581694

I did not know raccoons kill cats????!!!! I got tired of mine down in the basement a shedding and the kitty litter and all and put her out to be free to go to the our attached garage or hay barn. She was always little, and when I put her out she gained a lot of weight and became very healthy. Our blue heeler did tree a raccoon one night up on the top of a down spout leading up to our roof. Such a good dog! Now I find out he is not only protecting the geese, and cows, but the cat too.
sharondippity
Gainesville, TX

February 23, 2010
5:59 PM

Post #7581751

We have them here 35 to 40 lbs sometimes and they can and will even kill or maim a dog
Liquidambar2
Mount Vernon, KY

February 24, 2010
12:08 AM

Post #7582664

I was coming home from church one night on a down hill slide over the river, of a four lane highway. Two coon dogs had driven about six raccoons up on the road. They were fighting, snarling at the dogs as the dogs snapped at the coons. I caught all of this briefly in the headlights as I ran over all six of them. Don't know if I killed or hurt them, but there was a lot of bump - bump- bump-bump-bump-bump. That is how I know there was six. I don't think I got the coon dogs. I hope not since there are some men around here that pays in the thousands of dollars for them''


AND YET I bet my blue heeler could take a coon on. She takes a bull on , grabs its tail and swings way up high back and forth. Coolest - scariest - most amazing thing I have ever seen.
pianofritz
Zirconia, NC

February 14, 2011
2:09 PM

Post #8372107

We buy a separate bag of squirrel food that we toss on the ground under the platform bird feeder. I had a running battle with one big grey squirrel to keep him off the platform that lasted about six months. I finally made a squirrel guard out of a tin metal smoke stack and when I put it up he got absolutely enraged.

I really wish I had a video of what went on. He tried for about an hour to run at the guard from different sides and leap and bang into it, he climbed the pole up into the inside of it then when he came down he would grab the bottom edge of the guard and shake it furiously. Then he would go to the fence and try to leap to the pole above the guard but never could quite make it. It was absolutlely hysterical!

I don't really know what cracked corn is but the stuff we buy at WalMart for the squirrels goes quick. I've noticed that they don't actually eat the whole kernel, just the really nutricious part of it. They really gather around three and four at a time when its out.

We' ve lost three suet holders to bears so we haven't replaced them yet. I'm experimenting with a recording of multiple cougar snarlings and it seems to be working to keep the bears away. It runs 24/7 and reportedly establishes a territory that most animals won't invade. We'll see.

I wish someone would tell me where to go to find information on questions about pruning small redbud trees. I just don't have the funds to subscribe.

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Other Article: Attracting and Keeping our Feathered Friends, the Songbirds Threads you might be interested in:

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