Saturday, December 28, 2019

Feeding the birds

Like a lot of people, I put seed out for the birds in the winter. I don't feed them in summer because, I figure, there are plenty of insects around for them to feast on. I have two feeders, one out back hanging above the real fake well, and another in front hanging in one of the big maples. Then there's this contraption that hangs from the deck rail and holds suet and seed balls, which are sold pretty much everywhere around here.

A tit visits the deck feeder and watches as I take its picture.

The birds usually make quick work of the loose seed in the feeders. One bird (usually a tit) will push the seeds out onto the ground and the other birds will gobble it up. It needs to put in a little more effort to peck the seeds out of the grease balls (as I call them). Still, there's a hierarchy. The bird in the photo is one of the many varieties of mésange (tit) that visit the feeders each year. They are the ones that usually peck out the seeds they want and let the rest fall to the deck where other birds can stroll around and pick them up.

I often find Tasha and Bert sitting just inside the sliding glass window, watching the birds feed. Every once in a while a bird will hit the window, thinking it can fly through to the other window in the room. It lies there on the deck, stunned, for a while before getting up and flying away. Unless it doesn't, then I have to dispose of the body


  1. That’s a great photo of a Great Tit. I miss feeding the birds. Would be a mess on the terrace and the cats would have to be permanently locked inside.

  2. Walt, lovely picture as Mitchell says.

    Just to mention, the green bags the fatballs come in have been shown to be dangerous to tits... organisations like RSPB [UK] and LPO [France] now only sell un-netted balls and both them and their parent organisation Birdscape, now recommend using a spiral feeder like yours, but removing the balls from the nets first.

    Birdscape also are saying that feeding birds fatball [but not seed] during the breeding season should be considered because of the drastic fall in insect poplation [80% in the last 25 years]... almost all birds feed their young on protien rich insects... so feeding the tits, sparrows, etcetera during the breeding season means that the other non-garden birds have a larger stock to harvest.
    You can buy insect rich fatballs for the Spring and Summer from Amazon and other sources, viz: Vivara []....

  3. we have finally had success at getting birds to eat from the suet feeder. Now my husband has even ordered a special pileated woodpecker feeder....evidently designed with a perch for the long tail....we always have the beautiful large woodpeckers around so would be lovely to attract them closer.

  4. Lovely :)

    (Well, except for the part about the body disposal. Ha!)

  5. You don't mention any kind of reaction either Bertie or Tasha make. My cat, Matisse, gets really excited when the birds land on the balcony or railing while he is nearby. His whole body shakes and he makes some really strange sounds! Great photo!

    Mary in Oregon

  6. Great photo! I like the fat ball feeder, have not seen one like that. Great new photo of yourself too!

  7. mitch, many years ago, while a friend was here visiting, I pointed out a Great Tit on the deck. He said, "oh, I thought they always traveled in pairs."

    tim, I've never noticed a tit having a problem with the netting, and I'm always discarding the empties. But I did go out and remove them...

    melinda, we see them in our trees and, of course, hear them.

    judy, the realities of country living!

    mary, both Bert and Tasha just sit and watch. Like kids watching The Wizard of Oz.

    bettyann, I've had that for years, they're quite common around here.

  8. Walt, on behalf of the tit world, thanks... there have been many cases of tits dying with their feet entangled in that green netting.

    1. In 15 years of feeding them here that very way, we've never seen a tit die that way. We've seen them die from crashing into our windows, however. How can we prevent that? Black-out shades?

  9. When I lived in the midwest I loved feeding the birds. The colorful ones made a striking contrast to the gray/white of winter. I miss doing this. Feeding birds in Arizona isn't fun.

  10. And this makes me think of "The Mikado" and the song "Tit Willow".
    Happy New Year to you both!


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