I know that my local birds don't need my food. They can do just fine on their own. Hummingbirds become "addicted" to feeders, so once you start feeding them, you can't really stop without causing issues. But that's not true for the seed eaters.
After attending a talk by local Conservation Officer and bird lover, Glenn Naylor, I changed the food I feed my birds and now get many more birds that I used to. Turns out the only winter foods the birds around here eat are:
- peanuts, preferably shelled;
- black oil sunflower seeds, preferably shelled; or
- suet cakes.
- Red breasted Nuthatches (peanut pigs)
- White breasted Nuthatches
- Black Capped Chickadees
- Mountain Chickadees
- Boreal Chickadees
- Clark's Nutcrackers (pigs in general, but especially peanuts and suet)
- Blue Jays
- Downey Woodpeckers
- Pine Grosbeaks
- Chow down a suet cake in under 24 hrs. If I put out 2, they're both gone in 24 hrs.
- Jam a cup of shelled peanuts into their crop, fly away, then come back and do it again and again until the peanuts are all gone
- Take every peanut in the shell I give them, fly away with it, and come back for more. I now see squirrels plus other birds with peanuts in the shell, as they find where the Clarks are stashing them
- Fling everything out of a feeder to seek out just the peanuts.
|But they're pretty|
|Back to being mad|
So now I get daily shows of birds doing cool things.
|Male pine grosbeak|
|Red breasted Nuthatch with a peanut|
|Female Downy Woodpecker on the suet before the Clarks got to it|
|Male Downy inside the cage|
|That male making off with a peanut|
|De-bugging my fence|
Watching the intra-bird dynamics is interesting. Some don't mind having other birds in the cage. Some freak if ones fly by. The Nuthatches are quite happy to chase the Chickadees away. The Grosbeaks are normally tree feeders, but never go near the feeders, preferring to scour the ground for discards. If a Clarks is around, he'll chase other birds to try to get them to drop their peanuts. There's a suet cake hanging inside the cage, but for some reason, the Chickadees will try to eat from the one outside the cage in competition with the Clarks rather than use their own.