Jim Williams has been watching birds and writing about their antics since before "Gilligan's Island" went into reruns. Join him for his unique insights, his everyday adventures and an open conversation about the birds in your back yard and beyond.

Trees shelter feeder birds

Posted by: Jim Williams under Bird conservation, Bird feeding, Birds in the backyard Updated: November 18, 2010 - 10:10 AM

We’ve finally settled on a permanent location for the bird feeders in our backyard. This after eight years of moving here and there. Our concern was the seed-debris mess left each spring as sunflower-seed hulls accumulated on the ground (grass) over winter. We’re now in a part of the yard where longer grass and less concern for appearance exist. The location meets all basic requirements: We can easily see the feeders from convenient windows in the house; we can easily fill the feeders; squirrels can’t jump from any tree to the feeders; and the birds accept the location. I think we’ve also added an important criteria: there now is a nearby coniferous tree – a white cedar – that offers the birds shelter when they’re approaching the feeders or when they’re eating. Shelter in this situation is protection from predators, an important consideration if you’re a bird. The cardinals that feed with us usually land on the cedar before proceeding to the sunflower seeds they seek. Chickadees almost always take seeds from the feeder to another location to eat. They want to perch on a surface that allows them to hold the seed with their feet while they hack it open. The cedar is perfect for that. It’s 10 feet from the feeders, a flight that costs little energy, and it keeps them hidden while they eat. Other species eat at the feeders, but use the cedar as cover coming in and when alarm scatters them from the feeders for a moment or two. You’re likely to attract more birds to your feeders if cover of some kind is nearby. Almost any tree or large shrub will work, although conifers likely are best because of their year-round foliage. The photo shows a Black-capped Chickadee working on a seed deep inside that cedar tree.

 

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