by: Chris Robertson
With a little imagination and very little effort, you can transform your backyard into a natural habitat for birds. Whether you're an avid birdwatcher, or simply want to invite nature a little closer to your home, birdfeeders put down the welcome mat for our avian friends.
According to the Audubon Society (.audubon.org), a bird feeder comes in one of four basic designs. Ground feeders are flat and open, have a screened bottom, and rest off the ground and should be situated ten feet from nearby trees or bushes so that birds can fly away from any predators. Ground feeders can be made squirrel proof by utilizing wire mesh over the bird feeder.
Tube birdfeeders are cylindrical in shape and typically have openings that allow birds to access the seeds. They should be hung off the ground and, for maximum enjoyment, near a window so that family members can witness the wild birds that come to visit.
Suet and hopper bird feeders are typically shaped like houses. A suet bird feeder, made for wild birds that peck at the seed mixed into the suet, is usually hung, while a hopper bird feeder can either be hung or placed on a post for easy access by wild birds. A hopper bird feeder contains a large quantity of seed, which is released when the wild bird steps on the feeder trigger. Hopper birdfeeders attract both small and large birds, including the cardinal.
Unlike the tube and hopper birdfeeders, the thistle bird feeder is designed with very small holes, allowing only small-beaked finches to access the food. Thistle birdfeeders should be hung, and can be made squirrel proof.
The Audubon Society also provides helpful tips on making your backyard friendly to hummingbirds by populating it with humming bird feeders. They suggest that you use several humming bird feeders and fill each with sugar water, being careful to avoid using red food coloring and honey. In addition, you should change the solution in the humming bird feeder weekly, or more often in hot weather.
It is certainly possible to make your own bird feeders, but there are several great birdfeeders available on the market, including those made by Droll Yankee, Opus, Woodllink, and Duncraft.
To get the most out of your bird watching experience, the Audubon Society suggests that you utilize several different types of bird feeders and that you place them at various heights and locations. In this way, you will attract a wide variety of wild birds. In addition, be sure that your efforts to create a backyard habitat don't harm the birds you are trying to attract. Keep birdfeeders three feet away from windows to avoid collisions, and make sure to keep your cat indoors.