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Which bird seed?
#88517 March 13th, 2007 at 07:51 PM
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I want to put out some birdseed, but I want to be a bit more careful this year in what I put out. I usually just buy a big bag of "whatever" at Walmart, but last year we had what we *THINK* were Grackles. (They were black birds, largish with blue/purplish heads) that took over! They lived in the Martin house and ran all the cute little Finches out of the yard.

Any suggestions for feeding the smaller birds but things the bigger ones might not care for?

I don't know which birds I *should* be feeding, so if you can help me out there.... We like watching the Cardinals, but I've heard they can be bad??

Thanks in advance,
'Manda

Re: Which bird seed?
#88518 March 13th, 2007 at 09:18 PM
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If you had black birds with purplish heads living in your Martin House, CONGRATULATIONS!!! grinnnn muggs YOU HAVE PURPLE MARTINS!!!

Grackles do NOT live in houses......EVER!!!

The BEST bird seed to use is Black Oil Sunflower seed (BOSS) You can get a 50 pound bag of it at Tractor Supply Company (TSC) for about $12.00.

Put it on a flat surface like a tabletop or the ground to attract cardinals and house finches, or in a tube or hamper feeder to attract a wide VARIETY of birds. Make sure you set out suet cakes in a suet feeder. There is no real way to eliminate any unwanted species of birds EXCEPT to STOP feeding ALL birds ALTOGETHER. So just buy extra feed and enjoy whatever shows up.

Re: Which bird seed?
#88519 March 13th, 2007 at 10:21 PM
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I guess I should just say... "DUH" now. confused

Re: Which bird seed?
#88520 March 14th, 2007 at 12:51 AM
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manda, a mix of birds can never be bad, it's like a mix of flowers thumbup

but, that said, i don't know that i'd know a purple martin from a mourning dove! (not really, but i don't think i've ever seen one close enough to recognise it)

i am hoping to get some pics this year for thorny to identify for me!

Re: Which bird seed?
#88521 March 14th, 2007 at 03:56 AM
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Goldfinches love niger seeds...
*and that takes a special feeder, so all
those tiny seeds don't go out the holes...

And Suet is for attracting insect-eating birds...

And Nectar for the hummingbirds.
(and Oriole's love oranges.. my mom puts those
out for a pair here)

And Sunflower seeds are very high in protein,
that helps keep some fat on those birds in the winter time..

Popped popcorn, raisin's, mealyworms...

Safflower seeds are good for Nuthatches, Finches Cardinals & Grosbeaks....
*and my hamster's love'em too* wink

And don't forget sand.. they love things to "CHEW" up their foods for them, cause they ain't got no teeth..
(*like chickens)
so, even tiny pepples like, and even egg shells..
(and a bonus for the egg shells is Calcium)

Re: Which bird seed?
#88522 March 14th, 2007 at 04:00 AM
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Grow some Millet *the Purple Majesty is beautiful*, Coneflowers, let your rose's turn into rosehips, and the little bird's love sunflowers..

Re: Which bird seed?
#88523 March 14th, 2007 at 05:30 AM
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I plant patches of Black Oil Sunflowers and let them grow 'til they go to seed. Before the flowers go to seed, the bees, butterflies, and other insects love them. Once they go to seed, here come the American Goldfinches in droves to eat the seed right out of the flower heads. I get some GREAT photographs doing that. And they are about as easy as Zinnias or Marigolds to grow from seed; virtually foolproof.

Re: Which bird seed?
#88524 March 14th, 2007 at 12:17 PM
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That 'whatever' seed from walmart{and some grocery stores} is usually full of fillers. Since they arent a wildbird/farm/garden co (be real they sell alot just to make a profit who cares if its any good)
they dont care whats in the mix.
in the eastern US there are NO birds I know of that will eat milo. California Quail I have heard love it. I will NOT sell a mix at my store full of stuff the birds here dont eat. Walmart will cause it was a deal.
Like Thorny said Black Oil Sunflower is the mainstay of bird seed. {{Although I wish I could get it at $12 WHOLESALE up here in the northeast. Shop around for a good price in your area. And its price does fluctuate during the year}}
There are different mixes for different birds that should be fed different ways.
A mix with a good amount of millet and cracked corn is geared towards sparrows morning doves and other ground feedeing birds. Best served on the ground,a platform feeder, on a table...
One of just varios sunflower and nuts is better for chickadees, woodpeckers and other nut loving birds
{{I could go on for a long time on various mixes and who will come to them.......}}
The type of feeder also makes a difference. Cardinals are apparently clausterphobic so they like a very open feeder or platform, not a tube feeder or one with a cage to keep squirrels off.
{{WHAT did you hear bad about them?? Drives me nuts when people who dont know what theyre talking about state myth as fact mad }}
I've never seen a bird take popped popcorn, maybe a crow?? but OK.
Its nice to plump up raisins for early beryy eaters like robins, just soak in warm water till they plump up, then put out.
Mealworms if offered live need a smooth feeder they cant crawl out of. I also sell them dried and my chickadees and Wren LOVE them. I mix them right in with my sunflower nut mixture.
Another ++ to safflower is the squirrels dont like it so much.

{{I've lost track of what else I was going to say. This is a long post for me. I think its a record. More tea now. Feel free to ask more. Not a duh question. OH!! I 'member}}
WHen the grackles and other blackbirds first come to my yard it seems they like the grains the best, corn & millet in my yard. If I cut back on them they get a bit less interested.

Re: Which bird seed?
#88525 March 14th, 2007 at 12:23 PM
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Originally posted by Wrennie:
{{I've lost track of what else I was going to say. This is a long post for me. I think its a record. }}
We call that a case of the WEEZIE'S!!! gab gab gab gab gab gab gab gab

Re: Which bird seed?
#88526 March 14th, 2007 at 12:29 PM
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laugh gab

Re: Which bird seed?
#88527 March 14th, 2007 at 01:11 PM
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Thanks ever'body!!!

Thorn- I didn't think it was a Martin because my dad told me they would not move in since the Martin house is surrounded by trees. He suggested moving it down by the lake, but since I'm not very handy and there were birds in it (apparently Martins!! smile )
I figured why not just leave it for now?

Everyone else- We do have some bigger farm-style feed stores in the area that advertise bird seed mixes and I will have to check that out, thanks for all the tips!

I do have some pretty good photos of the birds we saw last year and will have to post them here to see if they matched what we *thought* they were.
My daughter is the birder in the family and got us all hooked. (She's 6 and carries around binoculars and a bird book or five all summer- seriously!)

Okay, now *I* forgot what else I was going to say!!! Well, anyway.... what is good for ducks? We have Mallards and we feed them bread, but I always think there must be something that might be healthier for them. They come right up to the back door and beg in the spring. In fact, we were excited because they were there waiting on us this morning- for the first time since late last summer!

-Manda

Re: Which bird seed?
#88528 March 14th, 2007 at 01:48 PM
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Here are photos of the situation last summer at the Martin House! The little brown birds had apparently moved into one, maybe two of the holes, and sometimes we would see the big black bird fly over and pitch a fit like you see in the second photo. We weren't sure if they were friends and the black bird was protecting the little birds, or if they were fighting for space.
[Linked Image]
[Linked Image]
And yes, the house is quite dilapidated- it was here when we moved here. It's still fll of old nests from last year and who knows when... I wondered if I should clean it, but looks like the little brown ones have moved back in this year!

Re: Which bird seed?
#88529 March 14th, 2007 at 02:44 PM
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Re-sized the photos in PB and re-posted the links. Let me know if they are still too big! shocked

Re: Which bird seed?
#88530 March 14th, 2007 at 02:56 PM
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The little brown ones are house sparrows who are notorious for taking over martin houses. There are actually traps to keep them out.
The beak on the big one looks too large for a martin or swallow. Possibly starling or cowbird, I dont think grackle, tail doesnt look wide enough. Its hard to see if there are any markings with it backlit.Do you remember any spots? Difference in head color?

Re: Which bird seed?
#88531 March 14th, 2007 at 03:11 PM
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What a cool picture of your bird house thumbup flw flw

Re: Which bird seed?
#88532 March 14th, 2007 at 03:11 PM
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Originally posted by dirt in my diamonds:
Re-sized the photos in PB and re-posted the links. Let me know if they are still too big! shocked
Thank~Youuuuuuuuu big bunches!!! thumbup

Re: Which bird seed?
#88533 March 14th, 2007 at 03:27 PM
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Sorry, my bad. Your irridescant black bird is a EUROPEAN STARLING. Your little brown sparrows are HOUSE SPARROWS. Both of these species are NOT native to the New World but were imported from Europe in the mid-Nineteenth Century and are devastating to native New World species, ESPECIALLY Purple Martins and Eastern bluebirds. You should PREVENT them from nesting by ANY means necessary. Clean the old nests out and repair the house.

Your dad is RIGHT!!! Purple Marins like to nest in HUGE colonies on high poles, AWAY from trees, near water like farm ponds or large lakes. Move your Martin house there and you may have better luck.

Here is a colony of Purple Martins I took a picture of last MAY at Couchville Lake at Long Hunter State Park in Nashville, Tn. This park is about 10 miles east of my house. The Martin house is mounted on the roof of a covered fishing platform on a fishing pier about 50 yards out in the middle of the lake. No trees, Just water, and HIGH in the air, about 20 feet above the surface of the water.

PURPLE MARTIN COLONY
[Linked Image]


[Linked Image]

You do NOT have to put the colony in the MIDDLE of a lake. Along the edge of a lake or pond is fine.

Re: Which bird seed?
#88534 March 14th, 2007 at 03:34 PM
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Oh I HATE cow birds--they take over my feeders this time of year mad :p

Re: Which bird seed?
#88535 March 14th, 2007 at 03:45 PM
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Okay, I have to ask.... why are Martins better than the other birds??

Re: Which bird seed?
#88536 March 14th, 2007 at 04:15 PM
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Martins are delightful. They eat thousands of insects, ESPECIALLY Mosquitoes ever day. They have delightful, bubbly ripply calls and have entertaining acrobatic aerial flight patterns. They have very communal and loving family groups. They are a joy to have around and are a great help to controlling a lot of dangerous insect pests. The person who is able to get a colony of Purple Martins established is VERY lucky!

Re: Which bird seed?
#88537 March 14th, 2007 at 04:26 PM
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What a great picture Thorny!!!

Re: Which bird seed?
#88538 March 14th, 2007 at 06:43 PM
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Quote
Originally posted by Thornius:
Martins are delightful. They eat thousands of insects, ESPECIALLY Mosquitoes ever day. They have delightful, bubbly ripply calls and have entertaining acrobatic aerial flight patterns. They have very communal and loving family groups. They are a joy to have around and are a great help to controlling a lot of dangerous insect pests. The person who is able to get a colony of Purple Martins established is VERY lucky!
ditto


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