Dec 4, 2019 | Featured in: Watching Backyard Birds, October 2019

Ask Birdsquatch: Cages and Feeders

Common grackles are a common nuisance at bird feeders.
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Dear Birdsquatch:

Help!!!! I read in Bird Watcher's Digest that a cage could be put around feeders to keep grackles from hogging all of the birdseed. It called for a two-inch square wire mesh screen or fencing that was readily available at hardware stores. It is not available around here. When I searched the internet, I could only find it in 100-foot rolls, which is much more than I need, and pricey. Perhaps I'm not using the correct search terms.

I tried using 1x2 mesh, but the cardinals wouldn't go through it. So I cut several 2x2 windows in the mesh, but still the cardinals wouldn't enter. I tried painting the edges of the windows to make them easier to find. Still no luck. Any insight you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

—Nancy L., Kingston, Tennessee

Dear Nancy,

BIRD WATCHER'S DIGEST?!? Next to Watching Backyard Birds, that's my favorite magazine! You can trust any information you read in it, I assure you.

My friend Gary told me he was able to find some affordable 2x2 wire mesh, sold by the linear foot, on the Internet.

Would it be possible for you to cut more windows into the mesh? My Squatchy sense tells me that cardinals might feel trapped in there if they don't think there are ample escape routes—which means many 2x2-inch windows.

What kind of food did you offer in the feeder, and how long did you leave this cage around your feeder before you gave up? I suspect that the cardinals were leery of this new contraption, but given enough time and an irresistible treat such as sunflower hearts, I'm confident they'd get their courage up to venture through the mesh to snag a tasty morsel.

Lots of commercial bird feeder manufacturers offer such cages to surround tube feeders to exclude squirrels, starlings, and grackles, but this comes at a cost: jays and woodpeckers are too big to pass, too. I haven't seen the design of your cage, of course, but in theory, this should work to deter grackles, but still admit cardinals and smaller birds. I encourage you to give it more time, expand the number of windows, and maybe rethink the seeds you offer. Kudos to you for buying more affordable wire and MacGyvering the hole size.



About Birdsquatch

Birdsquatch is WBB's tall, hairy, and slightly stinky columnist. He is a bigfoot who has watched birds all his life. His home range is unknown.

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