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

Ask Birdsquatch: Cages and Feeders

Common grackles are a common nuisance at bird feeders.
Share:

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.

What do you think? Tell us!

comments powered by Disqus

New On This Site

The Latest Comments

  • Love listeningto both songs and calls from birds in our woody neighborhood. The two types of birds I immediately recognize are the cardinals and the chickadees. Yesterday afternoon too, I heard a woodpecker. Then it’s time to check the birdfeeders and the birdbath. Then In no time at all the cardinals and chickadees arrive, as if they had been watching me. As it gets busier around the feeders, I also hear thé screeching of the blue jays. I even saw a couple of robins checking out our lawn....spring has arrived as the last pat gesofisticeerde snow and ice melt away.
    by louisabt, Sun, 08 Mar 2020
  • I am wondering about existing nests for Phoebes. I have two outdoor aisle entries to my barn and there are old Phoebe nests up. They ignore them each year and build new nests adjacent to the old, but space is running out. Should I knock down the old nests so they can rebuild?
    by [email protected], Sun, 02 Feb 2020
  • Just wondering, should we put anything in the bottom of the box...twigs, clippings, leaves....anything at all?
    by Hebb, Tue, 28 Jan 2020
  • New to birding...newbie question. We spotted what we thought was a Sapsucker at our patio feeders in December. The folks at our birding supply store told us that Sapsuckers are only here in Summer months and what we saw was a Flicker. I thought I new what a Flicker was and this did not look like a Flicker. It was thinner and more smooth looking but did have the Woodpecker Bill.
    by Edmund Steinman, Wed, 08 Jan 2020
  • We just signed up and get your magazine via email. Will we be receiving a printed copy?Ed [email protected]
    by Edmund Steinman, Wed, 08 Jan 2020