Aug 25, 2015 | Featured Web Article

Putting Out the Welcome Mat

Looking for ways to make your backyard avian visitors feel at home? Try the suggestions below.
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Almost all migratory birds are experiencing population decreases due to loss of habitats and environmental contamination. Nonmigratory resident birds, too, are feeling the effects of the growing human population. This is not a call to rally on the White House lawn. You can do your part in your own backyard. Here are some suggestions:

1. Keep your yard as chemical-free as possible.

2. If you must quest for the perfect lawn, keep one area untreated and let it grow nice and weedy. The birds (and other creatures) will love it.

3. Clean your bird feeders and bird bath regularly to prevent the spread of disease.

4. Offer only as much food on platform feeders (or on the ground) as can be eaten in one day. Old food can get wet, spoiled, and can carry disease.

5. Provide housing for cavity-nesting birds.

6. Plant and maintain your property for other creatures like bats, butterflies, reptiles, and mammals.

7. Keep cats indoors or take them out on a leash. Domestic cats kill millions of songbirds annually. This tragic toll can be easily reduced. Bells on collars don't work. Stealthy cats can hunt without making them jingle.

8. Prevent window strikes (birds flying into large windows) by placing screening over problem windows. Flying birds cannot discern reflection from reality. Large glass windows reflect the surrounding habitat. Anything placed over the window breaks up the reflection and birds aren't fooled by the illusion. One particularly effective solution is to use FeatherGuard.

9. Pick up trash, such as rusty cans, plastic bags, fishing line, six-pack rings, and so on. Birds can become entangled or even be choked by these unnatural items.

If you realize that you're already doing all these things for birds in your backyard, you should be enjoying plenty of birds already! In that case, you may want to branch out beyond your backyard to find and care for a greater variety of birds.

On the other hand, if some or all of these ideas and suggestions are new to you, get ready for some real fun. Your yard is about to become as busy as a shopping mall on December 24.

What do you think? Tell us!

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  • I have experienced this when a house wren punctured 5 blue bird eggs last spring in our blue bird box. Then I hung out a wren box by the trees and he got busy filling it and left the bluebirds alone and they successfully raised another brood!
    by Susan, Sun, 07 Apr 2019
  • I also have several turkeys that live in the woods behind me. They visit early morning and near sundown. Living in the country with a mountain and brook behind my house, I have animals visiting 24hrs a day. My turkeys are awesome. They know me and wait for their breakfast. They hop up on my patio wall to look in my windows. I also noticed the 2 birds that are the lookouts. They come over to eat as the others march across my lawn to my neighbor who also feeds the animals. We also have coyotes that, I am sure, have eaten turkey dinner. The squirrels run around and chase them to protect their seeds and cracked corn. I feed my 3 raccoons peanut butter jelly sandwiches, which they share with a possum and 3 skunks, at the same time, by the way. No food goes into my garbage. Meat scraps go to crows and hawks. Everything else, even soup, gets eaten before the sun is completely set. That keeps bears away if no dishes are there to entice. I break up bread in tiny pieces now and turkeys 'gobble' it up. So happy to find another person that enjoys wildlife. Nothing is more satisfying than walking out side and spotting Daisy the skunk, calling her name and watching her tripping all over herself, running to meet you. Thank you for your valuable information.
    by Stella Kachur, Wed, 27 Mar 2019
  • This is exactly my experience. The local feed store had some on sale so I thought I'd try some. Actually I was shocked at how it is avoided, and I've been feeding birds for more than 40 years. I suppose I've never had it out as the ONLY food source, but when I put it out along with the blackoil, peanuts, cracked corn and suet cakes, absolutely nothing would touch it. Even when I dumped some on the ground the rabbits wouldn't eat it, nor would the squirrels. Eventually some turkeys and deer ate some--when they could find nothing else underneath the other feeders. But even they left plenty on the ground which they NEVER do with cracked corn, sunflower, etc.Every person should try some if they're inclined and decide for themselves since every situation may be a bit different, but for me/my species, safflower is a big no.
    by Colin Croft, Sun, 03 Mar 2019
  • I have questions about the Zick Dough? It says not to use in cold weather. It is still in the 40s here. Too soon? How long should I expect a supply to last? And, use a tray feeder? Thanks.
    by martindf, Sun, 25 Nov 2018
  • Glad I found this. I'm a snowbird and was worried about all the birds that come to feed at my birdfeeder. I have Cardinals, sparrows, doves, Blue Jays, chickadees. I hope they'll find food elsewhere while I'm gone.
    by Donna, Sat, 03 Nov 2018