The Quest For The Birdy Grail

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 4:35 pm

Man, I love bird season. The breathy chew-toy calls of bush tits as they swarm over the suet feeder. The robust “GLE-ert!” of flickers perched in the crowns of Douglas firs. Even the ungodly mess the starlings leave as they tear through their meal like it was their last.

Anyone who has been checking in on Birdie Cam might have noticed some changes there. We’ve made two new purchases in our eternal quest for the perfect bird feeder.

Standard-issue tube-style seed feeders are useless past about the second feeding station from the top; chaff from the first two stations gathers in the subsequent wells. It mixes with the rain—and maybe with birdie spit—to make a poultice that caulks shut the opening through which the seed passes. This means you’re constantly emptying out the bottom third of the feeder, cleaning the holes of their accumulated gunk, and refilling it.

We tried another style, a globular feeder called a “Cling-A-Wing”, and it worked pretty well. It holds a hell of a lot of seed, that’s for sure. But the birds didn’t simply cling to the edges of the entryways as described in the literature; they climbed inside, eating the seed and discarding the shells, thereby jamming up the feeder. Furthermore, the more aggressive birds seemed to perceive the thing as a territory to be defended, and chased all newcomers away. Additionally, the top opening was not completely moisture-proof (a bad trait for a Northwest bird feeder). The result is seeds sprouting or mildewing after heavy rains. Overall, the globe feeders turned out to be more of a hassle than the tube feeders.

I think we’ve finally found a winner. Recently we picked up a couple of new feeders from Wild Birds Unlimited. Shaped basically like a tube feeder, the sides are made from steel mesh, sized to hold in black oil sunflower seeds, but just barely. Birds can cling to the entire surface of the feeder wall, which means you can stick a lot of the little buggers to each feeder. They’re forced to reach through the mesh wall of the feeder and pull the seeds out, so crumbs don’t end up accumulating in the cylinder and jamming it up. And the large domed roof works both as a rain shield and a squirrel baffle; a nice touch.

It took our birds about two weeks to fully grasp the particulars of using the things, but not thhat they’re gotten the hang of it, they’re all over them. It’s kind of fun to watch four or five birds perched on the feeder all at once…and at all different angles. I know I was a little skeptical whether our local avian population would figure the things out, so when they did, I called the store where we bought them and gave them the URL of the Birdie Cam, so they could direct other concerned potential buyers our way.

So if you are in the market for a durable, well, designed, high volume bird feeder, check out Wild Birds Unlimited. And don’t forget to mention my name; it’s good for a puzzled look and a complete lack of recognition.

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