Birding and more...Newsletter
2010 / Issue 6


At any given time, Elaine and I will have about 15 feeders on the go in our garden.
ly this will include 4 tube feeders with Nyger seed, 3 hopper style feeders with Safflower seed, a peanut feeder, a couple of mixed seed feeders (inside cages - to keep the Starlings and Grackles out), a 'plug' feeder with suet or peanut butter, an open tray feeder with peanuts in the shell (this is primarily for the Blue Jays), plus a number of suet feeders or hummingbird feeders (depending on the time of year). The result is a nice array of different birds visiting our garden all year round. This article will help you select the right feeders and show you how to place them in your garden so that they will attract the birds you want without any trouble from Squirrels, Starlings, Grackles, or Pigeons. In a future article I'll go into more detail about how to achieve harmony with the so-called 'pests', but for now let's talk about the various feeder types and how to deploy them. The three best feeders to start with are Nyger seed, Safflower seed, and the Hummingbird feeders. These feeders will bring you Finches, Chickadees, Doves, Siskins, Redpolls, Grosbeaks, Cardinals, and of course Hummingbirds. You can hang these feeders anywhere without any trouble from the Squirrels, Starlings, Grackles, or Pigeons. Where it starts to get a little bit trickier, is when you decide to introduce mixed seed, peanuts,  millet, and suet. Those foods will attract the Woodpeckers, Blue Jays, Juncos, Sparrows, and Nuthatches, but they will also lure the Squirrels, Starlings, Pigeons, and other less desirables. All peanut and mixed seed feeders should be hung by rope from a branch of a tree so that the feeder is at least 4 feet off the ground and 10 feet from the nearest fence or tree trunk (to keep squirrels from jumping onto them). They can also be hung from hooks on poles equipped with squirrel baffles. We also suggest 'caging' the mixed seed feeders to keep the bigger birds out - to give the little birds a chance. Finally, we also have platform feeders for birds that like to feed on or near the ground - but these are inevitably shared with the Squirrels - no way around it. However, we like the Squirrels too, and by giving them their own feeding stations they co-exist very nicely with all the fine feathered visitors that we all like so much.


Pictures of the week
A Tree Swallow feeding its young

These great photos were taken by
Bob McPherson, in his backyard.

The nest is a discarded mailbox that Bob  renovated into a 2 unit condo, and the tenants return every year!

The Readers Patch is a space for your photos, stories, and/or comments.
Send anything you'd like to share with us to:


Did you know that the bird with the largest wings in the world is the Wandering Albatross with a wingspan of 11'11''  - wow!!



1. Empty, and discard old seed.
2. Use a butter knife or similar shaped utensil to scrap away stuck on seed and dirt.
3. Spray and brush the feeder with a solution of 9 parts water to 1 part vinegar.
4. Rinse vigorously.
5. Dry thoroughly before refilling with seed.
Feeders should be cleaned regularly to protect birds that visit your feeders from bacterial infection and the spread of disease.

     What's New this week

BIG NEWS!! We have moved the "Birding and more..." website to a new (and hopefully much better) web hosting service!!  We are very excited!
Maybe now the website will be up and available all the time, and the galleries, blog, and emails will all work without a hitch (fingers crossed).

Send us an email and let us know if you're not seeing the new site with your browser (you'll be able to tell because the old site has a "Notice" on the main page saying we're moving to a new hosting service - the new site doesn't).

Peanut Butter Mix for Birds

Is plain peanut butter a danger to birds?

Although there is no conclusive evidence to support the belief that birds can choke on peanut butter, we always mix ours before putting it out in the plug feeder.

We combine 'crunchy' peanut butter with cornmeal, mixed together until it is the consistency of cookie dough.

You can add seeds, bits of dried fruit, raisins, and/or chopped nuts to the mix.

It is a favourite with almost all the birds, and also the squirrels, so be careful to place the feeders where the squirrels can't reach them - or if you happen to like the squirrels (the way we do) crumble a little on the platform feeders as a treat for them too!


True or False?

1. Most birds have a well refined sense of smell.

2. Male canaries sing much better than females.

3. The Mute Swan is the heaviest flying bird in the world.

4. Some birds can fly backwards.

5. The most common bird in the world is the House Sparrow.

Name these Ontario birds:

Answers to this quiz can be found at


It's always been my dream to have a bird/wildlife-friendly garden and thanks to the wonderful man who is my husband, that dream is coming true. I love the natural look rather than shaped and sheared, and having a wildlife-friendly garden caters to my preference! As I mentioned in the last “Elaine's Corner” (Issue 5), I prune only if necessary – either because it's a shrub that must be pruned, like the Butterfly Bush, or there is old or dead wood that should be removed. The shrubs I choose are, for the most part, shrubs that look best left to grow naturally.

One of my all-time favourites is the Honeysuckle bush – we have three, so far. It's a standard for attracting hummingbirds and once the berries set, others enjoy the fruit. A couple of new shrubs, for me, are the Chokeberry and the Nannyberry. We've planted two Nannyberry bushes – apparently there needs to be two for pollination – and one Chokeberry. The Chokeberry is covered with beautiful, small, airy white flowers in the spring and looks like a wispy cloud that has dropped to earth. It's now been added to our favourites list too. They both have dark, purplish fruit in the fall which birds relish. Squirrels seem to love the Chokeberry fruit as well and as soon as they appear, they're gone! (Once the shrub has grown a bit larger, I'm su
re there will be enough for the birds to get some too... ) These berry-producing shrubs are not the only shrubs for the birds. Last fall we planted a couple of Holly shrubs, Blue Prince and Blue Princess, and hope that as they grow the berries and leaves will provide all season cover when needed. We've also provided a Wichita-Blue Juniper and a couple of Mint Julep Junipers so that the birds will have some shrubbery for protection in the winter.

In addition to the above, we've included several shrubs just because we like them and I'll tell you about them in the next newsletter, so stay tuned!

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    Copyright © 2010 Garry Kirsch                                                          

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