Home Map and Hours Classes and Events Employment

Welcome to Tagawa's Blog

Saturday, January 12, 2013

If you feed them, they will come!

     It's 13* outside right now, but there's a party going on in my back yard.  A bird party.... a delightful feeding frenzy of sweet birds, many of them singing their hearts out on this cold winter day.  And why not?  They have plenty to eat, lots of shelter and water in their birdbaths.  (We'll talk more about the water in a minute.)

Choosing feeders and food    

     There are so many different types of bird feeders on the market.  Tagawa's has a huge assortment, and an experienced staff to help you choose the one that's just right for you and the birds you want to attract.

     Tube feeders can accomodate several small birds at one time.  My feeders are a neighborhood gathering place for chickadees, finches, sparrows and many more.  I was delighted to see a group of red-winged blackbirds zipping around the back yard just last week.

     Tube feeders with thumb-sized ports or openings are great for a seed mixes.  Tagawa's sells mixes both bagged and in bulk.  They're excellent for attracting a broad assortment of birds. 

     When in doubt, let the birds load up on plenty of black oil sunflower seeds.  The oil in the seeds gives the birds much-needed fat, which is especially helpful in winter and early spring.

     If you're fond of finches, then your bird buffet definitely should include niger thistle.  Finches can't resist this oh-so tiny black seed. 

     Thistle feeders can be very simple, such as a long mesh stocking hung in just the right spot.  Or they can be more sophisticated.  I have two bright yellow thistle feeders made out of recycled plastic.  It took the finches maybe twenty minutes to spot them.

     And I made a lovely discovery this past summer.  If I fill the feeders with a combination of thistle and sunflower chips from Tagawa's, I get a whole different set of visitors in addition to the finches:  red-shafted flickers, downy woodpecker and hairy woodpeckers.  What fun!!  

Pass the suet, please

     Birds that dine on insects during mild weather will "flock" to suet feeders any time of year.  If birds could shop, the chickadees, nuthatches, thrushes and blue jays would be lined up at Tagawa's "Seed Shack."  They'd have a hard time choosing from the variety of suet options we offer, including suet cakes that are spiced with hot pepper flavoring.  The birds don't give a hoot about the spicey tang, but the squirrels are another matter.  They'll leave the suet alone.  As for my yellow Lab, "Vinny," if it's within reach, suet of any shape, size or flavor would be welcome.  Place your suet cakes accordingly.
     For the safety of the birds, set up your feeders near.... but not in, trees and large shrubs.  This will help the birds see the feeder, so you get more "traffic," but it also gives the birds a safe place to shelter from predators that try to pop in for a quick bite.

Speaking of shelter...

     Trees, especially conifers, act as a magnet for birds, both in summer and winter.  I think one of the reasons my feeders are so busy is because there are nearly two dozen mature trees in my back yard.  Most of them are conifers... Ponderosa pine, blue spruce and fir.  At times, it's like Grand Central back there, as the birds come and go, taking turns at the feeders.

     And for the record, while they're basking in warmer climates at the moment, hummingbirds are regular  guests in my pine trees all summer long.  Planting trees, making sure to get the right tree in the right place, is a big plus for the birds and for your property value.  Tagawa's nursery staff can help you choose the purr-fect tree to enchance your landscape.... and your bird population.

Don't forget the water....

     Water is essential for birds in winter, both for drinking and for bathing.  I shiver to watch, but the birds just love to bathe and splash about whenever fresh water is offered.  The temperature doesn't seem to matter to them.

      Tagawa's has bird bath heaters that keep the water from freezing, even on frigid days like this.  I got into the habit long ago of using plastic pot saucers as  inserts in my bird baths.  When the water freezes, I give the saucers a hard twist and the ice pops out, just like the old plastic ice cube trays.  (I date myself, but they do work....!)  Still a bird bath heater would be easier, and I wouldn't have to head out back with a bucket of water several times a day.  I need to look into that....

Do the birds and yourself a favor.

     Don't assume that the joys of songbirds are just a fair-weather activity.  Set a feeder, or two or three, out in your own yard, where you can watch these lovely creatures come and go.  Somehow, it makes it feel as if spring isn't so far away afterall. 



No comments: