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What’s The Best Birdseed To Use For Fall Feeding?
Posted on Thursday, October 20, 2011 by eNature
Chickadees are common visitors to backyard feeders
Chickadees are common visitors to backyard feeders
Dark eyed Junco
Dark eyed Junco

This is about the time of the year when most people think about feeding birds in their backyards. We’re not sure why this happens only in autumn, because feeding birds throughout the year has many rewards. Yet, autumn is the time when bird seed sales are held, and bird feeders are promoted most widely.

Perhaps, it’s the notion that birds need more help in cold weather, and therefore, bird feeding is more popular in winter. Whatever the reason, the bird feeding season is on, and people are buying lots of bird seeds.

The kind of seeds you offer backyard birds makes a difference, because all birds don’t eat the same foods.

If there is one kind of seed that is most attractive to the greatest number of backyard birds, it would be sunflower in any form. Sunflower seeds are relished by finches, grosbeaks, cardinals, jays, and even some species of woodpeckers.

The two most popular forms of sunflower seeds for birds are the black oil sunflower seed, which is in the shell, and the hulled (medium cracked) sunflower seed, which is out of the shell. eNature’s bird expert, George Harrison, tells us that if he could feed only one kind of bird food in his backyard, it would be hulled sunflower seeds.

Other popular seeds for finches, include niger (thistle), also spelled nyjer, a tiny black seed that is offered in a tube feeder with tiny port holes.  Safflower seeds are a favorite among cardinals, doves, and house finches. And the various wild bird seed mixes are eaten by sparrows, doves, juncos, and blackbirds.

So don’t miss out on having a busy backyard this fall.  If you leave bird seed out, it’s almost certain to get found.

What do you do this time of year to attract or (as some of us like to say) take care of your local birds?

We always appreciate hearing your hints, suggestions and stories.  Just leave your thoughts below in the comments.

And have fun with the birds this fall!



I feed birds year around and offer sunflower
nijer and safflower in different feeders and i also provide unsalted peanuts in the shell for the blue jays and squirrels.

Posted by Richard Stickel on 10/21

We have many species year round out here and they all will eat just about anything we provide. Normally we have two suet feeders for our woodpeckers but most of the others enjoy it as well. We also put cracked corn in a couple which isnt a favorite with the little ones but the larger will empty it fast. We do put out peanuts and shell corn for the squirrels and Crows. All are welcome here and guests sit bewildered watching their antics. a wonderful thing.

Posted by Leslie on 10/21

The only seed mix that our squirrels don’t eat is Safflower and Niger (thistle) seeds mixed together. Many songbirds love this mix.

Posted by L. Neal on 10/21

Unfortunately, due to the black bears in my area, we cannot feed birds year-round.  I find the wild berry mix and the sunflower seeds attract my feathered friends the best.  I really hate that tiny filler seed they throw into a lot of the birdseed blends, so I tend to steer away from those.

Posted by Laurie D on 10/21

When we lived in Carlsbad, CA we had a plate on the coffee table and the Scrub Jays use to come in and feed in the living room. Sometimes fight broke out and Jay’s flew after each other in the living room. Crows, my personal favorites would take peanuts from the Patio outside coming sideways, suspicious. When we left, we found the Jays had cached peanuts behind the couch. They felt so at home. My wife called “Bob!” every time one came. One day I saw one on a nearby roof. I screamed “Bob!” and he flew down landing on a fence next to me looking at me and his scratchy voice saying something to me.

Her in Philadelphia, PA I can’t feed the Jays as in California because of mosquitoes in summer and cold in winter. Birds flying in the living room is just a memory. The feeders get moldy. I threw away the store bought feeder and made my own. I hang a fine mesh colander with another smaller on in where I put the seeds. Messy eater cause most to fall in the big one and the rain pass threw. No more mold!

Posted by Albert Reingewirtz on 10/21

Along with shelled sunflower seeds, we like to keep a small, terra cotta saucer filled with water nearby. The small saucer is so easy to clean and replace with fresh water every day. We continue to have warm days in our area during the fall. Having water near the feeders seems to attract more birds.

Posted by Janet K. on 10/21

I used to spend a lot on unsalted, uncooked peanuts in the shell, in addition to a variety of thistleseed, wild bird seed and black oil sunflower seeds, PLUS spread peanut butter on a branch/trunk of a tree for woodpeckers.  It seemed Starlings would swarm in by the flock and wipe it all out in a matter of minutes.  Although I enjoyed the wide variety of birds I could identify, I had to back off on the offerings for quite a while before those pesky Starlings moved on and found their bounty elsewehere.

Posted by D. Greer - Salt Lake City on 10/21

I would prefer to feed birds year round, but I have such problems with groundhogs and raccoons that have taken up residence in my yard that feeding birds is impossible.  In fact, when I do attempt to feed birds, the birds still don’t get any food, and all I end up feeding are the groundhogs and raccoons.

Posted by David K on 10/21

I had problems with raccoons. BY chance I discovered a bait they can’t resist. I dug a fish pond and I have a seat/ container where the reserve of fish pellets is stored. The raccoon opened to seat and fed on the fish pellets The looked at me looking at them while eating the fish pellets on evening. I bought a Haveaheart trap and put fish pellets in a dish in it. In one months I trapped 9 raccoons! I ended up spray painting the raccoons side to see if there were repeaters. (I release them somewhere else so someone else can relocate them back. The city is of no help. If you see a raccoon with his right behind glowing red, you’ll know he used to visit my backyard. A rock is permanently on top of the bench/storage.

Posted by Albert Reingewirtz on 10/21

I adore birds of every variety. I have been imitating bird songs/ calls since I was a kid & am able to identify them long before I see them. 

However & several times daily, I worry that each time I am feeding them, I am sharing GMO products that have invaded our global food systems courtesy of MonsantNO. Given that the MN producer’s website prefers to keep their “proprietary” data hidden, I & my backyard wildlife families, are left wanting.

Are NOT black sunflower seeds &/or maize exclusive & “proprietary” to Mother Nature & Her “Natural Laws?”  More importantly, Organic/ Natural food CAN NEVER be patented by criminal corporations as that would be the Highest VIOLATION of Her Natural Order & Her Natural Laws?

Considering the food I consume is so damn full of GMOs, is it not better to eat something rather than go hungry & potentially starve? 

Such is the flawed logic I use everytime I put anything in my mouth &/or share seed with my backyard families.  I reason, something is always better than nothing.

Posted by VocalWitness in WI on 10/21

The best way to feed birds is through native plants.  A variety of native plants will host the insects that the birds need for protein.  Other varieties will provide the seed or berries to help them through the winter & spring months.  I suggest everyone read “Bringing Nature Home” by Dr. Douglas W. Tallamy, a wonderful book on how native plants sustain wildlife in our gardens.  I still put some suet out in the fall, winter and spring, making sure there are no artificial additives.

Posted by Gina Erb on 10/21

The post here by the guy that spray paints racoons shows you that there are animal abusers all around us.  Feeding birds but abusing other species?  Why?  Paints have solvents that are toxic and pigments that are toxic.  What is not toxic to a human based on our body weight can be toxic to lower body weight species. 

Further, animals usually do not survive being “relocated” due to territorial nature of species.  They will be attacked by others in the territory they are placed.  Do NOT relocate animals due to selfish motivation. 

A sad day to read of someone spray painting animals. What next, keeping them in captivity?

Posted by Tom on 10/21

Can you buy genetically nonmodified seeds?  In our State, there is a ban on labelling of that kind so it is not possible to know if seed is genetically modified.  Any states where you can buy GMO free seed by mail order?

Posted by Sue T. on 10/21

Very funny! He calls me an animal abuser for spray painting a touch on the behind of a raccoon. If you knew anything about animals within a week or two the paint will be gone. If you like raccoons in your backyard great, feed them so they will live me and go to you. The best way to deal with raccoon humanely is to relocate them. If you know a better way please tell us. I started this touch up of paint when I realized we had an infestation and maybe I was catching the same one’s. I didn’t. You sound like an enlightened person who would free lab rats, prefer women testing cosmetics instead of rabbits. You sound like a very interesting case.

Posted by Albert Reingewirtz on 10/21

The “best way” to manage raccoons is not to relocate them, it is to avoid providing them with routine food sources.This means putting a secure lid on garbage cans, not leaving food out for cats et al, not leaving garbage bags exposed outside of a garbage can.  In many neighborhoods, people ignore these basic tips, and that is why they have raccoon “problems”.  Talk to your neighbors if you aren’t the problem.  Raccoons aren’t a “problem” until humans problems become animal problems.  Same reason plants are not “weeds” until a human comes along and declares them weeds.

Posted by Sara on 10/21

If you can point to a professional’s written advice that says spray painting raccoons is somehow suitable practice, please do so. I am not aware of this as accepted practice.

Posted by Mark Dolan on 10/21

“Unfortunately for the animal, relocation has a number of bad side effects.
1. Relocated animals must find new food sources in an unfamiliar environment.

2. Relocated animals must find new shelter in an unfamiliar environment. In the winter time, relocated wildlife have precious little time to find shelter.

3. Relocated animals must do number 1 and 2 above while avoiding predators. It must also do those tasks before weather, food and water conditions take their toll.

4. Your relocation may result in the deaths of young through starvation that have now lost their mother from your relocating her away from her young.

5. Relocating animals raises the risk of relocating a disease like rabies to new and uninfected locales. Like what happened with the Mid Atlantic Rabies Outbreak.

6. It may also be illegal in your state. Presently, Massachusetts, Connecticut and possibly others have some sort of ban on the translocation of wildlife.”

A quick check finds this advice from numerous experts.

Posted by Tom on 10/21

In fact there is no such a thing as a secure cover on garbage cans. My garbage can in fact was shewed up to gain entry to the garbage. As a matter of fact no eating anything is in that can. I recycle everything. I have a composter inaccessible to raccoons. The garbage disposal stupidity is never used in my home. I know of no other appliance more useless than this one.

Posted by Albert Reingewirtz on 10/21

You bore me!

Posted by Albert Reingewirtz on 10/21

Where I live not only do the authorities advise to relocate Raccoons but they tell you where to do it: In parks! (I live in the suburbs of Philadelphia)

Posted by Albert Reingewirtz on 10/21

Food source control management is sustainable.  Relocation practices are not.

Posted by Observer on 10/21

I fed the birds for many years but had to stop two years ago when the bird seed attracted rats!  They climbed partway up poles and would leap onto the feeder spilling much onto the ground for other rats.  Even ones I hung from trees attracted the rats just from the seeds spilled. 

I really miss feeding the birds—now I just have hummingbird feeders in my yard.  Everyone talks about squirrels getting into their feeders, but rats????  Anyone else have this problem?

Posted by Nancy Nelson on 10/21

I’m fond of all animals and believe they all have a right to be here. Humans, sadly, have displaced so many that they now feel right at home in our backyards. However, there is no comparison to feeding birds and feeding raccoons, and everything should be done to discourage raccoons from living in our yards, including relocation. The “experts” may not like it, but I’m sure they don’t want to take a chance on rabies spreading in their yard either. Relocation is a better choice than shooting them.  I don’t keep food within their reach, except for the pears, apples, grapes and figs that grow right under their noses. I’m not chopping down my trees.

Posted by gmb on 10/21

I used to feed the birds year around.  I have had a count of over 100 different visitors to my yard over the years. But with the rise of ethanoal and the demand on grains it has created, the price of birdseed(black oil sun flower) has gone from $10 to $32.00 for a 50 lb. bag. This is in less than 2 years. Now the cheap stuff is $12(used to be $5) for a 25 lb bag. We have lots of native plants around I hope they can find the food they need.  Is this the silent spring caused by the greenies?? It is sure quiet around my house now. My car runs dirty too on that stuff.
Al Gores silent spring, summer, fall, and winter.

Posted by Silent year on 10/21

I had the exact same problem with rats. I raised the feeders and trimmed the bushes under them.  Then I purchased a new kind of rat and mouse trap. Believe it or not they improved the mouse trap! It is an amazing contraption made of plastic and metal made by Ortho. No fumbling, just click in and place the trap facing a wall. Unbelievable how efficient. The “animal lover” is going to be all over me again!

Posted by Albert Reingewirtz on 10/21

We host two ponds that are filled by overflow from our artesian well. The water comes out of the ground at about 50 degrees so the birds flock to the outflow pipe all winter. We leave the seed heads on coneflowers and sunflowers and other perennials, and have a good mix of evergreen and twiggy shrubs for cover. In very long cold spells we throw piles of sunflower seeds on the ice banks near the pond. Due to bears, feeders get torn down even if they are empty, except the thistle feeders. Even those get raided sometimes. We also host a compost pile in the woods away from the house. Lots of critters visit and the birds love citrus peels and other fruit trimmings. This would not work in the burbs but out here on 15 acres, it’s just fine.

Posted by Sheila at Coppertoppe Inn on 10/21

I feed the birds year around and only use seed from our local wild bird stores. My yard is certified as an official backyard wildife habitat with about eight feeders, three hummingbird feeder and eight bird baths - two of them heated over winter. Though I have some non-native plants, most of the landscaping I have provided have been native plants which offer wildlife benefits. Here is a link to a short video I’ve posted on Youtube:

Posted by Ernie McLaney on 10/21

Everybody has the same strange idea that they “need” to feed the birds. Replace this “Need” by crafting a sentence that implies that you want “to see” the birds.  A “bird feeder” is what confuses people regarding the reason to put seeds in the feeder. I know why I do it. I want to see birds while eating breakfast. I put enough seeds in the “feeders” so that everybody will come while we are eating. After that let them work for a living. The cost of bird seeds then takes a strange unimportant meaning.

Posted by Albert Reingewirtz on 10/21

Living in an Apartment Building causes conflict in what to feed and which seed to put in feeders.

However, I asked one resident that was taking care of Hummingbird feeders why they were empty. She informed me they migrate and if the feeders are full, they wouldn’t leave and would get caught in the frigid weather.

If this is true, what happens to the ones that are passing through? Do they migrate another way?

Thanks for sharing all your great knowledge.

Posted by Rita Ryan on 10/21

As for racoons?  Treat them with christian kindness. Baptize them by pushing them under water three times and pulling them back out twice!

I’m reminded of a day several years ago when my spinster neighbor and I were watching the birds feed.  Suddenly a hawk came screaming through at a high rate of speed.  “Quick”, she said to me, “Get your Shotgun!”

I replied, “Now Beth, you know that this is a bird feeder and that hawk was hungry!

Posted by Mike McKinney on 10/21

I propose changing the name from hummingbird feeder to Hummingbird attracting device to end people’s confusion. I have not taken my hummingbird down yet and it is still full with something by now with all the rain. The hummingbirds here are already gone for a month. They know when it’s time to leave and come back if you have an attracting device or not.

Posted by Albert Reingewirtz on 10/21

Hummers indeed do know when the time has come to migrate,BUT we have hummers whose territory is pushing north..the Annas, without looking after them all winter they would surely die. Just a reminder that some birds will not eat from a high feeder, instead are ground feeders,the Towhee comes to mind, very shy birds too.

Posted by Maureen Boncey on 10/21

I had a friend who had set up 3 bird feeders on poles in his yard. They were so happy showing me all the birds coming and going. “We live in a fantastic place look at this!”

About a week later I visit and no bird feeders in the yard. What happen? She said to me this:
“We were seating enjoying the sight of so many different birds coming and going. It was wonderful. Suddenly a bird of prey came out of nowhere and grabbed a cute little bird. We were in shock! So we took the bird feeders down because we do not want to be partners in a crime.”

It is amazing how humanity got so separated from the reality of nature. How do they think falcons and hawks feed? It was already a few days after the event and she was still all shook up.

Posted by Albert Reingewirtz on 10/21

We keep a bowl of wild bird mix (lots of sunflower seeds included) on the patio and enjoy watching jays, pigeons, ravens and smaller birds gather to feed.  Most fun is that a few of the scrub jays have figured out who is providing and will come up to me and take peanuts from my hand.  They won’t even shy away when there is a dog with me or if I am holding a horse.  They are BOLD and very demanding.

We used to have families of raccoons feed on cat food left out.  But they are gone and we no longer let cats out because the coyotes have really multiplied and become bold.

Posted by Eileen Walker on 10/21

We have lots of shrubs so small birds have a fair chance to evade predators. However, our local crow clan mostly keeps the hawks away. If you have bird feeders, do like our friends and attach a twiggy branch or small tree to the feeder pole or a nearby structure. Hawks will not dive where they are likely to get their wings tangled. The branches also make convenient places for birds to perch to crack and eat their seeds. A proper habitat has a variety of shelters and accessess. Birds may not need our food, but as one person said, we attract them because we enjoy them. To be a good friend of wild creatures, study their needs and integrate with the environment. WE are nature, too, you know. We eat, they eat, and if we want to play favorites we should do it right.

Posted by Sheila at Coppertoppe Inn on 10/21

Sounds like you live in Southern California! I miss it!

Posted by Albert Reingewirtz on 10/21


Posted by Richard Stickel on 10/21

You have the birds I really love, Scrub Jays! They used fly in my living room! I didn’t know they lived in the east.

Posted by Albert Reingewirtz on 10/21

In Florida, we have the delightful Florida Scrub Jay
if you are in an area where they are, they will land on your hand to eat nuts.  Feeding birds is a problem, we feed birds in the winter, in the summer most migrate to the North.  Squirrels and Tree Rats have became a major problem, almost impossible to keep them off your feeders, and if they get in your attic it’s not fun.

But if you are brave and feed them a Painted Bunting may visit, and you will see the most beautiful wild bird In America.

Posted by Bill on 10/21

Hi there I’m a bird watcher from long island and I feed the birds during the fall, winter and in the early spring. I have a bunch of different bird feeders. I also have a bird bath and I also have a pond in my backyard and sometimes the birds will use my my pond as a bird bath. I have a plat form feeder a ground feeder and a couple of suit feeders. I also have a few hanging feeders, I also have a nut feeder. The ground feeders and the platform feeders have mixed seed in them. One of the hanging feeders has mixed millet, another one has thistle seed. The other hanging feeders have mixed Sun Flower seed and the other one has Saflower seed. I forgot to mention I also have a hummingbird feeder and a couple of oriole feeders with sugar water. I also have oriole feeders that have fruit and jelly.

Posted by Dave Masone on 10/21

In California the Oriol feeder had Oriols coming to it and House finches and of course hummingbirds. Here in Pennsylvania only the hummingbirds come to it. I’ve seen the local Orioles once here in 4 years.

Posted by Albert Reingewirtz on 10/21

Our yard is certified by NWF as a Backyard Habitat and all wildlife is welcome (except roof rats).  In 30 years at this address I have planted native shrubs, etc., and pines, sweet gums, Eastern red cedars and tulip poplars were already here.  Brown-headed Nuthatches are only found where there are pines, and they are such friendly, confiding little birds.  I feed year around—suet cakes, sunflower hearts or chips, and nyger seed.  The importance of water is often overlooked.  During our drought I keep five bird baths cleaned and filled and they are all well used.  In the past I have also fed cracked corn which the Red-bellied Woodpeckers love.  Squirrels are a major nuisance, but hawks are welcome.  They have to eat, too.  I agree that the purpose of bird feeding is to enjoy watching them.

Posted by Theda Davis (Georgia) on 10/21

I am in Southern CA. and specifically, in the Ojai Valley (for you not familiar with strange CA names it is pronounced: OH HI)  Beautiful climate, lots of “critters” and here our birds and squirrels (the ground squirrels) share food and eat together. 

This past year we have seen the possums and raccoons disappear .. wonder if the coyotes have something to do with that.  And we do have an occasional black bear wander down ... THAT is scary.

Posted by Eileen Walker on 10/21

“Unfortunately, due to the black bears in my area, we cannot feed birds year-round.”

I would call that fortunate, Laurie D., very fortunate.

Posted by juan pelotas on 10/21

I live in Oregon near National Forest.  We love to feed the parade of birds and squirrels, mostly native.  We have a box with a heavy lid that only the squirrels lift which frustrates the jays but there is plenty food for them too. We feed them near the edge of the woods where there is also a creek.  It’s safer for them because they can easily go in the forest if hawk swoops by and they always have fresh water.
  We do have a visiting bear so we put out only enough food for the day and bring the cage of suet in every evening. Haven’t seem Mr. bear in awhile so I think he scratched us of his food buffet trail.

Posted by Linda Abell on 10/21

I live in central Texas, just north of Austin.  I feed the birds all year long.  Guaranteed, I don’t like to see any of my birds being devoured by any other critter, but Mother Nature is Mother Nature.  The larger ones feed on the smaller ones, whether we like it or not. My son and I have sat on the deck and been truly amazed by the Hawk that came in, hell bent for leather, chasing the other birds. It was AWESOME!  We watched him/her do a complete 360 degree loop trying to catch them.  There are also some rather large bushes in or on the fence line of my yard that they can hide in. However, Hawks are just as much a bird as the little song birds and they have to eat too.

Posted by Dee Dee Stalnaker on 10/21

I’ve enjoyed reading all those postings above htis.  I too have been a long-time birdwatcher, bird feeder, hunter, and a middle school science teacher.  My classroom often resembled a zoo. I knew the game warden, 2 nationally known wildlife photographers and lots of members of the Cincinnati Bird Club and Nature Center.  I learned decades ago that if I talked baby talk softly to little animals (injured or healthy) they would let me gently touch them and even pick them up.  I really believe they can read minds (at least simple ones like mine).  I’ve picked up dozens of non-poisonous snakes without being bitten, chipmunks, white footed mice, and other things.  Also raccoons, which leads me to why I’m writing. 
  Most people see them as pests, dangerous, distructive, etc.  I see them as my slightly smelly little friends which I have been feeding on my patio here in town for over 20 years.  I started out feeding old stale bread—the real cheap close-outs from groceries.  I got about 1/3 of them to eat out of my hand.  I now feed them the cheapest dog food I can find in town.  They think it’s high class stuff.  I currently have 20-25 here every night. 
  They aren’t dangerous to me especially, and to my family who feed them if I’m away or sick.  My grandchildren used to visit us and beg me to let them sit on my lap at feeding time. In about 25 years I’ve never had an unfriendly incident with them.  They do scrap among themselves, but not with us.  The young ones used to climb up in my lap to get fed.
  Last year I had 2 young downy woodpeckers land on my wrists while I was filling the suet feeders.
  This has gone longer than I meant for it to go.  Be patient with the little critters—we’re supposed to be smarter than them in most things.  They haven’t learned our methods and manners. Jack

Posted by Jack Kemp on 10/21

I solved the squirrel/bear problem by setting a 12’ pole in concrete far enough away from adjacent trees so that squirrels can’t make the jump.  I have a feeder on top and a cross member a little below from which I hang feeders on each end.  The pole has sheet metal around it from 3’ to 7’ above the ground to keep the squirrels and bears from climbing the pole.  It must be set in concrete or the bears will push the pole over to get at the feeders.

Posted by Nick on 10/21

I have mostly wren or sparrow looking little birds.  I feed them a wild bird seed mixture consisting mostly of thistle looking seeds along with sunflower seeds.  I notice they throw it all over the place.  I don’t know if they’re sharing with the birds who can’t get on the feeder or what, but they sure make a mess.  I noticed I had very few finches this year when I normally have a lot.  I don’t know what happened this year.  Also I feed year round.  My kitties enjoy watching them out the window.

Posted by Linda on 10/21

I so loved feeding the birds until, I too, experienced an overwhelming rat problem. I live in Southern California in a rural area. The rats were so bold that they would climb down a thin long hook from the room and get into the one of the tube feeders. The larger ones simply chewed on the plastic to get the seed!!

Posted by Julie Woods on 10/21

This is slightly off topic, but aside from the standard generic bird food mix that I leave out for whatever birds find and eat it, which is always many different kinds, I live in a pecan orchard and pick up pecans not only to share with friends but to dispense back to the squirrels who populate my home. I also put vegetable scraps out for the rabbits (and I’m sure skunks and opossums - everybody needs to eat).

Posted by Ezi on 10/22

So you feed “everybody. Nice! How many rats come to your organized feast? If you see rats joining in the festivities do you claim success?

Posted by Albert Reingewirtz on 10/22

I’m interested in the comment about rats. We live in a suburban subdivision that has been invested with rats. It is a neighborhood-wide problem, but our HOA is reluctant to initiate any kind of neighborhood campaign. They think it will give our subdivision a bad name. Has anyone here been involved in a community-wide effort to reduce the rat population?

Posted by Jane in Northern VA on 10/22

P.S. We are a wildlife-friendly neighborhood, and don’t want folks to stop feeding birds indefinitely!

Posted by Jane in Northern VA on 10/22

I enjoyed Jack’s posting especially.  In regards to rats, wood and cotton rats don’t invade houses as far as I know.  We had roof rats and spent a lot of money to Animal B Gone and have not had a problem for several years.  The company expert told us that rats will go only a limited distance for food.  Perhaps Jane could consult a pest control company for a neighborhood solution.

Posted by Theda Davis (Georgia) on 10/22

I’ve read and enjoyed all the comments for the last couple of days.  We all differ in our views and approach to bird feeding/attracting.  I’ve done a fair amount of reading on the habitat topic and am a Master Naturalist.  First as to feeding vs. attracting, both are true, but there is some evidence that our feeding efforts can make a difference, since some birds will get up to 25% of their daily nutrition from bird feeders.  Second, some wildlife (racoons, coyotes, rats), in fact haven’t been displaced or harmed by human populations, but have increased their numbers without our wishing this.  You might say we disrupted the ecology in ways that favored them.  Thus, unless you’re just squeamish, killing vs relocating is perfectly acceptable.  Death isn’t an ugly thing as many of us seem to FEEL, but a natural thing with, in some cases, consequences that are positive for the overall ecology as well as negative for the individual creature. As to hawks, bears, in many areas these are protected species and so long as they aren’t a direct danger to us, we just need to live and let live.

Posted by Karen on 10/22

Spread the word that Ortho makes a fantastic rat trap. A little peanut butter and one click. It’s set up. Then you do not have to touch the dead rat at all. Open the garbage can click again and the rat falls in the garbage can. The story about improving a mouse trap is old. In fact the improvement is way ahead of what I expected. Never buy another wooden one it’s garbage.
I personally drop the carcass in the backyard hoping that Crows will visit me again. One time one did and picked up the rat carcass.

Posted by Albert Reingewirtz on 10/22

We love our birds, but were forever trying to outsmart squirrels and racoons!  They (and deer) can clean out your bird feeders very quickly.  Regarding spraying the racoons, we did the same with squirrels.  Some were returning, so we took them farther off.  Only a light spray on their rump that did not penetrate to the skin.  If we humanely trap racoons, the county will euthanize them, and not relocate them because of rabies, which is prevalent in our Georgia county.  To solve the problem, my husband made baffles for all our bird feeders by using a round plastic flower planter, hole drilled in the botton and cut up the side, turned upside down and placed on the pole immediately below the feeders.  They are secured with small “c” clamps from the underside.  For one, he had to cut a piece of sheetmetal and afix it in the planter to stop the squirrels from chewing the plastic.  His homemade baffles work really well against squirrels and racoons!  We still have squirrels, but they reach a deadend with they climb the poles, and slide back down.  They just clean up from the ground what the birds drop, which is fine.  For the deer, we buy a hot pepper oil that we mix into the seed.  The birds are not affected, the squirrels ignore it, but the deer sniff it and leave.

Posted by Elizabeth on 10/22

I have never had a problem with either rats or raccoons. First off I put chiles with the bird seed to keep the squirrels and rats away. They can smell it but the birds cannot. If you want to keep raccoons out then just put some naptha moth balls around the area you do not want them as they do not like the smell and will avoid the area. In Canada it is illegal to relocate any wildlife without a special permit from Environment Canada in order to prevent any problems to the creatures. Even pest control must catch animals live and cannot re locate them more than a distance of approximately 2 miles radius. Rats and mice etc may be caught using rat traps but not animals. Oh and raccoons are animals and not rodents as so many think.

Posted by J.C. from Canada 10/22 on 10/22

The birds we had here for some time which were a combination of beauty, fun to watch and annoyance were our barn owls.  We had a row of poplar trees and two had big hollows in the trunks.  I could go out at night and watch them come in and out and visit each other ... I have wonderful photos of them in flight between the trees.  The annoyance ... well, barn owls don’t have a nice, soft “hoot” ... they SCREECH !!  But I miss them.  They left after a couple of years and then one of the trees actually fell so we had to remove them (one was FULL of bees & honey and we had to have a beekeeper come out and rescue us)

Posted by Eileen Walker on 10/22

I also feed birds.  The problem that I have is starlings.  Once they find the feeders, they come by the hundreds and don’t leave until the seed is gone.  I have found that if I cover my suet feeders and hang them upside down they leave them alone.  Of course cardinals won’t feed from them either seems they don’t like hanging upside down either.  I bought a pellet gun and on occasion sit on the back porch and shoot the starlings.  It keeps them away for a while but is not a permanent solution.  I love the birds but am frustated by the starlings and looking for a way to keep them away.

Posted by Bob on 10/22

First, a hint:  Fasten a frisbee, or medium size barrel lid to the bottom of the feeder,(The round plastic ones)  This will catch the thrown out seeds, causing less waste, and the ground feeders will discover the seeds on the lid.  I also feed the neighborhood feral cats.  They keep the rats down, and I never see dead birds around my house. Cats will bring dead animals they catch to show.  I have seen raccoons, and they like to eat the cat food I put out, which is fine.  I have seen a red tailed hawk around my yard, and that is OK too.  My feeders are hanging off the rafters of my house, and while I’m six feet plus, I need a rock to reach the feeders.  No trouble with squirrels, altho I do see them in the neighbor-

Posted by Swede on 10/22

My system of feeders is the same but better. I have a small calender inside a bigger calender. Both are made of fine mesh. I bought them in a Vietnamese market. The wall of the bigger one are much higher than the smaller one where I put the seeds. The rain passes through the mesh but not the seeds. Still some seeds fly to the ground where they are eaten by “the chickens” the Cardinals who fear coming to the feeders that are attached with nylon string to the gutter.  Squirrels in PA apparently are all Einstein’s. Every effort I made they overcame. It is like a chess game.  They even climb to the roof then hold the string attached to the gutter with their front paws and slide head first down to the feeders. The way out is no problem for them they jump to the ground or to the bush below. The neighborhood cats can’t be around all the time. I have seen rats climb the counter weight string to eat. I put Vaseline on it. It is very funny to see a rat making un-rat effort finally almost reaching the feeder and then sliding down on the Vaseline. Very amusing to watch. Rats are smart. After a while they give up and never come back to the counterweight string. They must tell each other in Rat conversations or lecture to the young.

Posted by Albert Reingewirtz on 10/22

I guess our gentler wild ones have tamed each other.  The birds and the squirrels eat together out of the same dish ... I have taken pictures of them .. The pigeons come in big flocks and the smaller birds just hop or fly around and they take turns.  We just leave the food and they let us know if they feel neglected when it runs low.  Mutual feelings here.  The only real hazard, is, of course .. the coyotes.  Live and let live whenever possible.  We had some adorable, tiny field mice sneak in the house several months ago.  I may be a bit odd ... but I think they are cute.  I got a couple of humane traps.  Caught them and took them out back where they ran loose to play.

Posted by Eileen Walker on 10/22

Several years ago we invested in the big green songbird feeder that shuts itself when something large tries to feed from it. We feed exclusively black oiled sunflower seed in that. We also have the twin sock thistle feeder, suet, and a seed block. We get White-breasted Nuthatches, Downey Woodpeckers, Titmouse, Chickadees, finches, and sparrows that come to our feeders. Other large birds feed from the ground. We keep a water source close by. I grew some giant sunflowers this summer and now that they have gone to seed, I cut some and lay them under the feeders and the birds are enjoying getting the seed from them.

Posted by Marcie on 10/23

another note about hummingbirds. We do not put out feeders because of bees, flies and wasps, instead we grow natural nectar with different plants. The hummers enjoy them when in migration and the Ruby-throat nests here and enjoys them all spring and summer. The plants stop nectaring when the hummers start their fall migration and are nectaring when the hummers return in the spring. Can’t beat the natural thing and no mess and adds so much beauty. Also a lot of the plants the hummers feed from are also the same ones butterflies feed from. We plan to add even more plants to our yard next year.

Posted by Marcie on 10/23

Plymouth, MA…we love feeding all the local birds. We have 2 drop feeders 5lbs each, 3 Thistle feeders, 2 Raw suite baskets and 2 birdbaths with heaters for the winter..I use a combination of seed infused with hulled sunflowers. We have an assortment of wild life that enjoy all the turkeys, chipys, squirrels(one 3 legged) and dozens of different birds..

Posted by Kevinette on 10/24

I have noticed several comments about racoons.  We have some problems with them but our latest issue is a ‘possum.  Ohio will not allow us to relocate so we must do what we can to secure our garbage.  Fortunately, I don’t think the ‘possum eats birdseed.  Besides starlings, which we get by the flock, we have squirrels.  We have a small metal garbage can with a locking lid on our front porch lined with a trash bag that holds our seed.  The squirrels have apparently figured out that there is seed in there but they, nor the racoons can get it open.  The squirrels eat the suet we have out for the woodpeckers and the seed for the birds when they can get it.  My son tried to shoot the squirrels with his marshmellow gun (you just put in a miniature marshmellow and blow) to scare them away.  This worked great until the squirrels figured out that the marshmellows were edible!

Posted by Cynthia on 10/24

Everybody hates the squirrels. Me? I love them! I have tried to outsmart them for the past 3 years plus. So far, they overcame everything I have thrown at them. It is like a game of chess with a master as an opponent. I am in total admiration of those beautiful, smart animals. We are north enough in Philadelphia to have some of them with a shiny black coat too. At this time I gave up because there is only one squirrel left as far as I know. No more rats or Chipmunks either that I really love seeing running around with their tail raised. I think someone in the neighborhood or the city poisoned the whole of them in one terrible scoop. It is very sad.

Posted by Albert Reingewirtz on 10/24

I have enjoyed reading all your comments…I am a native Floridian that has recently relocated to Tennessee and have been delighted to have so many birds to feed - something new for me.  Due to a very limited income I use the inexpensive store brands along with suet and a thistle sock - and I’m constantly amazed at how the birds share this so well.  I have two main inexpensive feeders right outside my sunroom and with ground birds sharing the seeds that overflow underneath with two squirrels that appear every day - they all get along beautifully.  The squirrels have never even attempted to get into any of my feeders. I have never seen a single rat.  I did find a raccoon on my porch one time and to my horror found him eating a bird (I didn’t realize they did that) I ran him off and have not seen him since.  Hummingbirds were a delight (I’ve never seen them before) and they loved three inexpensive feeders I put out for them - they left on their own about 2 weeks ago and I took down the feeders.  I have seen skunks (that didn’t stay thank goodness) a large groundhog, several deers, large turkeys, a fox and even a black bear, and none have come anywhere near my feeders.  Just loving this abundant wildlife here!

Posted by Bonnie on 10/24

Since my efforts to feed the birds have offended my landlord (he said ‘they’ve survived for millenia without being fed by humans’) and admittedly they do scatter the seeds to the porch below. I’ve been putting out unshelled raw peanuts. Occasionally a titmouse will fly in and snatch one, but the blue jays… I’ve seen 5 sitting on the railing at once, cackling, whining and screeching at the peanuts. Then they jump onto the table and try to force at least 2 peanuts at a time into their beaks. There is a pair of blue jays that come together and one waits politely for the other to get his peanut before they fly away together. I love my birds.

There’s no squirrel or raccoon problems, but one night a skunk came through to collect the scattered seeds. Didn’t see him, but his fragrance in the yard was unmistakeable.

Posted by joan on 10/26

Jays do love peanuts.  Fun watching them take one and set it on a rail to peck open.  Sometimes they try to do it on the ground and as they peck they bury the peanut ... very frustrating.

They also love the walnuts (in shell)that fall from wild growing trees along the trail.  I have watched them carry them off ... amazing how they hold them in their beaks ... and find the shell halfs later on the ground.  Thats how I can tell the walnuts are ripening.

Posted by Eileen Walker on 10/26

Jay’s do not burry their peanuts by mistake. When I lived in Carlsbad California Jays came into my living room to get raw peanuts in the shell. I had to switch to roasted when a neighbor observe: “I am amazed! I have no idea why is this happening in my backyard. Peanuts plants are suddenly growing everywhere.” Jay’s like all the Corvid’s and many other birds and animals cache food. They forget where they cache the food and trees, plants are spread this way.

Posted by Albert Reingewirtz on 10/26

Oh, I was not mistaking burying peanuts for opening in a bad spot ... I have seen them hide their goodies but I have also seen them try to peck one open and have it sink and if they could get it out they moved it to someplace solid or came back to me and asked for another one.

One must have lost a walnut that way last fall.  A few months ago I pulled a “weed” up from the ground next to the hay shed and found the “weed” was growing from a walnut shell and had nice roots.  It is now in a bucket and is almost a tree ready for planting.

Posted by Eileen Walker on 10/26

Sadly the price of sunflower seeds has put an end to my feeding. I was told by one seller that the farmers were holding reserves in the silos to inflate the price due to the demand from fuel makers. But he told me to watch since seed can only be held for two years. Last year i noticed a price drop, when they released the old to make room for the new.

Posted by Douglas McClung on 10/27

Great! thanks for the share!

Posted by elliptical review on 11/5

One seller of pet food laughed because a buyer complained the bags of bird seed had tiny bugs in them.  Don’t they know .. birds LOVE the bugs.

Posted by Eileen Walker on 11/5

What’s The Best Birdseed To Use For Fall Feeding?
Posted on Thursday, October 20, 2011 by eNature

Posted by barbara on 11/24

Really got a kick out of reading about the sprouting peanut plants.  We get plenty of those ... but my favorite was a “weed” I found sprouting near my horse feed shed.  I pulled it out and found the “weed” was a baby walnut tree, nut still attached with roots out one end and a tiny, healthy green sprout growing above.  Another gift from my pet jays.  It is now a 2 foot tall tree in a tub, leaves just yellowing and dropping for the winter.

Posted by Eileen Walker on 11/29

I just got an interesting book “Feed the birds” by Helen Witty & DIck Witty

Posted by Albert Reingewirtz on 11/30

Mrs. Eileen Walker you may be sick of peanuts plants but you may be sicker when you find out that you are in trouble. As far as I know you need a special permit to own a US wild bird. If you don’t believe me, email Cornell ornithology department and ask them like I did when I adopted a baby crow. I released him to his parents and sibling who watched my house while he was in. By the way they continued to harass me for a few months after I released this baby crow.

Posted by Albert Reingewirtz on 11/30

Albert R:  Try our flower pot turned upside down method to thwart squirrels.  Regarding squirrels, as well as chipmunks, if you have a vehicle that sits for a while, they are liable to chew the wiring.  That happened to our truck, and we had to have some of the wiring replaced.

Posted by Elizabeth on 11/30

Oh dear, Albert ... I do NOT OWN any wild birds ... you took me too literally.  When I call the jays my “pet jays” I should say I am THEIR pet and THEY own ME.  They follow me all over the property begging ... grab nuts from my hand and fly off.  I have had an insistant scrub jay land on my head when I did not respond quickly enough and then, when offered, he grabbed his expected treat from my hand and flew off into the trees.  No, Albert, I don’t keep them.

Posted by Eileen Walker on 11/30

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Posted by plordervid on 12/18
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