I have to admit I don’t know much about birds, bird watching, or bird feeding. You might ask, “How can you write about so many subjects that you profess to know very little about?” It’s easy; you just hit these little letters on the keyboard.
The reason I talk about things that sometimes seem to be a mystery to me, is because if I know enough to find enjoyment in them, that’s enough for me. And, basically, us GEEZERS don’t have forever to start enjoying something new while we analyze it to death.
Also, I just don’t have the time to both write and do a lot of research. Well, you might say, “That isn’t a good enough excuse.” To which I would say, “If you want to write your own blog, do it and do all the research you want.” In the meantime, “My blog, my rules.” Besides, you yourself have a whole world of information available to you through the internet (don’t have access to the internet, then how do you read this blog?)
I do know how to tell most of the different birds apart and if you don’t, all you have to do is get one of the great guidebooks about birds available in every bookstore or look up the information on the internet. In fact, not knowing what bird is what or their natural history is a great reason to start feeding them. It’s great fun to figure out what birds are coming to your feeders. It’s really bird watching without having to walk all over hell to find them.
You don’t need much to start feeding birds. Really all you need is something to feed them and it’s a good idea to get a feeder (or feeders). A feeder makes it easier for birds to feed, keeps things tidy, and is more sanitary. Since different birds eat different things, your choice of food will determine what birds come into your yard. Different seed type may also require different feeders.
Currently, the only feed I have out is black oil sunflower seeds (these are highly recommended and meet the diet needs for many birds). This attracts mainly sparrows and finches. Now a lot of people look down on the Plain Jane, shades of mousey brown sparrow, (some birders call them “Little brown jobs” because there are so many birds with similar coloration), but I kind of like them. Besides, I don’t think there are many other bird species around where I am in the middle of town. I think we have killed most of them off—so much for being good stewards of the earth—with too much damn concrete and asphalt. If you are new at this and in a good area for a wide variety of birds, it is great fun to keep a list throughout the year and list all the different species you see at your feeders.
I also get a lot of squirrels coming in to dine. A lot of people don’t want squirrels and you can even get feeders designed to ruin their day. I like them though—what’s wrong with squirrels? Sam the dog also likes them—only not in the same way.
But anyway, you can keep it simple or get as complex as you want. I simply have two feeders that I put seeds into that hang on a pole from hooks. It helps me see the birds and keeps them a little safer from predators (cats) in the area.
You also should put out a source for water. Even with people watering their lawns and shrubs, standing water is the best source of refreshment for the birds. With it being so hot (in Spokane we have broken all kinds of records this year (I know Republicans, it’s all in my mind) the birds need a persistent source of water.
Water should be changed daily and feeders need to be sanitized regularly. This reduces the chances of disease or parasites being passed from one bird to another.
If you don’t have a yard, there are window feeders available that might work in an apartment window. I have never tried these, but they look intriguing.
I use about three or four 50-pound sacks of seeds each year. That means I spend about $130 annually. To save money get big sacks of seeds at your feed and grain stores (at least that what us GEEZERS call them) instead of the small bags at the clothing, food, medicine, and everything in the world stores.
I don’t do much to save the planet. I look at this as my small contribution to the wildlife that I have always enjoyed. If 30 or 40 sparrows and a few squirrels are better off, then so be it.