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What to Look for in a Bird Feeder
December 12, 2011

Check out the double chin on this squirrel.

I think it is bigger than mine :-)

We have at least six squirrels that show up almost daily, and a couple of them are for sure obese.

So much so, they have a difficult time running.

They can't get at the feeders, but do a good job gleaning.

I must show off my Christmas Hibiscus and Mandevilla.

For six dollar plants this spring, they are still doing well for me.

With the mild and sunny November, I was able to place them in a sunny, yet protected area during the day and that kept them growing.

The buds are about done on the Tropical hibiscus, but the Mandevilla keeps growing, and I've pruned it back a couple of times.

They do add some Christmas color, don't you think?

We awoke Friday to an inch of snow on the ground, that has since melted.

Call me weird, but it is time to have snow.

Not only for 'Christmas Season', but a good snow cover is important to insulate our plants from the bitter cold that will be coming.

I know I sound like a broken record on this.....................

If Nature hasn't provided ample moisture, you need to water, not only evergreens, but this years plantings up until the ground freezes.

Healthy and hydrated plants will make it through the rigors of winter much better than dry and weakened plants.

Especially your evergreens that dry out from the cold and dry air.

After your broad leafed evergreens have been hydrated, feel free to spray on an anti-desiccant like 'Wilt-Pruf'.

Anti-desiccants help your plants to retain moisture.

As winter approaches, more and more birds will look for your assistance to survive winter.

High proteins and fatty foods like........

Black Oil sunflower Seeds, Peanuts, and Suet. often mean life or death.

Make sure your feeders are placed near protection, yet close enough for you to get to, elements and all.

(See Feeder Placement.)

Quality feeders are important too.

Feeders that are durable and easy to clean and fill.

I don't know about you, but I don't want to stand out there spending valuable time cleaning and filling my feeders.

Today's topic is what to look for in a good feeder.

For yourself and as a possible gift.


Important Side Note:

For the past several years, I have allowed myself to write a special Christmas letter (Easter too).

It is a letter on how I feel and believe about Christmas, God our Creator, the gifts he has given us, and of course, the ultimate Gift to all mankind.

Jesus, our Lord and Savior.

After all, without the first Christmas, we have no reason to celebrate.

I understand that I will lose readers because of this, yet I must follow my heart and that is more important.

I also know that God sends new readers when I am faithful.

Please feel free to ignore next week's letter and I will see you in the New Year.

There was a time that I was there myself.

I would purchase the cute plastic feeder that looked like a barn and silo and the snap together feeders that I thought were affordable.

You too?

But, having to buy a new or different feeder every year, I decided it was time to educate myself.

Are you thinking about a new feeder for yourself?

Maybe you have a loved one or a birding friend in mind?

Here are some tips on what to look for in a bird feeder.

Be sure to educate yourself on the different feeders.

I discuss what to look for in a good feeder and I cover most feeders and some features to look for.

If you can swing a few extra dollars, you may only have to purchase one feeder that will last you a life time.

Remember, you do get what you pay for when it comes to feeders.

Look at what benefits you and the birds.

Cute usually isn't functional.

Look for............

Does it fill easy?

How about cleaning?

Will it last for years, or a lifetime, or will the first squirrel that comes along take care of the new feeder?

Will the birds use it?

Is it too cute to really work?

I mean, is it functional for you and the birds.

Easy to fill and clean, or are you out in the cold weather too long trying to fill your cute feeder?

It looks so attractive, but I can't get inside to clean it.

Some quality name brand feeders now offer pop off or screw off bottoms that allow for good cleaning.

Quality will also offer metal parts that are rust proof and critter resistant.

Tops, bottoms, feeding ports and perches should be made of metal.

Quality should give your clear plastic tubes a UV protective coating to slow down or stop the damaging rays from the sun.

Economical feeders can't boast this claim, in the process, they become brittle and crack within a couple of years (if the squirrels don't get them first).

Some of the newer feeders even come with a built in bacteria inhibitor.

I believe in recommending products I know, use, and trust, period.

Like this Woodlink Pro3, and other quality made wooden feeders.

It may cost a few dollars more, but you wont have to buy a new feeder every year or every other year unless you are adding on.

Many quality and name brand feeders will come with guarantees against squirrel damage.

Name brand feeders like 'Droll Yankees', Aspect's, 'Wild Birds Unlimited' (made by Aspects), 'Duncraft' and others offer guarantees against the elements on many of their products.

You will have to do some research, as many of these companies have gone into the economy feeder market as well :-(

Many of the better manufacturers boast American Made products and quality (another reason for the cost).

Also, you will have to look into bird specialty stores, garden centers or purchase them on-line.

Companies like Droll Yankees and Aspects will not sell to Big Box Stores, and I like this.

Hoppers and Platform feeders must also be made of quality material.

Some are made of metal, others are made of recycled milk bottles, etc. , yet wooden feeders still seem to be the standard.

A couple of things to look for in these feeders are:

Screened bottoms are a must.

Drainage and air flow will deter moisture from building up and causing other problems.

You will also want to look for pieces of wood put together by rust resistant screws.

Staples and nails will eventually work lose, and before you know it, your feeder is falling apart.

Wooden feeders should be made of redwood or cedar and 1/2 thick or more.

If you plan on hanging your feeder, look for or make sure it has a chain or some kind of wire that will last.

Cord and leather will rot and again your feeder comes crashing down.

I have two Droll Yankees tube feeders that have been in service since for a good 15 years..

'Woodlink Pro Series' feeders since 1998

A 'Looker' window platform for several years.

My Mandarin Sky Cafe since 2000 (pictured).

The sky Cafe is one of the best squirrel resistant feeders I know of, when properly placed.

Other feeders have been added with time, like an 'Aspects' and a 'Droll Yankees' peanut feeders.

A few different finch feeders,

And you get the idea.

Sure the feeders may look their age with fading paint, aged wood and scratched surfaces, but they have more than paid for themselves many times over.

With the cost of bird food these days, I want to make sure the birds get as much of it as possible, without squirrels getting the bulk and very little spoilage.

How about you?

Tis the season for giving and that is good.

(I don't think it is quite what our Creator meant, but cultures do seem to dictate so much of what we do.)

Please remember to give to your favorite charity or drop off a gift or two for a needy child.

Food pantries always accept donations.

Unfortunately, we seem to forget about the needy the rest of the year.

You may not see the joy or smile, but you will know you made some one's day.

We have been blessed and must remember that.

The Bible tells us that God loves a cheerful giver.

My dear departed mom always taught us kids that we need to give to others, some of the blessings we have received.

A smile wont put food on a table or a coat on some one's back, but it can warm a heart and it makes you feel good as well.

Be sure to share your smiles with strangers, you may confuse them.

Well, It's time to fly for now.

Before I go, here is your positive thought for the week.

God Bless

"Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to give something back by becoming more."

Anthony Robbins

Use your gifts with love and of good cheer.

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give,

not reluctantly or under compulsion,

for God loves a cheerful giver.

2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV)

"Treat the earth well:

It was not given to you by your parents,

It was loaned to you by your children.

We do not inherit the Earth from our

Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children."

Ancient Indian Proverb

Your friend indeed,

Ron Patterson

PS. If you enjoy these letters, please forward them to friends, family and co-workers.

Better yet, have them sign up so they can receive their own letters.

Gardening For Wildlife.

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