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Bird Feeding Basics, Part 1
October 29, 2018

The time off was well needed, from Yolanda, chores, and this letter.

Thank you for understanding.

As we grow older, Yolanda becomes more challenging for us.

Anyone who deals with a special needs person totally understands the wear physically, but more so emotionally, and mentally.

We spent some time in Northern Michigan, to look for some fall colors and do other things.

I must say, Karen and I had a wonderful time together.

(Looking across west arm of Grand Traverse Bay.)

The fall colors weren't what we had hoped for, this is always a challenge when you plan ahead.

Still, there were some to admire.

We especially enjoyed the tour of a restored heritage barn, and surroundings.

This was in Traverse City, at the Commons.

What was once a state mental hospital.

Other buildings are being restored for retail, apartments, and condos.

If you ever get to TC, MI. do visit, the architecture alone is worth it.

I didn't have my camera with me on this one, it stayed in the car for some reason.

All the times we have visited Point Betsie, Lighthouse (Betsie Bay just north of Frankfort), this is the first time it was open for tours.

Again, a home run.

The light tower is only 32 steps, but sits on higher ground.

This allows for the still working light to be visible from 14 miles out on Lake Michigan.

The Big Lake was a bit angry that day, still the sun drenched skies and the blue water made for some great photos.

Sleeping Bear Dunes can be seen to the North.

(Fall color with a vineyard in the forefront, Parts of northern Michigan are filled with award winning wineries.)

It's always good to get back home, nothing sleeps better than your own bed.

Not to mention the fur kids and picking up Yolanda.

A couple of hard, killing frosts knocked the life out of all the annuals and many perennials.

This past week I have been busy (real busy), Cutting back and cleaning up.

Most of the yard art is cleaned off and stored for the winter.

I'm a week or two late on this subject, but I will attempt to touch on bird feeding basics for you.

Especially those who may be new to feeding birds.

Bird Feeding Basics Part 1.


(An angry Lake.)

As winter approaches, birds have been busy too.

Migration continues.

This past week, Dark-eyed juncos have arrived in full force.

This is an irruption year for Red-Breasted Nuthatches.

At least around here.

Every three years or so the these birds migrate south form Canada and northern states to find food.

Two plus weeks ago, they arrived.

Several of them.

Such a joy to see these friendly, busy birds again.

I digress.

Migrating birds as well as your year round residents are busy locating and setting up seasonal feeding grounds.

Yes, birds locate the best sources of food to help sustain them.

This holds true everywhere, especially in the northern regions that experience snow and deep cold temperatures.

(A view of the dunes from the light tower.)

If you feed birds only during the winter and don't have your feeders out, do it now.

Now, here is where a few basics come into play.

Feeder Location, and ground feeding.

Year round, birds need to feel safe.

Some form of security from predators.

Complete safety is impossible, yet some is attainable.

When possible, place your feeders near shrubs, trees, ad partially near buildings.

The magic number seems to be 10-12 feet (3m).

In the open enough for birds to freely feed, and for you to watch, yet close enough to fly into trees and shrubs in attempts to avoid cats, and birds of prey.

Both animals are ambush predators, if feeders are placed too close to trees, etc. Cats can still pounce, and hawks can still swoop unimpeded.

Six to 10 feet from buildings, and birds can survive a crash, as they haven't picked up neck break speed.

(West Bay, trees changing, and another vineyard.)

When possible, locate feeders closer to your house, so you aren't wading great distances through knee deep snow, or other nasty weather conditions.

Make every attempt to make this easy for you.

Place a platform feeder on your deck, or hand a feeder from a nearby tree branch.

Fighting the elements on a regular basis will discourage you from feeding and watering your wildlife.

Ultimately, your birds will indeed find a regular source of food, and may not return for several days or weeks.

(I do like the colors of Lake Michigan this time of year, She is a beautiful lake.)

There is no real need to go hog wild on all sorts of fancy feeders.

Birds don't care what a feeder looks like.

Manufacturers are only after your dollars.

If you can afford a higher quality feeder, purchase it.

Less expensive feeders, made of cheap plastic, or thin wood stapled together will fall apart within a couple of years.

Quality made tube feeders like Aspects, Droll Yankees, are American Made and come with guarantees.

Manufacturers like Woodlink, still make their wooden feeders in America, using Cedar wood and screws to hold them together.

Feeders that will last for years.

Saving you money in the long run.

Now, if all you can afford right now is the Chinese made plastic Perky Pet, or some off name.

That is fine too.

The important thing is you are feeding your birds.

(Sleeping Bear National Lake Shore from lighthouse tower.)

Don't forget fresh water.

These are a few simple, yet basic bird feeding guidelines.

Location is one.

If you can only have one feeder, I recommend a Hopper style feeder.

Hoppers may be wooden, metal, Fiberglass, or a combination.

Square, rectangle, or round, with hoppers on both sides, or wire mesh, or grooves to service a wide variety of birds.

Hoppers are my feeder of choice for this.

If I could only offer one kind of feed, it would be Black Oil Sunflower Seed, (also known as BOS).

Oilers are rich in oil and protein, they also will attract the greatest variety of local and migrating birds to your yard.

As always, I get carried away.

Next week I will go deeper into bird feed, hopefully answering a few more questions.

Maybe a few feeder options too.

Well, it is time to fly for now.

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

God Bless.

"If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things of nature have a message that you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive".

Eleonora Duse

God's word is full of verses on rejoicing and joy.

Here are two simple ones.

"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice".

Philippians 4:4

"This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it".

Psalm 118:24

"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.

A Blessed week to you .

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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