Proper bird feeders with good feed attract many species all year
HUGHESVILLE – There is still some good time left in the season to attract birds to your backyard garden, especially the hummingbirds according to expert, Wes Egli who spoke to some enthusiasts at the Hughesville Public Library on August 13.
Just about everyone loves watching these little creatures who habitat and migrate through north central Pennsylvania. Some species of hummingbirds will stay until the end of December. “August starts the hummingbird migration,” Egli said. The males arrive at their seasonal home about three weeks before the females. Spring migration starts around March or April and we start to see them here around the third and fourth week of April. They are searching for nectar to fatten them up, and they will always stay close to flowers.
The ruby throated and the Rufous hummingbirds are the more common here coming from Canada then heading south to Central America. Keep the feeders up into November to attract the western species of the hummingbirds. “They have been showing up every winter since the mid 80’s,” Egli said.
There are some rare winter species that have been spotted and banded in Lock Haven. Egli reported, “We have seen birds that have been banded in previous years.” Because of their small size, they are captured by putting a hummingbird feeder inside a bird cage operated by a remote to do the banding.
He also suggested wrapping the feeders during freezing weather. “They are going to be here, so we may as well feed them. There is nothing else for them to feed on,'” he added.
As for feeders, he recommends to keep them clean and change the solution every other day, especially in hot, humid weather. He also advises making a home made solution of one part sugar and four parts water, to eliminate the necessity of purchasing the solution mixes.
Egli brought a variety of bird feeders to show, and explained their different uses to attract various types of colorful birds, not just the hummingbirds.
“Nature’s creatures are fantastic to watch.” Scatter the seeds, use different heights and different feeders to attract a variety of birds.
Location of the feeders is also very important, described Egli as he pointed out the ‘hopper’ style bird feeder. “To use this, scatter seeds on the ground to attract birds to the feeding station,” he said. “These are squirrel-proof feeders,” and he suggested to keep them four to five feet from the ground.
Squirrels and chipmunks always present a problem and so a “combination tube feeder” is good for the finches because it has an adaptable port for mixed seeds.
Water is also important to attract birds in your backyard because they like moving water. “Put a sprinkler in your bird bath,” suggested Egli. “This helps maintain their feathers,” commented Egli who enjoys watching them bathe from his Picture Rocks backyard.
“There are multiple styles of feeders,” he added. Morning doves like to feed on the ground, and larger birds may dominate the feeder.
Seeds are important and Egli highly recommends a good mix of seeds from a reputable grain dealer, rather than a franchise or department store. Also be sure to read the labels and the ingredients as some bags of seed are filled with lots of wasted filler.
“Black oil sunflower seed attracts the most species.” Bluejays love corn and can be a ‘bully’ bird. Song sparrows love millet. Cardinals are somewhat shy when coming to the feeders, possibly the last to feed during the night. House finches are commonly seen on most feeders, and the gold finches feed in winter. “Winter birds usually flock together to find food.”
Of late, Egli said he has been observing a trumpeter swan, the largest of the North American waterfowl, that recently appeared in Muncy at the boat launch since the beginning of August. He has seen it on four occasions at the mouth of Muncy Creek. “This is the first the county has records for this particular bird,” Egli announced. It was almost extinct in the early part of the 20th century.
On Thursday, September 11, Egli will be speaking at the Muncy Library where he will present a slideshow and discussion on birds and feeding stations beyond the backyard.