Outdoors with Jim Collins: Bird feeders
The day that you read this column is the day to place your hummingbird feeders. We have reports over the years of folks in the area observing a male hummingbird around the end of April. On Friday, May 2. Ten minutes later two mature rose-breasted grosbeak males arrived. We observed an immature male rose-breasted grosbeak on April 29
The first hummingbirds are males; like almost all migrating birds returning north for the season. The males of most birds species that we observe in our backyard precede the females by a least a week; often longer.
Notice word feeders in the first paragraph vice feeder. We learned over the years from folks and magazine articles that it pays to have at least two hummingbird feeders. The reason is the dominant male will likely watch just one feeder and drive away juvenile males and even the females early in the breeding season. We put one outside our back porch and one hangs off a hook on the front porch. Not only does this arrangement solve the problem of the dominant male, it actually draws more birds than just one feeder.
We never had any problems with black bears disturbing our bird feeders until May of 2013. A large male disturbed numerous feeders in our little community of 170ish folks. It was the night before the May primary election. The bear knocked over our sunflower seed feeder and actually took the Niger seed tube feeder. We never did find it.
Thinking this was simply and random onetime thing, we left the feeders out at night. The bear returned in June and knocked them over again. That episode resulted in our taking down all the feeders each night and storing them in the garage. Good thing we did because some of our neighbors have already had their feeders trashed by black bears this spring; one family on two occasions.
We stopped using suet feeders two years ago for a variety of reasons and black bears were not the issue. However, it is well known that bears prefer suet cakes and will do almost any physical thing to get them. Another tip; do not leave dog or cat food bags outside. Bears love them too.
It is also good to move your sunflower and Niger seed feeders from time to time to keep the area clean. Birds do waste a lot of seeds. If you want proof, try not putting out any feeders for one or two days per week. You will be amazed at the number of birds on the ground still, the first male hummingbird arrived at one of our feeders at 0750 finding lots of food.
Did you know that the number one hobby in America is bird watching? It is a wonderful and enjoyable pastime and when you get a bird book and start to be able to identify some of the birds, you will be hooked on the hobby. When you can start to identify birds by their songs, things really get interesting.
All you need is a decent pair of binoculars and some time. Step outside and enjoy the wonderful things in nature that God has given to us. And, thank a veteran or currently serving military man or woman for the freedom that you have. This is "The Land of the Free because of the Brave."
Jim Collins is an outdoors columnis for The Sunday Review. He can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail at Outdoors with Jim Collins, HC, 1: 87 Windfall Road, Alba, Pa. 16910.