Question About Wild Birds in the South

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by DaisyFace, Jan 11, 2010.

  1. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    OK, this might be a little dumb...

    When I lived up north, I used to have bird feeders all the time. Now that I've been in the south, I haven't had one.

    But with the temps being so low and everything frozen right now, I thought it might be nice to offer something to the I made peanut-butter pine cones rolled in assorted birdseed. I hung them around the yard over the weekend...

    Well, this morning, they are all still there....completely untouched! Not even the squirrels have taken a nibble.

    I don't get it. Do southern critters not eat peanut butter and birdseed?

    husband says if the birds and squirrels don't eat them, I should take them down before we attract a bear to the yard.

    Am I really at risk of luring a bear instead????


  2. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Unless you are close to the woods, I dont think you are going to lure a bear. We have seen a few hit on the side of the road within 50 or so miles from us but not closer and I live rural.

    The birds should come. I dont see a whole lot of them around right now but there are some native birds that dont go anywhere. They will find you. Give them time.
  3. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    What I found best for attracting birds anywhere in the US where I've lived, is to put up suet blocks. Some with seeds in them. Some with fruit in them, even some with mealworms in them.

    Nearly ALL birds will eat suet in colder weather, and the different flavors attract different birds.

    I have NOT found peanut butter to be a good attractant. The suet works great for birds seeking a quick energy boost--very important in the cold weather.

    Once your birds are coming, you can put out some thistle seed feeders. These attract goldfinches and several other finch species. Sunflower seeds (oil seed, not the stuff we eat) are a great multi purpose bird food, and if you want to attract cardinals, you can mix a bit of safflower seed in their as well.
  4. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Our yard is surrounded by woods....but I don't think the woods are "deep" enough for a bear, if you know what I mean. You can't walk through the woods very far before reaching another road or highway.
  5. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Well that probably explains it, then...the peanut butter is just not the right thing.

    Perhaps I will still get a few squirrels to eat these creations...
  6. Shari

    Shari IsItFridayYet?

    I'd imagine eventually you'll get some birds to chew on them, anyway. It just takes a little time for them to find new food sources like that. But we have had very good luck with suet, too.
  7. Star*

    Star* call 911


    Well.....sit right down and I'll tell you the "ART" of Southern bird feeder attraction rules.

    First of all - not all Southern birds will come to feed on any feeder. No sir. Er' Ma'am. You have to have just the right kind of feeder. Then you have to have just the right kind of seed. Not just any grocery store seed either. No, naw, no, naw, no. Now there's seed mix for song birds, seed mix for your little finches, gncos, seed mix for your nuthatches, and your titmouse, and your Orioles, and your woodpeckers, and your wrens. Then you have to consider your Doves (love to eat what's on the ground - throw regular millet on the ground for them), your Cardinals, Tanagers, your Jays, your fruit lovers.

    Then there are squirrels if you really WANT squirrels to come into your yard - because they are SO destructive here. OMG I want to tell you about the most rude flying tree rats I have ever known! WOW - ate my swing, my bird houses are all welled out, my bird feeders are chewed up, my house, my roof, my trees, my flower bulbs, my bird water dishes, even my plastic squirrels! Dreadful little buggers for feeding them they aren't very gracious.

    A lot of the seeds that you get? Corn.....Corn isn't a favorite of most birds. What they really like after a long flight or cold weather? Black sunflower seeds, mixed with Safflower, millet, some dried fruit, and the Jays LOVE peanuts. Now your finches? OMG they LOVE the thistle seed and Niger seed. It's spendy so either get the feeder that is specifically for that seed or a sock. I get the sock from Walmart and hang them when I can afford to. Also - We MAKE our own suets. We find pine cones and tie fishing strings on them - let them open in the warm of the house (they'll close again in the cold sometimes) and roll them in cheap peanut butter, then pour bacon grease over that and roll in bird seed then hang.....or if you want just buy them - usually $2.00 and get a cage so that the birds have something to hang on while eating. The little nuthatches and titmouses love this. Jncos love that too. The wrens like just the cheap old millet. Cardinals like the black-oil sunflower seeds and will sit and sit for that.

    If you have seed that they are NOT eating? And you have a woods? Two things come to mind. #1 - you have a cat that is watching and you do not see the cat or dog. #2 - you have purchased some old last years seed and the birds can smell mildew in it and won't eat it. THROW it out in a patch in the woods and see if it sprouts in the spring and get some millet that way.

    I used to buy all the #50lb bags of different stuff and mix it myself when I had a little more money. Now I have a cat that thinks the feeders are for HER entertainment and well -----the birds are not that dumb.

    Also they like to make sure that there is a fresh source of water for them to get a drink from. And a safe high place to roost - eat - roost - eat.

    Where you are? I don't think you have to worry about bears too much. You can call the DNR in your area and ask just to be sure of sightings and they'll know. But foxes, bobcats, weasles, martins also eat birds....other birds of prey also eat birds too. That's why I recommend getting a covered /platform bird feeder so they can eat without being bothered and if squirrels bother you - put a slinky on the post - lol. That's worth the money you pay to watch them try to get up to the feeder.

    If you want squirrels? Cob corn. And black sunflower seeds. OMG - and the peanuts. WOW. Just watch your lawn furniture and cushions.
  8. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Thanks, Star!

    There are already a ton of birds in the area, so I just figured a good mix of seeds was bound to satisfy SOMEBODY.....and if I didn't get it right I consoled myself with the thought that the squirrels would polish off anything the bids missed.

    So when I didn't even get a nibble, I was stumped!

    Now it could be that the seed was old--good point! I hadn't thought of that.

    I guess I'll wait and see if anybody finds it over the next few days. if not, i'll assume the seed was bad and toss everything...
  9. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    I am not a fan of squirrels at bird feeders. If you want to attract them, you can get "corn blocks", which are corn held together with gelatin, basically. Cob corn is always good. You can get cob corn feeders that have four spikes on them. You put a cob of corn on each one. The feeders are made so that they spin when the squirrels jump on them. It's kind of fun to watch.
  10. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    LOL! My intention was only to feed the critters that are already here and that are probably having a hard time during the cold snap. The birds are sitting on the tree branches all "puffed up" to keep out the cold...and I've seen one too many dead squirrels the past few days. Whether they died from cold, disease, starvation or a predator I don't know.

    I guess I assumed that whatever I offered would be snapped up right away. I remember up north that whenever corn or seed or suet or whatever was offered it was usually completely gone within a few hours.

    Maybe these critters are extra picky eaters...?
  11. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    I don't think the squirrels are dying of the cold. Ours up here, both the greys and the reds, cope very well with our bitterly cold winters.

    If you are seeing dead ones, I'd suspect some sort of disease they've caught.
  12. Star*

    Star* call 911

    Ahhhhhh see......There is something a miss if you have dead squirrels. I would imagine something that is killing them for a feral or domestic cat. A bobcat or martin, would eat them. A house cat wouldn't necessarily eat them because he's getting fed elsewhere. So my guess is the birds aren't coming down because THEY have a (lol) BIRDS eye view of the "killer" cat.

    Yeah - my money is on a stalker cat. I've had mixed seed out and you're right if it's cold enough like it is now? They'll come and eat anything (popcorn, maccaroni and cheese you name it) but if there is a cat lurking? NOPE. My feeders have been full since June. I have a killer in my bushes - her name is Piper - Queen of the dragon slayers at the Dragon ***** Ranch. (little green anoles)
  13. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Something we've done to feed magpies here - we've melted out dripping and mixed in some bird seed. Magpies eat insects which are high in fat, so putting the mix together gives them a more typical diet.

    It didn't work well for us in an Aussie summer because the fat melted and the seed all fell to the bottom. But in a US winter it should be fine.

  14. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I've a couple bird feeders out and I have both milet (which the finches love) and hulled sunflower seeds (which they all love and is less mess although more expensive).

    I will never forget when difficult child was in preschool he came home so excited because he had made a treat for the birds (he and I are both bird lovers). They had taken a rice cake, but a string through it, covered with the peanut butter and rolled it in bird seed. He and I went out and he found the perfect branch to tie it from.

    Our plan was to watch out during the known feeding times and watch the birds enjoying his treat. Well, a couple hours later I looked out and yelled, "difficult child, come here quick!" We watched a squirrel rip that rice cake off the string and run away with it!

    I'm quite suprised the squirrels haven't made away with your treats yet!

  15. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    If we put out something like that, the white cockatoos would rip it to shreds in seconds!

    A friend gave us a very large seed bell one year, the thing weight 2 Kg, it was huge! We hung it out, anticipating watching the parrots slowly nibble it away over the next few weeks. The cockatoos swooped in and demolished it in an afternoon.

  16. ThreeShadows

    ThreeShadows Quid me anxia?

    Wow! Them southern birds must be some dainty gourmets. You throw peanut butter at Maine birds and they are grateful for the fat., yessah!

    I read an interesting study which followed the succession of berries consumed by birds during the winter and it seems they save those which have the highest concentration of sugars for the end of the cold season because they need the carbohydrates to survive a long period of cold.

    I also was surprised to read descriptions of robins getting totally schnockered on fermented berries. Bacchus rules!
  17. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    Over the years I've seen a lot of birds getting wasted on fermented fruit. Not just birds either. Monkeys and elephants will both seek out fermented fruits and other plant matter on which to feed.

    Apparently they like the buzz.

    I spent some years living in a house that had a lot of wild plums on the property. This fruit ferments within days of getting ripe.

    I can remember my dad going out with the shop vac and hoovering up thousands of wasps that were so trashed they couldn't budge. They ate the fruit until they were so wasted they couldn't move, let alone fly.