What’s in Our Feeders?

Visitors often ask us what we feed the birds. We currently have several feeding locations: the ground (including up on some rocks), crabapple trees, and elevated seed and suet feeders. We also hang oriole and hummingbird feeders in summer.

On the ground, we sprinkle kernel corn and mixed seeds, to attract turkeys, sparrows, juncos, blackbirds, and others. Not only do we sprinkle this by the viewing area, but in the summer Bob scatters corn by the pond for resident and visiting waterfowl (although the turkeys appreciate it too).

The crabapple tree produces small, cheery-sized apples, which attracts grouse and many of the smaller birds who also visit our feeders. This tree is visible in the photo below, in the background behind the feeders. There are other crabapples and feral apples on the property (that’s another post, someday).

The hummingbird feeders are hung just outside the viewing window and another outside the front door, but those are removed for the winter. We usually see hummingbirds during the first week of May, and they typically leave the first week in September. We do keep the feeders up through most of September, to support those migrating from points north.

Our upper feeders hold (generally) black oil sunflower seed, sunflower chips, mixed seeds, thistle, and suet. These attract a wide variety of birds, from doves to jays, grosbeaks to finches, woodpeckers, nuthatches, and many more. We hang a jelly feeder for orioles in the summer also. Check out our birds at the feeder posts for records of what we’ve seen when (a click on those post titles will take you to the posts and any pictures as well).

Our webcam shows a few of our upper feeders; this image is from a sunny morning in November 2010.

Four Feeders (visible with web cam), food types labelled
Four Feeders (visible with web cam), food types labeled. The crabapple tree is the red-dotted one in the background behind the mixed seed feeder.

Our elevated feeders–the ones in the photo–are mounted on a 4″-diameter steel pole, 8 feet above the ground. The pole is set in concrete, and has a baffle beneath. We grease the pole every now and then. Most feeders are hung above the cross-bar part of the pole, although occasionally we will hang a feeder below.

Why all the elevated infrastructure? In a word, bears.

It is recommended that people in bear country not feed birds when bears are awake, especially early in the year when they are just awakening and are hungry after hibernation. For us in Vermont, this is roughly April 1 through November 1. However, as a Bird Museum, we also want to attract birds so visitors can enjoy them as we do, not to mention learning about and from them. Thus: tall, greased poles than black bears can’t knock over. (They have tried…)