Backyard Bird Feeding
1. HUMMINGBIRD FEEDER LESSON
Anna Male Hummingbird
Hummingbird Nectar Recipe - 1 cup Pure Cane Sugar plus 4 cups Boiling Water
Directions: Heat 4 cups almost boiling water to 1 cup of Pure Cane Sugar.
Stir, then place in refrigerator until cool (several hours or overnight).
Fill hummingbird feeder halfway to 2/3rd and hang outside. The remaining nectar can be refrigerated for several weeks.
Choose a feeder for optimum cleanliness and function:
1 – Glass over plastic
2 – One with a wide circular opening to easily insert a brush for thorough cleaning
3 – Simple to take apart, to reach every nook and cranny
4 – A feeder with a stand in front of each feeding port is preferred, so hummingbirds can sit and rest while feeding, as shown below.
Below are a few examples of good hummingbird feeders.
CLEANING INSTRUCTIONS FOR ALL BIRD FEEDERS.
About once a week, soak in hot soapy water which include Dove dishwasher detergent and a dash of white vinegar and/or bleach. Scrub all parts well, especially the inside. Watch for signs of mold – black dots.
**DO NOT use honey, agave syrup, brown sugar, molasses or artificial sweeteners. Use only Pure Cane Sugar. Also, do not use ready-made nectar available in stores, as they contain preservatives and/or red dye, neither of which is good for the hummingbirds. Change and clean all your outdoor feeders often - in hot weather, every 1-2 days; in cooler weather, every 3-5 days. Keep feeder out of direct sunlight and inclement weather as much as possible.
1 – Add a bird feeder baffle to place above or below to protect all types of bird feeders from sun and inclement weather, squirrels and other critters.
The best baffle we've found for value and size is sold at Tractor Supply Co.
2 – ANT MOATS: We recommend that you use an ant moat to hang above each hummingbird feeder. This will keep away ants, who are strongly attracted to that sweet sugar-water combination. You can search for these online. I like these attractive ones shown below which I found on Ebay by googling hummingbird feeder ant moats. Every few days, visit your feeders to make sure the ant moats are filled with adequate water. The single red one below is filled with pesticides. It works, but I prefer to have a garden without any pesticides at all. Both kinds work to keep the ants away.
You're interested in feeding wild birds in your backyard besides hummingbirds. What do you get?
Hummingbird Feeders with shade provided helps keep the nectar free of mold and fermenting. Here are three examples with a shade protection provided.
Small Umbrella Baffle in Tree Under open roof
INEXPENSIVE COMMON BIRD FEEDERS
(use these feeders for black-oil-sunflower-seeds, wild finch seeds and sunflower-hearts and chips)
This type of circular birdfeeder are found any place where wild bird seed is sold. Make sure to get one that is easy to fill and easy to take apart for cleaning.
PLATFORM FEEDERS: There are many types of platform bird feeders. These are ideal, since many birds are too big stand on the feeders shown above.
BIRD BATH - WATER SUPPLY: Always add a bird bath for your feathery friends, preferably with moving water. I use both a large one for drinking and baths and a tabletop with with electricity and moving water. I use both.
Backyard Fountain Tabletop Fountain with moving water
which birds prefer
Feeding Station Gazebo (or use umbrellas)
WHERE TO BUY BIRD SEED AND WHICH SEEDS TO CHOOSE?
In the Inland Empire, the stores we recommend for purchasing good quality feeders and wildbird seed are: Walmart, Lowes, Home Depot, Amazon, some grocery stores - like Stater Bros, and Tractor Supply Co.
For example, the Tractor Supply Co which has an excellent assortment of quality birdseed at good prices, as shown below. Also, birdseed offered by local Walmart stores have excellent pricing and good selection.
But, the best deal is at Stater Brothers Grocery Store, which sells a 20 pound bag of Wild Bird Seed for about $10.00. BEST VALUE. It has a mixture of grass seeds (like milo and millet) and Black Oil Sunflower Seeds.
Click below or copy to your browser to see an excellent video on birdfeeding tips
NYJER or THISTLE SEEDS FOR LOCAL GOLDFINCHES
If you're interested in adding another feeder, try purchasing a feeder specifically designed for Nyjer Seeds, a tiny black seed (also known as Thistle Seed) which will attract the American or Lesser Goldfinches, small bright yellow and black birds who are highly attracted to this seed. You can purchase this seed in large bags or in a 'sock' already filled with this seed. The BEST DEAL for this kind of seed is at Amazon, where you can purchase a 20 pound bag for $33. It's a huge heavy bag that will last you about a month, if these adorable bright yellow birds start visiting your feeder. You can also buy a thistle sock and just hang it up, as shown below.
Nyjer-Thistle Bird Feeder Nyjer-Thistle Sock Feeder
Bag of Thistle or Nyjer Seed
Nyjer Seed (small). Black Oil Sunflower Seeds
for Goldfinches for House Finches and Sparrows
with thick bills to open seed
Be sure to use a Baffle or Umbrella over all your birdfeeders to protect from inclement weather.
Wet moldy seed leads to sick birds.
UMBRELLAS, GAZEBOS AND/OR BAFFLE
LOCAL BIRDING TIPS
The Audubon Society has information for beginner birders. Click on the link below or copy to your browser:
https://www.audubon.org/birding/how-to-start-birding offers suggestions on binoculars, best bird apps and suggested bird guides, and more.
Also, check out the Joy of Birds on the Audubon website, https://www.audubon.org/joy-of-birds which Audubon created to help get us through this pandemic. You will find photographs of mating rituals, bird ID, photography tips, bird nursery photos, and bird sounds. Use these stories and videos to get excited about birding in your backyard.
Nicholas Lund's writes "How to Begin Birding" and talks about binoculars or other optical gear you will need.
Field guides – You can purchase a fold out waterproof double-sided 'Backyard Birds of Southern California' by David Allen Sibley which covers 73 land birds by sending a check made out to Sierra Club SMG for $10.00 to:
Caren Hanson, 28474 Boardwalk Court, Menifee CA 92585.
APPS FOR YOUR CELL PHONE THAT CAN HELP YOU
The eBird AP allows you to upload and keep track of your sightings, photos and sounds. You'll also be contributing to a big citizen science project and have a chance to see what people in other parts of the world are doing. Big time birders rack up 5,000 to 6,000 species.
The Smart Bird ID AP, which records and identifies the songs of birds which helps take the mystery out of bird calls.
Audubon Birds of California help you find 'hot spots' and sighting alerts from birders within a 30-mile radius.
Merlin Bird ID from Cornell Lab helps you identify a bird you've sighted by answering five simple questions about it – size, coloring, etc.