Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Feeding the Birds in the Summer

Feeding the birds in the wintertime is a no-brainer for most people, but feeding them in the summer is not as widespread it seems. It is a shame too because summertime feeding of birds is so much more rewarding.

I've always fed the hummers in the summer and allowed the plants to feed other birds. Well, like always I put out my hummingbird feeders this summer but they were quickly inundated with ants! Since my hummingbird feeders were mounted to my porch and a second story window, ants were a bit too close to the inside of the house for comfort, so I sought to find another way to feed not only the hummers but all birds. I wanted a station that was convenient and pretty. I think I've found it. The above feeding station is made from a pole (purchased from Heimonsohn Salvage for about $2), and some old hay rake tines. I found these hay rake tines at a roadside stand off from Ashland City Road here in Clarksville. I think they are fairly common but I'd been unable to locate them until recently. I set the pole in concrete, added the hay rakes, and hung my bird feeders and what a busy place it has turned out to be! I think the total cost of the station was a grand total of $20, not including the bird feeders and food. A pretty good investment really.

I can watch this station from inside of the house. Of course I don't get the close up views that I did when the feeders were hung from the porch, but I did leave one type of feeder on the porch, a suet feeder. I was under the impression you should not put out suet in the summer since the temperature was so hot it would melt the suet. Well, it turns out that is not so. I left a suet block out front and I tell you it is as busy as the feeding station. There were three woodpeckers on it at one time recently. I could not believe it. Cardinals, finches, and woodpeckers are the main diners, but the occasional chickadee fits in a bite or two as well. This suet feeder is within 5 feet of my living room window and I can see it clearly when sitting and relaxing. I recently taped a woodpecker feeding on the suet, complete with background noise in the form of a television. I thought I'd share the video with you all....

in the garden....enjoying the birds.

video

33 comments:

  1. Good morning Tina, I also enjly the birds, though I find I put less seed out in the summer as they have all my blooms to rip apart and eat the seeds. I do feed the hummers because many of the trumpet flowers in my yard haven't opened yet.

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  2. Tina , you put a lot of thought into this and wow ! .. I don't blame you about trying to stear clear of the ant situation .. that would make me crazy too. We restrict ourselves to the Goldfinches (local finches and our doves enjoy the garden too though).
    I always have to have an eye out for neighborhood cats though .. now THEY can make me CRAZY ! LOL

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  3. What a good idea! I'll have to remember that, all the cast iron and rakes we break!? Nice video. Off to the vets.....

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  4. The birds never did want much to do with our suet. I just threw it away because the cakes had turned black, yuck!--Randy

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  5. Ahhh! There's nothing more comforting than seeing your plants flower and birds feeding on your food!

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  6. I USED to feed the hummers, until the bears took over and destroyed my feeders! So, I now plant lots of flowers that hummers like. Penstemon, Nepeta, Salvia, ETc.
    Great post about feeding birds in the summmer. You are right, we forget sometimes.
    Rosey

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  7. That is an awesome idea! I really need to do something similar around here to keep my bird friends happy! I am pretty frustrated that Blotanical isn't working so now I am trying to read my favorite blogs in a reader. Sorry to be late on my catching up!

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  8. I have one hummingbird feeder out but the hummers don't seem to use it much, there are too many other things to sip on! The other birds are suffering now due to the blackbirds. Every time I fill the feeders up a flock of blackbirds/starlings comes and eats everything. I haven't filled it up in a couple days but I will today, maybe they won't come...maybe.

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  9. What great idea with the bird feeder station. I feed the birds fall, winter,and spring. But, come summer every time I try to put feed out I get a whole flock of crows that invade it. I use without the corn but the crows still come and make a mess. Do you have any problems with crows in the summer time at your feeders? I actually don't mind the squirrels - they are fun to watch - but the crows I don't like. -Jackie

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  10. I love the station you created. A similar setup from Wild Birds Unltd or any of the modular feeding stations would run you well over a hundred bucks.

    It's especially fun to watch the parent birds bring their youngsters to the feeders and suet.
    Marnie

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  11. Forgot to mention, there is a thing called an ant moat or ant baffle if you ever decide to bring ahummingbird feeder back to the porch. Available online.
    Marnie

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  12. Hmmm guess we're the opposite - we feed birds in the winter but are so much more aware in the summer because we enjoy watching all the new ones we get then. Of course we're a bit disappointed that the prices skyrocketed - can't even hardly afford Finch food.
    Great post Tina!

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  13. Good morning all! Today is a garden day for me so I am rushing! Can't wait as it beautiful outside.

    Janet, I never did much feeding in the summer but there are so many birds it is a joy to see them close. The suet is by far the easiest. I never knew they would eat it in the summer.

    Joy, I have one of those pesky cats who does not know the difference between pretty birds and bad chipmunks. Grrr! I always scold her when she stalks the birds. This morning she left the remains of a chipmunk so I'll keep her:) Cats are a concern for birds.

    Dawn, Good luck at the vets and go Tartarus!

    Randy, They make a suet that is year round now. I am so shocked the birds love it so much. It does not stay around long here and is pretty easy-a bit messy yes.

    Chandramouli, You are so right. Makes it all the more rewarding.

    Rosey Pollen, Hello and welcome. I can guess living in the Rockies there must be many birds enjoying any food you put out. That is a bit scary indeed. Flowers work so well instead

    Heather, It was most fun. I enjoyed it and am so happy to have a source for the rakes. Blotanical is a hit or miss with picks lately. I'm always happy when it works but don't do it as much as I used to. Don't worry about it.

    Dave, I see the hummers everywhere on the flowers but surprisingly they do still visit the feeders. Not as much as during migration but a bit. I hope those blackbirds move on!

    Jackie, I am lucky in that I am almost completely under trees and I think that helps with keeping the big birds away. So far no crows. I think having some kind of shelter overhead helps attract only songbirds. Not sure. I did have starlings one year-but only in the winter. I don't like the squirrels at all and so far I've been lucky with this.

    Marnie, I love it too! Everything is SO expensive nowadays. It's frustrating. Nothing like a bit of creativity that works well. I am all about function here. Pretty or not. This one surely fits the bill. I will check out the ant moat but it was more them crawling up the railings and posts and walls that bothered me. I am not sure if a moat would work. This year the ants have been having a population explosion.

    Linda, Yes! The sunflower seeds went up so much. They like doubled in price after the gas crisis last year, but seem to have backed off now. Whew! I usually splurge on one big bag per month. I just so love them. Winter summer feeding is a big difference for many for sure.

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  14. Oh how I love that station, great job!!!!!! I have 2 stations out back with 1 right outside my window and each have 4 hooks but I counted 8 on yours. Wow, really great job. We put the one by my window in concrete this year but the other one is just pounded in the ground. I have always used suet in the summer and never had a problem but then again our summers are not hot like yours.

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  15. We have so many bugs here I don't need to feed the birds! lol

    We have a lot of hummingbirds here although I don't hang any feeders. It's great fun to watch the hummers at feeders though. I just didn't want to change the nectar every day and fight the insects!

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  16. What a cool feeder, Tina! I keep wanting to put up feeders to view from the house but I would probably be BAD at filling them up..There was a red cardinal the other day on my water fountain with the backdrop of red monarda but couldn't get a good pic..bumming! Not a bad investment for all the joy they bring...good luck with the feeder.

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  17. That is an awesome idea!! Now to find some hay tines!!
    Thank for sharing!

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  18. Love the feeding station! I've been finding ants in my hummingbird feeder too. I tried doing the vaseline on the pole trick, but this year the still kept getting in.
    I think you're right about summer feeding. Our feeders are busy all the time right now. Great video!

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  19. You and Skeeter have the greatest ideas, Tina. I haven't seen one of those old hay rakes in years, but I'll really be looking for them now. It's nice to have your feeders all in one location instead of scattered around. It's funny, but this morning I was admiring a bird feeder full of activity outside of the salon where I was getting my hair cut. I should have had my camera!

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  20. herzliche Grüße für euch alle von Kathrin aus Bremen

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  21. Mom, Those feeding stations are sure a good thing. I remember yours. Skeeter also has one and that's kind of where I got the idea to consolidate. It worked out well. Long day here.

    Sweetbay, Many bugs here too. When I get up in the night (sometimes) I can sit here and watch the bats go back and forth just scooping the bugs up. I think that is almost as much fun as watching the birds.

    Lynn, It is a commitment to fill feeders. I am not always good at it, but the birds don't mind. Bummer on not catching the cardinal near the flower.

    Mary, Hello and welcome! Good luck finding those tines. I looked everywhere and finally lucked out. I guess farmers might be the best source?

    Catherine, Those ole ants are pretty persistent for sure. Summer feeding is most fun with all the birds and color.

    W2W, Hello! Good to have a hair salon with a busy feeder right outside the window. Sure helps the time to pass by quickly. Keep your eyes open for those tines. Thanks on the idea compliment. Every now and then I think of a good one, not too often though as usually hubby gets all the good ideas:)

    Kathrin, Hello!

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  22. My suet feeder is popular in the summer too as are the sunflower seeds. All the young birds hang around in groups and come to practice their newly learned feeding techniques.

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  23. This is just a brilliant use of old materials, Tina, I love it!

    I'm one of those who never puts food out in the summer, but I do have some leftover seeds so maybe I'll try and see what happens.

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  24. Thanks for the suggestions, Tina! I haven't put any suet out this summer, thinking too that it would melt in the heat. But I may have to rethink that. I have my hummingbird feeder hanging from one of those shepherd's hooks for hanging plants so that it's close enough to the porch for me to--some day!--get a photo. I had one hanging on a porch bracket last year, and it attracted ants as well. Your solution to where to place your feeders is very clever!

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  25. Hi Tina, Loved the feeding station. Super idea. How did you connect the tines to the pipe?
    You can't find goodies like that around here. This is mostly people having fun state. I miss being able to find "things" that are useful.
    My windows are small so I can't see much outside unless I get up & stand & watch.
    Jean, Dawn, Anonymous, Skeeter & Nina, I hope you all had a lovely day whether in your garden or just relaxing & enjoying the day.
    We've had so much rain of late & this Spring that my feeders get soaked. I try to put them under the eve of the shed but the squirrels empty them so fast.

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  26. If only I could find the hay rakes, I have a pole. I love the hay rake feeder, Tina.

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  27. Hi Tina --I have been a bird feeding slacker, hehehe. I only forgot to put out my hummmingbird feeder this year:( But, with all the rain this year my flowers are giving them something sweet to eat:)
    Hi everyone -hope your day was as good as mine today. Kiddos had track -and went on a few walks and a trip to the library -great day:0)

    Hi Lola --I'm sure when you come up this way you will find lots of treasures. Lots of great little shops and side of the road places to find treasures:0) I think of Florida as a vacation haven --relaxing time:) Have a great night!

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  28. Love your homemade feeder, it looks very fancy :)
    I'm one of the winter-only bird feeders, mostly because I'm lazy, but you've inspired me. I should try putting out suet again. I have had woodpecker visitors, I should encourage them more. Unlike your garden, mine doesn't have many flowers, but this year I moved and accidentally divided some crocosmia, which resulted in 4 different clumps, and I've had hummingbirds everywhere. Such a treat!

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  29. Your feeder looks great! Just love to see/read about ideas you implement(no pun intended) in the garden! Enjoyed the bird video too.
    Have a great day!

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  30. But even if you get ants, won't the birds eat them? I agree that feeding the birds in the summer is just as satisfying. We leave some food out for them, too, but since we live in the outskirts of London we don't get as many birds as you do. Hummingbirds? That'll be the day!

    Many thanks for your post.

    Greetings from London.

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  31. You clever woman! I've been thinking of making a birdfeeding station for sometime. :)

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  32. Hi all, sometimes I forget to come back to older posts but remembered a question here.

    Lola, the hay rake tines are just stuck in the hole at the top of the pole. I do have to use spacers (rocks) to keep the tines apart though. Easy to do.

    ACIL, Some birds do eat the ants. The finches are the ones I've seen eating the ants. The hummers don't. The ants are just really an annoyance to me, probably not to the birds though.

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  33. Tina, we use the "No Melt" type suet and it does not melt at all. The birds love it and they eat them year round!

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