The Best Bird Feeder Plans Can Go Awry When You Have a Hungry Mockingbird

 

If you have put bird feeders in your yard so birds will return to your yard day after day, your plans may be foiled by a mockingbird.  These

The small but territorial brown and gray mockingbird stands vigilant watch from a tree's branch.

Eight Southern States Call the Mockingbird Their Own

beautiful birds have a lot of talents, but sharing is not one of them!

Mockingbirds are tremendously territorial; they will “invade” bird feeders and drive away other birds that had been frequenting your backyard feeder.

You have probably heard that mockingbirds will stay away from feeders with seed because they prefer berries, insects, suet, and worms.  But if you have a mockingbird in your yard, you have learned that they will eat just about anything, seeds or suet.  Mockingbirds have been known to try to drive away not only other birds, but dogs, cats, and even people.  Why keep them around when they drive other birds from your feeders?

Their ability to mimic other sounds is complemented by an aggressive nature that will help keep pests at bay.  You can even start to teach it a whistling tune, which it can pick up and repeat after a while.  You can also learn to recognize your specific mockingbird by its calls and imitations.  And perhaps the best reason for keeping him around: you can’t really get rid of him once he decides to stay.

A sketched illustration from the book, "The Backyard Bird Feeder's Bible" by Sally Roth showing a mockingbird feeder and its separation from other bird feeders in your yard

From "The Backyard Bird Feeder's Bible" see text below

If you want to get rid of a pest or stray, you take away that which initially attracted it.  This doesn’t work with mockingbirds because they will eat just about anything.  While they may prefer suet, they will take seed or whatever else you have put out for the birds. The best thing to do is to draw up a set of bird feeder plans for another spot in your yard.  Make it far away from the feeder that the mockingbird has taken over, and if you can, separate with an obstacle, like a hedge or tree.  This will become a refuge for other birds, while the mockingbird is left to his “territory.”

Birds Can Fall Ill From Using Poorly Designed and Filthy Bird Feeders

Just like people, birds can fall prey to illness. Many times these diseases come from other birds, which may have fed at the same time or just before other birds came to a feeder. Little did you or did the birds know  they

Excerpt from Hopper Bird Feeder Plans showing hopper, the roof like cover or lid, and the feeding area around the bottom of the hopper

Hopper Bird Feeder Designs Showing Roof Like Cover and Feeding Area

would leave your feeder on the way to sickness or even death. We can’t prevent sickness in birds anymore than we can stop it in ourselves, but we can certainly take precautionary measures to protect our bird visitors. As with humans, cleanliness is the first and biggest step toward being healthy, so regular cleaning of the feeder is very important. Another way your birds can fall ill is when they eat spoiled food. Usually, moisture from dew or rain is the cause for bird feed to spoil. The moisture can cause the uneaten food to become damp, which can lead to fungus and mold as well as to the general decay of the feed due to micro-organisms. In earlier posts, we’ve touched on, but haven’t thoroughly covered this critical issue, so we’ll take this opportunity to discuss the pros and cons of certain feeders and what you can do to keep them as healthy as possible for the birds you love.

There are certain features in the bird feeder plans you use that are critical to your birds’ health too, so let’s get started on learning the best practices for keeping your birds healthy. Platform or Tray feeders are easy to use for setting out virtually any kind of food out for your birds, but are the one design most open to the weather and to other animals and the waste they might leave while feeding on left over bird food. Not that birds don’t leave bird waste, they certainly do.

Platform and Tray feeders have the birds walking all over the food and leaving droppings in the process. As such, this type feeder needs cleaning daily and you should try to match the amount of food placed each morning with what the birds consume each day. Then, perform this daily cleaning at the end of every day in order to keep the other animals away at night. Make a diluted bleach solution to actually wipe the feeding area down about once every two or three months, and more often if it is rainy during the summers where you live.

Tube Feeders and Hopper Feeders should be checked periodically in the tube and the hopper for clumps of bird seed that has become moist and stuck together. This clumps of seed should be removed. Always try to check these types of feeders after a rain storm or rainy spell of weather.

Upside Down Suet Feeder with Roof Like Covering Over a Hardware Cloth Protected Suet Cake

Upside Down Suet Feeder With Roof Like Cover and Hardware Cloth Protected Suet Cake

Bird Feeder Plans should be chosen which have covers in the form of a roof over the hopper and which extends out over the feeding area around the hopper bottom. After any stormy weather the seed should be checked for moisture in the both the hopper and around the openings on the tube. These feeders should be cleaned periodically especially the area around the bottom of the hopper and any small areas where the birds can pull seed out of the tube while feeding.

If you are using a suet feeder, it is recommended you use bird feeder plans which have a design which protects the suet area under a roof like cover. See previous articles for the upside down suet feeder and the suet feeder built like a little house with a roof, and a tray around the caged suet area. During the winter, tending to these feeders is mainly an effort to keep the feeder supplied, but in the summer suet feeders need regular attention to make sure birds don’t feed on rancid suet or suet cakes. This is especially true in the south where the summers can be quite hot. A good rule for summer and suet feeders is to place them in shade in order to keep them as cool as possible.

suet, bird, feeder, plans,

Sure, Unless You Want the Same Bird Feeder Plans You Saw In a Picture

The story of my life, you see something you like and you go looking for it and you just can’t find it.  Regardless, I did find this little set of free suet bird feeder plans for an upside suet feeder.  It’s a bit late in the season to go on and on about suet feeders, but I just love them and the colorful birds they attract.  If you live in the northern states and put your suet feeder into a shady area of  the yard this summer, it will probably do just fine.  If you live in Florida like I do, you’ll do best if you make a dense suet cake, keep it in the shade as much as possible, and check it periodically to make sure it hasn’t gotten rancid.

suet bird feeder plans, suet, bird, feeder, plans, winter, bird food

Pesky Squirrel Trying to Raid a Basic Suet Feeder

Suet feeders are a Godsend to the birds struggling to find food in the winter time up north.  Not only does the fat keep the metabolism high in the birds keeping them warm, but it is very nourishing to them as well.  Suet is solid white beef fat and you can probably get some from your butcher for little or no cost.  I’ll be covering exactly how to make a suet cake in a later article, so for now just know that you can make very inexpensive suet cakes for your backyard birds.

The birds that eat suet generally eat insects or worms so the animal fat, suet, attracts them to the feeder.  The colorful birds like the cardinal, the blue jay, blue birds, the woodpecker and others like the suet.  The pesky little starlings do too, but they don’t like to hang upside down to eat, hence the need for the upside down suet bird feeder. The cage itself dissuades the starling as well.

suet, bird, feeder, plans, suet cake, bluebirds

Bluebirds at a Basic Caged Suet Feeder

The suet bird feeders are almost always a form of cage into which the suet is placed.  This type feeder is certainly easier and less expensive to buy than getting suet bird feeder plans and starting from scratch.  It is this cage that seems to be the only way to keep the squirrels away.  The squirrel has a very difficult time raiding the upside down suet feeders too.  The picture of the squirrel on the basic suet feeder cracked me up, so I had to share it with you.

Suet cakes with peanuts or peanut butter work really well to attract the colorful birds as do suet cakes with bird seed within, or just mix it all up because they seem to love it.  The birds which like the suet also enjoy black oil sunflower seeds too, and there is an excellent set of suet bird feeder plans which is a combination feeder with a tray feeder for the seed.  There are so many more kinds of suet bird feeders plans available, let’s just agree to meet again soon so I can share with you the upside down suet feeder as well as the window suet bird feeder.