Bird Feeders and Bird Watching

dualthreat

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Oct 8, 2008
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I recently moved into my new house and most mornings I sit at my desk and look out my front window. I've never been a bird watcher but where I live there seem to be a lot of species of birds (at least, to my novice eye).

I'd like to buy a bird feeder to hang somewhere in my front yard but I have no idea what to look for and I'm seeking some help or information.

What cool/unique birds live in eastern Iowa?
What bird feeders have you seen/used that you like?
What types of birds are beneficial or worth attracting?
Any stories to share

TIA!
 

DSMCy

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Just go to Menards and buy any bird feeder.
I'd recommend getting one of the more "premium" bags of seed. I've found that actually does attract better birds.
The squirrels and black birds will probably clean you out pretty fast, but try to keep the feeder full. It might take a few days for the birds to find your feeder.
Here in WDM we don't get anything too unique but we see a lot of cardinals, blue jays, house finches are pretty.

If you have a place for it, I'd highly recommend a hummingbird feeder. They are really fun to watch.
 

Oldgeezer

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You can usually find an assortment of feeders at places like Menards or Home Depot. It is impossible to make a squirrel proof feeder but you should try. Hang the feeder by a wire away from the tree trunk for starters. Niger seed (thistle) will attract finches, Iowa State bird is the Goldfinch. This takes a special tube feeder, and the seed is expensive. If you use a cheap mix with millet and cracked corn, you will attract a lot of sparrows and blue jays and squirrels. We just use black oil sunflower seed, and get a lot of finches, chickadees, blue jays, and woodpeckers. Roger Tory Peterson's bird book is the best paper book I have found for identifying birds. but my kids just use their i-phones Good Luck, it's a nice hobby.
 
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JP4CY

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I have a wire mesh and a standard finch feeder off of a double hook pole by a maple tree. Get tons and tons of house and gold finches.
 
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SCyclone

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Fort Dodge, IA
Make the investment to get "squirrel-proof" feeders. They're out there, and they do work for the most part. I use only oiled black sunflower seeds - thistle seeds get wasted a lot, and you don't want thistles growing in your yard!

You will likely get house finches, goldfinches, sparrows, cardinals, chickadees, nuthatches, and occasionally rose-breasted grosbeaks. If you get a nectar feeder, it is fairly easy to attract hummingbirds - they are very curious and social, and after a time will be comfortable being around when you are. With patience, you can probably get them to take nectar from your palm.

Just be ready for the mess.....lots and lots of seed shells. But to me, the enjoyment of watching the birds is worth it.
 

jsb

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An oriole feeder is also a good one to have.

my parents had a Scarlett tanager snd s as summer tanager for the first time this year. The Scarlett is a stunning bird.
 
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jdcyclone19

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I have quite a few feeders. The feed is the key here, not so much the feeder. Most cheap bird feed has a bunch of ground corn in it and most birds won't eat it. Black sunflower seed is good but also makes a mess.

A few months ago I switched to Wild Birds Unlimited no mess bird feed. Yes, it is more expensive but no mess and I've seen double the variety of birds that I use too. WBU is also super helpful with species in your area, I'd recommend checking them out if theres a store near you.https://www.wbu.com/

Even a cheap no mess bird feed is nicer than regular bird seed with all the shells and hulls. Thiesens sell the Price brand for $20/bag give or take. Not a bad option if you want a cheaper options without the mess.

This spring I've had a much wider variety of birds - a set of blue birds, rose breasted grosbeaks, white crowned sparrows, cedar wax wing to name a few, in addition to the normal sparrows, finches, blue jays, cardinals, wrens, etc.

One of my favorite birds to watch is the nuthatch. I have one that likes to hang upside down and walk on the bottom of the feeder.

Also, go onto ebay and buy a cheap bird book. The national geographic birds of north america is a great book and you can buy them used an older version for a few bucks. You don't really need the newest version, the birds themselves don't change just the pictures, range and a few other things.
 
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jdcyclone19

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An oriole feeder is also a good one to have.

my parents had a Scarlett tanager snd s as summer tanager for the first time this year. The Scarlett is a stunning bird.

I'm jealous - beautiful birds.
 

NWICY

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Oriole feeder, hummingbird feeder, suet feeder, a regular feeder, that'll fill up your yard with lots of birds.
 

clonehenge

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If you have a place for it, I'd highly recommend a hummingbird feeder. They are really fun to watch.

I second this...the elderly couple that own the property where our hunting trailer is has like 5 hummingbird feeders in the trees around their front porch so they get swarms of them. They are really cool to watch. The couple sits out on their front porch and watches them for hours in the late afternoon.
 

ClonesTwenty1

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I put out a platform feeder a month ago and filled it with Nyjer seed and safflower seed. Finches, doves and cardinals flocked to it.
 

jsb

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I have quite a few feeders. The feed is the key here, not so much the feeder. Most cheap bird feed has a bunch of ground corn in it and most birds won't eat it. Black sunflower seed is good but also makes a mess.

A few months ago I switched to Wild Birds Unlimited no mess bird feed. Yes, it is more expensive but no mess and I've seen double the variety of birds that I use too. WBU is also super helpful with species in your area, I'd recommend checking them out if theres a store near you.https://www.wbu.com/

Even a cheap no mess bird feed is nicer than regular bird seed with all the shells and hulls. Thiesens sell the Price brand for $20/bag give or take. Not a bad option if you want a cheaper options without the mess.

This spring I've had a much wider variety of birds - a set of blue birds, rose breasted grosbeaks, white crowned sparrows, cedar wax wing to name a few, in addition to the normal sparrows, finches, blue jays, cardinals, wrens, etc.

One of my favorite birds to watch is the nuthatch. I have one that likes to hang upside down and walk on the bottom of the feeder.

Also, go onto ebay and buy a cheap bird book. The national geographic birds of north america is a great book and you can buy them used an older version for a few bucks. You don't really need the newest version, the birds themselves don't change just the pictures, range and a few other things.


Oh! I like grossbeaks a lot. I was at my parents’ house in mid May when everything was at its peak. I think we counted 4 male grossbeaks at one time and maybe 7 male Baltimore Orioles and 1 orchard Orioles at one time.

the other bird that I enjoy seeing are indigo buntings. Really bright blue birds that look like sparrows. They are kind of hard to get to feeders and don’t stick around too long.
 

CYTUTT

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While you are at it, check out the Merlin Bird ID app. I use the bird calls to call birds and I had a little sparrow land right next to my phone. You will be able to identify birds and learn more about them.
 
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intrepid27

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As mentioned earlier cheap bird sees is mostly corn and millet that attracts sparrows, starlings, squirrels, and raccoons.

Niger seed will typically attract only finches which are pretty cool IMO. I live in Marion and there are a lot of Cardinals in my area. They really like safflower and sunflower seeds.

Theisens has bulk bird seed that is reasonable. Figure out what birds you want to attract and then do some research.

Or, encourage your neighbors to feed the birds and just enjoy them.
 

BoxsterCy

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I am in the midst of a bird refugee return. Bluejays nested in my columnar white pine and pretty much drove everything else away for several weeks. On a plus side they also drove all of the gray squirrels away. Gangs of them usually roam the yard. The only thing left unscathed were toads and chipmunks. Their chicks fledged the other day and the chickadees and cardinals are back with the cardinals reestablished as the alfa birds at my feeder.

It's been an ongoing battle at my main feed to keep raccoons and squirrels out of them. Currently have the feeder on a high enough pole that the ******* raccoons can't get it and the pole baffle is currently stymieing the tree rats. Rarely see anything at my niger seed feeder. I think the growth of all the trees and shrubs have left the location a bit too tight for finches to feel comfortable, that and all of the ******* pet cats and feral cats running loose in the hood. Might try hanging it from the ginko higher off the ground.