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I'm a woman entering "the third chapter" and fascinated by the journey.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

What they're eating these days

There are always new things to learn about animals' food preferences, it seems.  Not until this week did I know that juncos will go for suet but can't hang onto suet cages.  The suet cake I put on the tray feeder drew its share of slate-gray-and-white visitors for a few days--until the starlings discovered it, wrestled the cake to the ground, attacked it in hordes, and pooped on it for good measure. While I am as fond of the plays of Shakespeare as the next English teacher, bringing every bird mentioned by the Bard to North America was a really stupid idea.

Wrens are visiting the tray feeder (when it's not overwhelmed by starlings), and while I would have expected the little insectivores to go for the high-protein sunflower seeds, ours seem to prefer the cracked corn.  Speaking of corn, the squirrel feeder hasn't seen much action this winter; our two enormous oaks have dropped so many acorns that the squirrels haven't been able to bury them all but are still feasting.  We also have deer regularly browsing the acorn piles, allowing for some beautiful moonlight wildlife-watching.

I am probably violating some unwritten law of birdfeeding, but cat food can be a bird attractant.  Ending up with a bag of something rejected by our finicky felines, I moistened some of the offending kibble and put a pan of it on a pile of blocks.  Thus far, it's been a big hit with the blue jays (and keeps them off the tray feeder so that the smaller birds can have a chance there).

And on the subject of finicky felines: the one-eyed, fourteen-year-old cat that we inherited last fall has begun climbing onto my lap and attempting the theft of breakfast breads.  Cinnamon raisin bagels as cat food?  Sounds pretty weird to me.


David said...


The only time I've seen starlings come to my feeder (in the four summers we've been here) was the day I did the backyard bird count. A flock of about nine of them flew in, hovered over the feeder, and then left. They came back to check it out one more time, but again didn't stay to eat a single seed. I've been feeding only black oil sunflower seed for several years now. It seems to attract a wide variety of songbirds, but not the ubiquitous starlings.

I noticed your mention of cracked corn--that (and the suet) is likely what is attracting the starlings to your feeder. Corn, millet, and the like tend to attract them, but they seem to have no interest in the black oil sunflower seeds.

I do see nuthatches and downy/hairy woodpeckers (and others that seem to eat suet) come for the seed.

David said...

Oh and I've never heard of a bagel-eating cat! How funny!

My sister had a cat that would eat most anything you fed her by hand--I remember offering her a thin shaving of watermelon and she ate it right up.

Since they were kittens, we have not fed our cats any "people food", and they still show no interest in it at all! Yay! Our bacon is safe!