We are still snow bound. Last week, I thought the snow might be on the verge of melting for the last time of the season. Silly me. On Tuesday, we got another 8″. It is melting again, but slowly.
So not very much to be done in the garden right now. Instead, I can fiddle with my bird feeding operation.
Yesterday, I bought some cylinders of nuts, seed, and dried fruit bound together with gelatin. These go under the product name “Stackables”, which sounds a lot like “Snackables”, pre-packaged lunches for grade schoolers you can buy at the grocery. We bought Snackables for a while, but they were expensive and probably unhealthy. Naturally, our kids loved them.
The similarity in names is probably not a coincidence. Our interest in backyard bird feeding intensified greatly once our kids had moved out of the house, and I don’t think we are alone in that.
Stackables are sold by Wild Birds Unlimited, which provides something in the way of bona fides. They have holes through the center, and you slide them onto the central pole of a bell-feeder, which I already owned. The packaging claims that Stackables are attractive to Woodpeckers, Nuthatches, Grosbeaks, Catbirds, and others.
I wanted to try out the Stackables as a replacement for the shelled peanuts that I put out during the winter. Shelled peanuts are very popular with Nuthatches and Woodpeckers. They’re also very popular with Starlings, Grackles, and House Sparrows, and I’d guess 80% of the peanuts were eaten by these nuisance birds.
The nuisance birds also eat from the cylinders, but supposedly get a smaller share because they have to work harder to get the parts they like. I’m a little skeptical, but we’ll see.
Another advantage of the cylinders is that you don’t need to keep 20 lb. sacks on your porch, as you do with shelled peanuts. Also, they’re supposed to provide a better look at the birds, as they have to stay on the feeder longer in order to get what they want.
Other foods we provide include suet, sunflower, peanuts in the shell, and nyjer seed. Peanuts in the shell are popular with Cardinals and Bluejays, but they provide little of interest for the nuisance birds. Nuthatches and Woodpeckers will eat from peanuts in shell, though given the choice they will go for shelled peanuts. In the summer we put out grape jelly and oranges for the Orioles.
I put out the cylinders this morning. The response so far has been modest: Cardinals and Red Breasted Nuthatches have taken some bites.
This is not surprising. It usually takes a while for the birds to get used to a new food. Also, for some reason this is a slow day in general at the feeders.
Have you made any changes lately in your bird feeding practices, or are you thinking about making any changes?