Seeds of a Dilemma

Grosbeaks party on the platform feeder

I have a seed problem. I bought a new bird feeder from Wild Birds Unlimited. It serves its purpose admirably, which is to attract large finches, such as cardinals and grosbeaks. Well, the grosbeaks don’t arrive until spring, but the cardinals definitely love this feeder. It’s a tube feeder with extra large perches designed for the big finches. The problem is that it generates a staggering amount of spilled seed.

I used to attract large finches with a platform feeder. It definitely did the trick, but it had a couple of problems. First was that it attracted  birds other than the large finches. Mourning doves, for example. I have nothing against mourning doves. I like the plaintive “coo, coo.” And I don’t mind how it sounds like they need some WD-40 when they fly. But those things are eating machines. Whenever I put out new seed, a squadron of mourning doves would descend, and the seed is gone.

Mourning dove on the platform feeder.

Also, the seed was exposed to the elements on the platform feeder, so it was always getting wet and gunky.

Judy, of course, didn’t want me to stop using the platform feeder. She thought the mourning doves looked like they were having a cocktail party on a terrace when they congregated there. Judy is extremely conservative when it comes to any kind of change in domestic life.

So I got the new tube feeder with the extra large perches. As I say, the new feeder works, but all the spilled seed on the grass looks really, well, seedy. So what to do? Can’t go back to the platform feeder, that would mean admitting to Judy that I made an unnecessary purchase. And once I start going down that road, it could spell ruination for future gardening and related  projects.

I recently bought some cheap, wide plastic birdbaths without stands. I placed them on the ground under the tube feeder, and they catch at least some of the seed. My thought is to remove them when company comes over. I’m also considering taking up the turf around the feeder and replacing it with stone or brick pavers. That would make it easier to occasionally scoop up the fallen seed.

I should check out the price of sunflower chips and see if it would be that much more expensive than the safflower seeds I’m using.

If anyone who reads this has suggestions for dealing with this problem, let me know – even if it’s just the seed of an idea. (Sorry.)

8 Comments on “Seeds of a Dilemma

  1. I know there are trays – Droll Yankee has some – that fasten to the bottom of tube feeders, have drainage holes, and are meant to catch the overflow. For instance Droll Yankee has “Droll Om-T Omni Seed Tray Bird Feeder”. Or maybe one of your birdbaths with holes (though that may be too big?)

  2. I just let the seed drop to the ground. Very little of it goes to seed, because the birds happily scratch it up there as well.

  3. I should check out Droll Yankee. As far as just letting it drop to the ground, I’ve been doing that, but my wife hates the way that looks. On Saturday I bought a bag of sunflower chips. I’ll see how that works out. They are more expensive, but you get more bird food (as opposed to shells) in a bag. I’ll try it out and see.

  4. I use the sunflower hearts a lot in my tube feeders. It does get nasty if it gets wet for very long. However little goes to waste. I keep one flat feeder with a mix of hearts, cracked corn, and some peanuts – the redbellied woodpeckers prefers the flat feeder over the peanut feeder for some reason. I put a squirrel dome over the open feeders to reduce the rain. Some day we’ll make a better flat feeder that keeps the seed dry but is squirrel-raccoon-possum proof….I know, dream on!

    • Platform. It’s nice if there’s a hood over it of some sort. I have a number of additional feeders including hopper (Absolute 2 – squirrel resistant and discourages bigger birds but a piece of cake for raccoons,) tube feeders, suet feeder, peanut feeder….most on a “bird feeder tree” with a cone to keep four legged critters off.

  5. Ah, sounds like a good set up. I have two bird feeding poles from wild birds unlimited. I have two suet feeders, two tube feeders, a peanut feeder, and for later in the spring a feeder which I use to offer jelly and oranges for the orioles. Also two finch socks with nijer seed. Both my poles have squirrel baffles that work pretty well.

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