How About Those Birds?

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Published on: Sep. 2, 2005

Last revision: Nov. 22, 2010

can I stop it?

A: Northern cardinals and northern mockingbirds often attack their reflection in windows, especially during the summer months when they are most territorial. This behavior can be annoying, but is usually easy to stop.

You can break up the reflection by placing an opaque, nontoxic substance on the outside of the window (fake “snow,” newspaper, etc.). Or, place balloons, streamers, wind chimes or other flashy objects near the window to scare off birds. A sprinkler close to the window also may deter birds.

Q: What are the best foods to feed birds?

A: Black, oil-type sunflower seed attracts a wide variety of birds to your feeder. Providing niger seed (also known as thistle) helps draw in finches. Put up a suet cage to attract woodpeckers and other insect eating species. In spring and summer, you may attract Baltimore orioles to your feeder by putting out halves of citrus fruit.

Bird species have different methods of feeding. Some prefer to feed on the ground, while others prefer to forage in trees. Be sure to provide food at multiple levels to attract a maximum variety of birds.

Keep in mind that if you feed birds, you’ll usually feed squirrels as well. Some folks enjoy their antics, but others do not appreciate their large appetites and sometimes surly behavior. Squirrels are clever and often find their way into supposedly squirrel-proof feeders. If squirrels are a problem, try switching to safflower seed. Squirrels do not seem to like it as well.

Q: What can I do to help birds?

A: 1) Keep your cat indoors and encourage your neighbors to do likewise. Cats kill a lot of birds every year, and putting a bell on their collar or declawing them does not significantly lessen their hunting success. Visit online to find out more.

2) Drink certified shade-grown coffee. Growing methods for shade-grown coffee provide better habitat for Missouri birds wintering in Central and South America than newer full-sun, row-crop methods. If your grocery store doesn’t carry shade-grown coffee, ask for it. Many brands are available online.

3) Support local bird conservation initiatives and join organizations that work to further bird conservation.

Q: Where are some good places to see birds in Missouri?

A: More than 400 species of birds have been documented in Missouri, and we are fortunate to have lots of great places to see them.

The online Missouri Conservation Atlas provides directions and area descriptions of MDC areas throughout the state. Many of these areas offer birding opportunities. “A Guide to Birding in Missouri,” published by the Audubon Society of Missouri, also offers detailed directions and site descriptions for some of the best birding areas.

Q: I have a sick or injured bird at my feeder. What should I do?

A: Disease and weather take their toll on birds so it’s not unusual to find a sick, injured or dead bird at your feeder. However, finding more than a few at once could be cause for concern.

Make sure your seed is not spoiled and store it in a dry place in a sealed container. Don’t let piles of old seed hulls accumulate under your feeder. This is unsanitary and can attract rodents. Clean your feeder regularly using a diluted bleach solution.

Chemicals used for lawn care also may be killing the birds. Be sure you water the chemicals well into your lawn if you use them.

Birds that fly into windows are often just stunned and need a little time to recover before they can fly off on their own. Again, make sure you keep pets and children away from the bird. If you have an injured bird that is not recovering (broken wing, etc.) and that you want to help, contact your local veterinarian and ask them about licensed wildlife rehabilitators in your area.

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