The winter feeder season!

The weather has finally started to chill and the rains of autumn have arrived. My lovely summer visitors, chiefly the green finches and the hawfinches have gone south to find warmer weather. And so the time of year has come where I change the feeders. In a previous post you will have seen the summer version and today you will catch a glimpse of the winter feeder. So what is on offer on the 8th floor balcony? The offering usually stays the same year round with the exception of a couple of additional things. I feel very strongly about feeding the company only good and natural foods. Meaning no bread allowed on my balcony!

The masterpiece, photo from Jacqueline’s balcony.

So here it is, the beautiful green masterpiece as I call it. I constructed this one also by hand creating it with elements that I saw on the Internet. I built it with the idea of keeping the flying rats out of the food supply, as well as the elements such as snow. It’s going on it’s second season and the birds absolutely love it. Most of my feeders are painted green as the company prefer the color and it makes the feeders look more inviting. The winter feeder is created with wood, sheet metal, and plexiglass. I then pieced together the materials in my kitchen and finally attached it to the balcony railing. The look I wanted to achieve was something you would see in a country garden, akin to a mini bird mansion. Yet at the same time I wanted to have good utility of the feeder. The base with plexiglass is a superb feature as it allows for better viewing and light inside. Not only that but because they are removable it makes it super easy to fill and to clean out. The metal roof holds up exceptionally well to all the autumn/winter rains and snow falls, and I like the sound effects when rain hits the roof. The wire that crosses the openings is to restrict access to birds of smaller size, however I recently caught the woodpecker going in and out so it mainly keeps the fat pigeons out. All in all I am really pleased with this model, if I were to remake it I would like to find a way of making the base a little more hefty to balance the roof.

By now you are probably wondering what kind of goodies are in the feeder. The trays inside are filled with sunflower seeds unshelled for the softer beaked birds, shelled sunflower seeds for the titmice and finches. I did a fair bit of reading on the subject of feeding my feathered friends, in doing so I saw repeatedly that fancy seed mixtures were more of a hassle. The reason being that there was huge waste due to birds being selective, and causing a horrendous mess trying to dig out their favorite seeds. So being that I am a more practical person, I researched the things that birds ate from those seed mixes. I found a resounding vote for sunflower seeds, nyjer seeds, and peanuts. So it was of to the bulk food section for regular visits. It has been very successful for me to do it this way because I don’t want to upset my neighbors with the mess, nor do I want to deal with it on my own balcony. And it just makes sense to not waste money on stuff they will not eat.

The peanut basket, well used!

As for the hooded crows. They have a basket, which they at first wanted to take with them, filled with peanuts in the shell. The pigeons have an irritating habit of staring in the window, and then throwing the peanuts out of the basket as I watch in disbelief. The crows however, take turns carrying off as many as they can fit in their beaks. Occasionally I give boiled eggs, which they drill holes into and fly off with, meat scraps, but most coveted and fought over is the cottage cheese. They will have aerial wars, fighting to make off with the coveted quarry before the rest do. The routine however, is the dutiful collecting the peanuts until the basket is left empty. Some of the murder’s more brave members are comfortable enough to crack open nuts, and even rest on the railing for a bit. So long as I keep the balcony door closed, and do not get to close to the window.

The suet feeder. It is hung upside down to prevent the greedy pigeons and starlings from getting to it.

The woodpecker also like the crows comes by for peanuts. He predominantly keeps to the peanut tube, which holds the lightly roast unshelled variety. But from time to time he digs into the basket for a peanut in the shell and most recently has been spotted slipping into the feeder for a tasting of sunflower seeds. He first came to my balcony during the late winter, after a full spring and summer of drawing the attention of the feathered fauna. It was also about the same time as I began the supply of suet cakes. During the late autumn and winter I add suet as an additional food source for the birds. My initial research was for the titmice, but as it turned out it was a huge success with everyone including the woodpecker. The woodpecker is very much a regular for suet and when he drops in for his snack time he dominates it. The other day he plucked a few feathers out of an impatient tree sparrow, I felt bad for laughing. Better luck with some patience and wait your turn!

I hope that this inspires you to set up your own feeders, or maybe just feed a few little birds in the park. You don’t have to be so elaborate, perhaps just a little suction cup window one. But I do encourage you to try because birds bring the vibrational energy of joy!

More about the company aka the birds.

How I ended up with a plethora of winged friends on the balcony started with my curiosity. A curiosity which stems from them being one of my animal totems. Each type of bird has a special significance and they appear when advice is needed!

The summer feeder on the balcony. This is the latest version after many different prototypes. Photo by Jacqueline

When I moved to this flat, I had been searching for a place where there was more greenery. I selected this flat because of its open balcony that would allow me to do some container gardening and perhaps have a bird feeder. Being situated nearby one of the large parks I was curious about what birds there were. I have a fondness for the winged fauna and so I was eager to see who might come by. So along with my gardening pots, I erected a bird feeder. Which was by no means the beautiful sophisticated one that is now on display, more of just a small basket. It was not long before they became curious about the new resident and began dropping in to have a look. The reward for my efforts was a beautiful mated pair of hawfinches, followed by the house sparrow, and then the hooded crows. And not so much to my delight the flying rats. This is the name that city dwellers have given to the urban pigeon, who congregate in large flocks everywhere to everyone’s dismay.

Juvenile hawfinch photo by Jacqueline

Since starting my balcony birding, I now have way to many to name and keep count of. The beginning was just a small group, but that has since changed. In addition to my year rounders, we have seasonal rotations and special guests who stop by to check what is on offer. I have research each of the various birds and provide them with things that they need in their diets. This means that the buffet is careful curated for them and does not contain things that cause them issues with digestion. And while there are an abundance of mainly sunflower seeds, the main attraction is peanuts! It is quite possible that almost every bird snacks on peanuts. Thus making them in high demand and can cause problems if the feeder is emptied without getting a prompt refill. They are quick to call my attention to the empty feeders and can be rather bothered if I run out of something.

Green finch juvenile. Part of the summer visitors, they migrate south for warmer weather. Photo by Jacqueline

Personally I find joy and pleasure watching them on the balcony. The main focus of the group will be the titmice, the sparrows, the hooded crows, and the woodpecker. You will hear from them regularly, as they are my year round residents. I hope you enjoy the stories we will share about the fun things we get up to!