Saturday, January 09, 2016

First spinning chickadee

Three days ago, I hung one of my home-made, spinning, pop bottle chickadee feeders in a shrub I could watch from my window. A flock of starlings has been hogging the suet basket a few metres away, and chasing off any smaller birds that dare to show interest, but I was hoping the spinner was far enough away to allow approach.

Yesterday, the first chickadee showed up. This morning, they were lined up, taking turns.

Chickadee and feeder. The best I could do with fog, poor light, and through glass and a sheet of plastic for winter insulation.

When I've had feeders like this before, they were hanging only a metre or so from my window, where I could sneak up and take photos from behind a curtain; this one is all the way across the yard, in a tangle of branches. I'm thinking of installing a hanging pole much closer to the window.

Three starlings. The rest are waiting on a wire overhead.

Juncos don't usually use the spinning feeder; most are too clumsy to grab the perch as it flies by. The suet is there to cater to their needs, but with the starling invasion, all they get are the crumbs that the starlings let fall. Luckily, the starlings are messy eaters!

A sparrow was at the feeder today; they do fine as long as it's moving slowly. (The chickadees send it spinning at a great rate with their angled landings and takeoffs.)

I'm hoping to attract nuthatches and finches. Spilled black-oil sunflower seeds may bring in other birds, as well.

Now, how do I discourage starlings, without frightening off all the other birds?

(Is anyone interested in the instructions for making these chickadee feeders? Let me know, and I'll post them.)


  1. I tried making suet balls, but when I put them out they got covered with black gnats so I took them down. This trip to the cabin I am going to try with bird seed, but maybe I shouldn't. I don't want to attract Juncos. One year they decimated my newly planted garden to get to the seeds. There must have a flock of thirty or so, and boy were they persistent. - Margy

  2. Margy, try making the spinning feeder; juncos can't handle it. I've only ever seen one junco try it, and mostly he fell off without getting anything.
    I've always fed juncos in the winter time, but either with the suet, or with small seeds on cement, so they don't touch the garden.
    I'll post instructions for the feeder tomorrow.

  3. You might try threading the cake thru a solid piece of board and hanging it so the long side of the basket is flush against the underside of the board. It is like the basket is the house foundation ( a very short house) and the board the roof. This leaves the broad face of the suet exposed on the underside of the roof. Starlings are not that good at clinging upside down. Chickadee, nuthatch bushtit and woodies are.

    1. you would need to get the suet out and away from the shrubby bushes where they have perches and hang mid air under a large limb or use a feeder hook / pole

    2. Upupaepops, that's a really good idea! Keep the rain off the suet, too!
      I'm looking into getting a pole that I can set in the lawn, away from the shrubbery.


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