When we hear birds chirping, we think of it as songs or calls, but there is a difference. Songs are used to attract mates and females select the males with the most melodious songs. Calls are used to warn of danger when predators are known to be in the area.
They Will Come
It can be very interesting to attract birds to your yard, study them, and see if you can identify their different songs. If you keep a record, you will begin to see a pattern in their arrival and feeding habits. Many birds stay in Montana in the winter.
If You Feed Them
Birds will only feed where they feel safe. If you’ve ever put out a feeder and no birds came, it was probably because in the wrong place. Place feeders near, but not too close to, trees where they can rest and check out the area for predators before they descend to the feeder. Evergreens are ideal as they provide good cover and year-round hiding places. Shrubs and thickets are also good hiding places.
Where’s the Chow
If you are hanging feeders in other trees, you don’t want them where squirrels or cats can pounce on your birds. You will need to use feeders that are squirrel proof, use squirrel deterrent cones, or provide a feeding station for the squirrels so they leave your bird feeders alone (ha, ha).
Is That a Window or an Escape Route
Feeders can be placed near or on a window, but be sure to move planters or other objects that could hide cats or other predators, and put decals on the window so birds are less likely to think the window is an escape route. There are also deck and yard hangars that can hold up to four feeders.
Do Your Research
Before buying feeders, do some research on the birds that may come to your yard. Some like to perch, some will hang from the sides, some need large holes in the feeder, some need small holes or mesh. Some birds won’t feed near certain other birds.
Next post, we’ll talk about kinds of bird feeders.
For an excellent guide to birds of Montana, with pictures, habitat, and identifying information check out the Montana Field Guides at http://fwp.mt.gov/education/teachers/birdGuide.html