Attract Birds with Reader Ideas
Increase the traffic at your feeders with these subscriber tips.
I didn't have to do a thing to "set the table" for my backyard birds—they did it themselves! You see, their sloppy table manners scattered millet seed on the ground below our feeder. Before long, these plants sprouted (pictured at right). The millet plants turned out to be natural bird feeders. In fact, I plan to plant some of the seed in my garden next year to make sure we have an abundant crop. —Wanda Taylor, Maryville, Tennessee
Sometimes I like to offer backyard birds an extra-special treat. So I head to the kitchen and whip up a batch of my trademark "bird muffins". I'll set the muffins on my tray feeder and spear some onto tree branches near our picture window. My feathered friends seem to appreciate something new, and the batch lasts for days.
Here's the recipe:
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 cup flour
- 1 cup bread crumbs
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 cup raisins
- 1/4 tablespoon sand
- 1/2 cup bacon drippings
- 1 cup water
Combine the cornmeal, flour, grated bread crumbs and baking soda in a medium bowl. Add the raisins and sand and mix thoroughly. Then add the bacon drippings and water, stirring well. Spoon the dough into muffin tins and bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Cool the muffins to room temperature before serving. Store the leftovers in the refrigerator until it's time for a refill. —Linda Matcek, Splendora, Texas
Found a Peanut
When I purchased this woodpecker peanut feeder (left), it drew more winged visitors than I ever expected. Besides woodpeckers, I also spotted this energetic little bird nibbling the peanuts. I dashed to my field guide and discovered the spirited visitor was a red-breasted nuthatch. We often saw this bird come to the feeder as we ate our breakfast. The nuthatch even began bringing some of its friends. Those amazing little acrobats were a wonderful surprise and expanded the use of our woodpecker feeder. —Stacy Dorsett, Macomb, Illinois
All the World's a Stage
The best way I've found to invite more birds to my backyard feeders is to provide several nearby perches I call "staging areas." Birds use these perches as checkpoints to make sure everything is safe as they approach a feeder. To help out, I've "planted" a few dead tree branches nearby, which the birds immediately included in their routes to my feeders. Not only do these simple objects bring more songbirds to my backyard, they also help the birds keep an eye out for predators. —Janet Lenz, DeSoto, Missouri
Pass on Your Pans
If you have a frying pan that's seen better days, why not give it to the birds? I've retired several of my old pans and transformed them into birdbaths and tray feeders. I simply remove the handles (be sure to file down any sharp edges), and they're ready to go.
My husband, Paul, dug 18-inch-deep holes with a post-hole digger and sunk 4-foot pressure-treated fence posts into the ground to support these recycled pans. To secure them, he drilled a 1/4-inch hole in the center of each pan and screwed it to the top of the fence post. If you're going to use the pans as birdbaths, use rubber washers or waterproof caulk to seal the holes. Also place small rocks in the bottoms to improve footing. If you choose to make them into feeders, drill tiny drain holes in the bottoms of the pans to keep the birdseed from getting soggy. —Jo Morton, Satellite Beach, Florida
Outsmarting the Squirrels
I thought I had outsmarted the ingenious squirrels by wrapping an aluminum stovepipe around each of my feeder posts (right). However, an especially clever critter found a way around it. It simply jumped from the ground to the feeder, avoiding the slick stovepipe. That sent me back to the drawing board. I experimented with attaching an open stovepipe, like the one pictured at right, underneath each feeder's base.
This second piece of pipe proved to be an effective baffle. The clever squirrel tried only a few times to get past the newest obstacle before scampering away to raid one of my neighbor's feeders instead. —Denise Connolly, White Lake, New York