Questions & Answers

The Usual Suspects at a Saucer Feeder
The Usual Suspects at a Saucer Feeder

And now, some frequent questions I get about Oakmont’s birds and related topics.

Q: What is that red(dish) bird I see at my feeder?
A: It’s a male house finch.

Q: What is that yellow bird I see at my feeder?
A; It’s a goldfinch – usually a Lesser Goldfinch.

Q: What is the hawk that hangs around my bird feeder?
A: It’s probably a Cooper’s Hawk. Their diet is small birds, and they quickly learn that a feeder is like an avian Trader Joe’s. Poofs of feathers in your yard are tell-tale remains of their latest meal.

Q: How can I discourage hawks from eating birds at my feeder?
A. Remove the feeder(s) for a week or so. The hawk will move on to richer pastures, and so will your songbirds. But the songbirds will be quicker to return when you reinstate the feeders than the hawk.

Q: I want to attract birds but not rats and other varmints. What kind of bird feeder and food should I use?
A: The bird feeders that spill the least amount of seed on the ground (discouraging rodents) are saucer-shaped with a substantial rim. They often come with a dome over the top to keep larger birds like crows away. And bird food sold as “No Waste” or “Patio Mix” or “Sunflower Chips,” while more expensive, is most likely to be completely consumed by your bird patrons, who tend to sort through their food and toss the less-desirable elements away.

You can also use a suet feeder. Many birds – from woodpeckers to wrens to warblers – enjoy C&S Peanut Delight No-Melt Suet Dough, available at Home Depot and elsewhere. Squirrels also like it, but that’s life.

Q: How do I make hummingbird nectar?
A: Add ¼ cup sugar to 1 cup of water. Stir well until dissolved (or microwave for 3-4 minutes and allow to cool completely). Don’t use food coloring.

Q: What’s the single most effective thing I can do to attract birds to my yard?
A: Put out a bird bath – or just a large shallow container filled with water – in a quiet place. Birds welcome the chance to drink and bathe. Often, individual birds will show up for a bath every day at the same time.

Q: What should I do when I find an injured or sick bird?
A: If you can pick it up easily – don’t chase it, and always wear garden gloves! – gently place it in a box or bucket, in a shaded place outside where it can rest safely. If it’s just stunned, say from slamming into a window, it may recover soon and fly off. If not, try calling the Bird Rescue Center (707-523-2473) for guidance.

Like birds and bird watching? Join the Oakmont Birders mailing list by contacting bkendrick@jps.net. Questions about birds? Want a “Birds Seen in Oakmont” checklist? Send an e-mail.

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