A bird- table or bird feeder is a platform on which food for birds is placed, usually in a garden. Bird feeders offer the best way to turn your own backyard into a mini oasis for the wild birds in your area. They are usually filled with a variety of grains to suit the different species of our feathered friends. The most popular varieties of seeds include millet, safflower, sunflower and thistle.
Apart from satisfying the hunger of birds, bird feeders also provide an excellent ornithological treat. To everyone’s surprise, the conglomeration of the rarest species of birds is often witnessed in our very own backyards rather than going miles in search of a bird sanctuary. To capture the essence of bird behaviour, modern bird feeders are fitted with webcams. Bird feeders come in different varieties and designs depending upon the species of bird they cater to. The most common types are ground feeders, seed tube feeders, hummingbird feeders, suet feeders, oriole feeders etc.
Seed feeders are very much popular; they come either with tubes or hoppers. Mainly these feeders are laden with sunflower seeds to attract birds like chickadees, nuthatches, siskins and finches. They usually have a partition to segregate the different types of seeds. A suet feeder comprises a cage-like structure made of metal, coated with plastic. It is this plastic that contains a cake or suet. Suet is basically a bird feed containing animal fat, which prevents the feed from turning rancid and protects it from the adverse effects of moisture. Also, they could be hung from windows or any treetops thus giving us a clear view of the birds in action. These bird feeders attract birds like woodpeckers and flickers.
Unlike the seed, feeders Hummingbird feeders offer the feed in a liquid form. This usually consists of a sugary syrup solution that is particularly preferred by hummingbirds. To attract the bird, the solution is painted in bright colour. But care should be taken when choosing the colouring material, for often birds fall ill from harmful colouring agents.
Oriole feeders are orange in colour. They too supply a liquid form of nourishment. They especially cater to new world orioles, a species of birds having a uniquely pointed beak and tongue. Apart from the quality of the feed provided in a feeder, the success of a feeder largely depends on the strategic location in which it is placed, and its remote proximity from intruders like squirrels and cats. Squirrels pose a persistent problem for the birds as they tend to carry away the feed to their home, distorting our entire objective of feeding the birds. The best way to deal with them is to build feeders that can withstand the weight of a bird and collapse under any further weight.
In spite of the various advantages it offers to the birds, feeders still do have their own negative impacts on the bird community. The water and feed if not maintained clean would lead to the spread of diseases among birds as they come in contact with one another. It also leads to the growth of certain dominant species leading to an ecological imbalance. So go get yourself a bird feeder and experience the vicarious thrill experienced by our avian fellow mates.