Cities can be tough for bird lovers. On one hand, birds are everywhere. We see them flying in the sky, on the street and in trees. On the other hand, you might feel like the only urban birds you ever see are pigeons. Let’s face it — it’s hard to get excited about pigeons. But even in the most densely populated cities, you can find more species of birds than you might think. New York City, one of the most densely populated urban centers in the country, boasts red-tailed hawks and wild turkeys. One of the best ways to acquaint yourself with the avian life of your city is to have a birdfeeder. If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, yard or balcony, having a birdfeeder is easy, inexpensive and can add character to your apartment.
Before purchasing a birdfeeder, take several things into consideration. One is the size and type of birds you’d like to attract. Another is whether you are willing to have animals other than birds, like squirrels, eat from the feeder. Perhaps most importantly, you’ll want a feeder that is aesthetically pleasing and fits the decor of your apartment, balcony and backyard.
Depending on the size of your apartment, you’ll have a few options. Those with a garden or a yard have the most options available. A balcony can also accommodate most feeders. Many companies sell birdfeeders that are great for apartment balconies. If the closest thing your apartment has to outdoor access is a window, window birdfeeders can meet your needs. These attach to the wall of your building or are affixed directly to the window itself. The following options from The Birding Company can be purchased online.
Different types of birds require different types of feeders. If you are interested in attracting a specific type of bird, the first step is to make sure that those birds live in your area. A lot of good reference material can be found at the Audubon Society. The Audubon Society has chapters around the country and sponsors events for bird lovers on a regular basis, including species surveys, bird counts and training about how to handle injured birds.
After you’ve determined that you can find particular species in your area, it’s time to pick out the birdfeeder. This reference guide will give you a good starting point for figuring out which types of birds need which types of feeders. If you want to attract smaller species (and keep out pigeons), small birdfeeders are specifically designed to attract birds of this size. Remember to keep your apartment size in mind when selecting the specific model.
An alternative to purchasing a birdfeeder is to build one. A simple one can be built with minimum effort and can make a fun project to do as a family. You’ll find a lot of resources out there to help you get started. Check out this website for some detailed instructions, or search Google for more ideas.
If you decide to use a backyard or balcony birdfeeder, you’ll probably attract more squirrels than birds. Unless you’ve never had a feeder before, you know that squirrels will devour your birdseed if you don’t do something to prevent them. A quick Google search on squirrels and birdfeeders will introduce you to the ire that bird lovers feel when their beloved feeders are invaded by these “rats with blow-dried tails.” But you can also learn a great deal about how to keep squirrels and other rodents away. Feeders on tall poles often work well. You’ll have to grease the pole to make it too slippery for a squirrel to climb. You can also purchase a squirrel baffle, which acts as a shield to protect your feeder from climbing squirrels.
Of course, you may decide that you like watching squirrels better than watching birds. In that case, “squirrel feeders” are also available online. However you handle your squirrel problem, don’t set traps or leave poison for them. You risk harming the local bird population and other animals that frequent the area. With all the humane options available, there’s no reason to hurt squirrels.
Once you’ve found the right feeder, you can purchase birdseed at any pet supply store and also at many home and garden stores. Many companies make different formulations of seed to attract different birds (and deter squirrels). Now the biggest challenge will be taking time out of your busy schedule to see what comes to your feeder.