There are two good articles in the 2007 summer edition of the Ontario Nature magazine which deal with activities many of us undertake, building bird boxes and feeding the birds. In light of their importance, there are points that need to be considered.
Building Nest Boxes – Doing it Right
If you are interested in helping cavity-nesting species it is important to do it with the birds’ best interests in mind. Many bird houses, both commercial and home-built ones are inhospitable and even dangerous to the birds you want to attract. Common mistakes include perches and hole sizes that allow predators easy access, inability to monitor and clean the boxes and poor location.
The links below will provide invaluable resources for both setting up nest boxes and joining a trail-monitoring team.
- Ontario Eastern Bluebird Society
- North American Bluebird Society
- Nature Skills: How to Build a Birdhouse
- Wild Bird Watching
Feeding the Birds
Feeding the birds is enjoyed by so many of us. However there are important considerations that must be made if we want to provide the best for our feathered friends.
Experts suggest that black oil sunflower seed is the best for attracting the widest range of species. Niger seed is particularly enjoyed by redpolls, siskins and finches. Most commercial feed mixes contain a high amount of millet which is usually the last to be eaten and only reluctantly! Of real concern, is the high level of toxins that are found in some feed. In Britain and the United States, toxin levels five times the legal limit were found in a quarter of the samples tested.
Other successful feeding tips include cleaning of the bird feeders. This should be done regularly to prevent the spread of avian disease. Hummingbirds should not be given solutions with artificial colouring agents in them because they have been linked with birth defects. And of course, placement of bird feeders is critical for their protection.
You can participate in Project FeederWatch which requires reporting the species present at your feeder.
Below are some links regarding the feeding of birds:
Project Feederwatch: www.bsc-eoc.org
National Wildlife Federation Backyard Wildlife Habitat (U.S.): www.nwf.org/backyard