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Cornell FeederWatch Cam

The Cornell FeederWatch Cam is located at the Treman Bird Feeding Garden at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology in Ithaca, New York. It features an Axis P1448-LE camera with an ETS ML1-WPW microphone and is based in the Sapsucker Woods and near a 10-acre pond, so it attracts a wide variety of species.

The site is dedicated to Joseph H. Williams, who served on the administrative board of the Cornell Lab from 1990 to 2018, according to the camera’s website.

What birds visit Cornell FeederWatch Cam?

More than 40 bird species have been spotted on the Cornell FeederWatch Cam, including Northern Cardinal, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Indigo Bunting, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Pileated Woodpecker, and Ruby-throated Hummingbird. AllAboutBirds.org keeps a running list of species on the Cornell FeederWatch page with photos to help you identify birds you spot while watching.

Cornell’s feeder setup receives a variety of visitors thanks in part to the various types of feeders it has. In the camera’s view, we can see a tray/platform feeder, suet feeders, a peanut feeder, and seed feeders. 

What is the best thing to put in a bird feeder?

The best thing to put in a bird feeder depends on the type of birds you want to visit.

Sunflower seeds are a popular choice for most birds. Striped sunflower seeds are larger but can be handled easily by birds like jays and cardinals, and the black-oil variety are great for smaller birds like chickadees and titmice. Other popular seeds include red and white proso millet, safflower seed, milo, corn, and nyjer seed.

Corn and peanuts (another popular treat) develop dangerous “aflatoxins” when they get wet. Corn and peanuts sold for humans and pets are tested for it. However, there is no testing requirement for wildlife food. Contributing Editor Laura Erickson suggests buying peanuts at the grocery store and corn labeled for livestock or pets to ensure the food is safe for birds.

Jelly, marmalade, and crushed grapes are good for attracting orioles, catbirds, and other birds. Erickson offers jelly in small servings to prevent birds from overeating or getting stuck. Learn more about feeding birds jelly here.

Suet attracts woodpeckers, chickadees, wrens, and other insect-eating birds. Suet cakes made from rendered suet do not spoil in warmer weather and are often blended with other ingredients for birds.

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For hummingbirds, you can mix cane or beet sugar with water (about one-fourth cup of sugar per cup of water) or purchase prepared nectar mixtures. If you go the prepared route, make sure it is clear as food coloring is harmful to the birds.

Get more bird-feeding shopping tips here.

What should you avoid feeding birds?

According to the Humane Society of the United States, several items humans should not feed birds include bread, chocolate, and table scraps.

Bread, while popular, doesn’t offer any nutritional value to birds. It can also harm birds if it is moldy.

Like dogs and cats, the theobromine in chocolate is toxic for birds.

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Table scraps may not be safe or healthy for birds to consume, and they can also attract mice, rats, and other unwanted wildlife to your yard.

Do you have to feed birds every day?

No, you don’t have to feed birds every day. While there have been concerns about birds forming a reliance on bird feeders, especially during winter, researchers from Oregon State University recently found that is not the case.

The study looked at 67 tagged Black-capped Chickadees subjected to different levels of flight-feather clipping (heavy, light, and none), and the team monitored their visits to feeders. Researchers found that the feather-clipped birds decreased their visits to the feeders — possibly to reduce exposure to predation — for a few weeks. After that, they started visiting the feeders at similar rates as the non-clipped birds.

The reduced use of feeders allowed the researchers to hypothesize that the birds found other food sources and were not reliant on what humans provided.

What are the best types of bird feeders?

The best types of bird feeders to use depend on the species of birds you are looking to attract to your yard. According to a 2014 study published in Wildlife Society Bulletin, larger-bodied birds and birds that feed on the ground are most attracted to platform and hopper feeders, and small-bodied birds like tube or platform feeders best.

Hopper-style feeders consist of two glass sides held in a frame with a removable top to load seed. Platform feeders are very simple and consist of a platform with seed, a roof to keep the food dry, and a screen for drainage. The basic form of a tube feeder consists of a clear cylinder with several tiers of portholes to dispense seed. Learn more here.

In addition to putting a feeder out in the yard, you can attach a suction cup feeder to windows, which will allow you to enjoy birds up close. There is also the belief that suction cup feeders may reduce deadly window collisions because they are closer to the windows, so birds leaving the feeder won’t be going fast enough to injure themselves if they have to leave abruptly. 

Do bird feeders attract mice and squirrels?

Keeping bird feeders stocked may attract mice, squirrels, and other animals. That said, there are a few things you can do to keep the risk of rodents to a minimum. First, do not spread seed on the ground or other open areas for sparrows and other ground-feeding birds. Second, purchase a caged feeder that will allow small birds to eat peacefully and away from larger animals.

 

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