Time to get the birds fed for the Winter. Will give you warm weather fishermen something to do other than whine all Winter about the cold weather. LOL. Just kidding guys. It is a fun activity to share with kids or grandkids and see how many different species of birds you can get at your feeders. Have fun. OHIO OUTDOOR NOTEBOOK By Laura Jones, Ohio Department of Natural Resources Fall/Winter 2004 Choose a bird feeder this winter that is rewarding both for you and your feathered guests Winter weather chases many of Ohios songbirds south, yet several species not only stick around during the cold months, they are joined by a variety of new feathered faces. Invite some fun and brighten your landscape this season by adding a bird feeder to your backyard. Backyard bird feeding is a popular pastime in the Buckeye State, and feeders of every shape and size can be found on the market today. In fact, some first-time feeder buyers might find making a selection a little overwhelming. To help simplify the decision, keep in mind that there are really only three basic types of feeders: the hopper, tube and platform. Additionally, each of these feeders along with the seed you use attracts different bird species. Also, birding experts suggest that the ideal bird feeder is one thats sturdy enough to withstand harsh winter weather, seals out moisture to keep seed dry, and is large enough that you dont have to be out refilling it every day. Hopper feeders are the most common and widely recognizable feeders. Often resembling a barn or gazebo-like structure, they feature a lift-off roof for easy filling and traditionally hold lots of seed. Depending on the seed you choose, birds of every size and type will visit this feeder: blue jays, northern cardinals, mourning doves, tufted titmice and even downy woodpeckers. It also includes some birds that are considered nuisance species, such as grackles, starlings and sparrows. Hopper feeders are frequently suspended from tree branches or mounted on sturdy poles. Finches and some of Ohios small woodland birds, such as chickadees, titmice and nuthatches are common visitors to cylinder-shaped tube feeders. Most of these feature six to eight opposing perches that are positioned beside portals from which birds extract seeds. Additionally, the small perches found on these feeders discourage larger birds, such as grackles and doves as well as seed-robbing squirrels. Tube feeders can be hung from a tree limb or pole. Get an unobstructed view of your feathered visitors with a tray feeder, which can be suspended from a tree branch or pole, or placed on the ground with fold-out legs. Cardinals, jays, woodpeckers, cedar waxwings and many other birds readily accept the open, shallow design and wrap-around ledges of a tray feeder. Trays placed low to the ground are beneficial to ground-feeding birds such as dark-eyed juncos, towhees and sparrows. Ring the dinner bell with an assortment of food staples, such as dried fruit, nuts, a variety of seeds and chopped suet then watch as a wide array of birds flock to the feast. Suet, placed in a small wire or plastic mesh cage, is another feeder alternative. These fat cakes offer birds a tasty, high-energy treat, which is particularly helpful in the winter. To discourage less desirable guests from devouring the suet, choose a feeder that offers the food from the bottom. Woodpeckers and nuthatches will have no trouble hanging upside down to feed, but neighborhood raccoons, cats and starlings are easily defeated by this approach. If you still arent sure about which feeder to buy, have some fun and make your own. Kids especially love to create homemade feeding stations, then watch as the birds enjoy their efforts. Pinecones smeared with peanut butter and rolled in seed are a perennial favorite among many types of birds. Two-liter soda bottles, milk jugs and laundry detergent bottles can all be recycled into feeding stations by cutting a large feeding hole in the side. After securing your recycled feeder to a branch or pole fill it with seed. A large number of household objects can be converted into feeders use your imagination! Tip: Birds use feedings stations as supplements to their natural diet especially when deep snow or ice covers the ground. But dont get caught up in the myth that wild birds cannot survive without your generosity. After all, they were successfully surviving winter weather well before the first pilgrim ever scattered a fistful of cracked corn on Plymouth Rock. Some additional suggestions: Use wire or chain-link when hanging feeders from tree branches, because squirrels will chew through cotton or nylon rope. To prevent the wire from cutting into the bark, first wrap heavy duty foam or a split section of garden hose around the tree branch. Squirrels are tremendous leapers. Foil their attempts by placing feeders at least 15-20 feet away from the house and trees. Select a feeder thats easy to assemble and clean. Seed can become moldy, causing birds to get sick or pass disease on to other birds. Wooden feeders should be made of weather-resistant cedar or stained to protect against moisture. Always fill your feeders with good quality seed. If you enjoyed the sights and sounds of summer songbirds, then be more than a fair-weather fan. Add a bird feeder to your yard this winter, then sit back and watch for flocking finches, chattering chickadee and others, as they gather together for your wildlife watching pleasure.