Bird Feeder in Queens NYC–Repelling English Sparrows and Squirrels

This fall we put a lot of effort into building a bird-feeding station in our front yard. This was motivated by our renovation of the garden and our memories of birds feeders in our previous houses.

We started off with this feeder (Nature’s Way CWF28 Cedar 3 quart Hopper Bird Feeder with Suet). This worked great, but two problems quickly appeared:

  • Squirrels
  • English Sparrows

 

Squirrels rapidly ate all the food, and scared birds away.  English Sparrows mobbed the feeder and repelled other birds. (See here for further discussion.)

It took us a while to figure out how to handle the squirrels and the sparrows. We started off by adding anti-pigeon spikes to the roof of the feeder, and next making an assembly by which we could dangle wires around the perimeter of the feed, as per U.S. Patent No. 5,295,455.   Here is the result–the red line points to one of the dangling wires.

 

 

That feeded worked pretty well. The wires repelled the English Sparrows very well, but only discouraged other birds mildly. The squirrel, on the other hand, persisted, so we gave up on this design. It was ugly, heavy, and only partially effective.

Our second solution was to buy a feeder that closes itself if the animal on it is too heavy. We picked the Brome 1052 Squirrel Buster Peanut Plus. That seems to be impervious to squirrels. It does have perches, which the English Sparrows can and do use.

We got two feeders that we fill with seeds that English Sparrows seem not to like:

  1. GrayBunny GB-6857 Premium Steel Sunflower Seed Feeder and Peanut Feeder–we fill it with safflower seeds, and have a large dome on top of it to keep squirrels away. It does not have perches, so English Sparrows don’t use it. House Finches love it.
  2. Bird Quest SBF2Y 17″ Spiral Thistle Bird Feeder–we fill it with Nyjer(TM) thistle. This feeder didn’t work at all for House Finches until we drilled out the feeding holes to a diameter of 0.21″ = 7/32″

The next challenge is to attract woodpeckers. We have seen them in our dogwood tree. But so have none have been seen on this feeder: Nature’s Way Bird Products CWF2 Cedar Suet Upside-Down Bird Feeder.

We feed English Sparrows, pigeons, and mourning dove like so: House Finches, when they feed on safflower, knock seeds to the ground. That’s what the other birds can eat. Safflower seed costs about $1/pound, and we are not going through it too fast.