My feeder set-up sounds more modest than some of the ones people are describing. I am too miserly to put out the quantities some people do! I buy one of the big sacks of black-oil sunflower every month or so--the ones that fill up a shopping cart. Then I get a case of suet once every few months, and put out just one suet cake at a time. However, I also buy "bird seed" quite often, usually in smaller quantities, and mix it in. My elementary pupils often give me a gift of "bird seed" at Xmas or at the end of the school year, too.
Red-winged Blackbirds consume a large fraction of the seed, but juncoes eat a lot, too. I never see sunflower or "bird seed" go to waste, with one exception. That wasted seed is limited to the "red millet" that makes up a varying but usually small percentage of cheap bird seed mixes. At my feeders at least, white millet is eagerly devoured by Red-winged Blackbirds, juncoes, House Sparrows, Zonotrichias, Song Sparrows, Spotted Towhees, and Eurasian Collared Doves. Sometimes a swarm of Brewer's Blackbirds will come in and eat millet and sunflower, too. In spring and summer, Black-headed Grosbeaks and American Goldfinches come. They do eat mostly sunflower. I put out nyjer sometimes, but unfortunately, the Red-winged Blackbirds have learned to like it. A flock of twenty to forty or more RWBL can eat a lot of expensive "finch seed" in a hurry, so I don't always put it out.
I recently visited Skagit Wild Bird Supply on Memorial Highway, out of Mount Vernon. To tell the truth, I was just there to check for goldfinches, but I usually buy something when I stop there. They sell various mixtures that have millet in them, and those mixtures always go in a hurry when I put them out for the birds. They are eating it at my feeder this week. In my experience feeding here, as well as in California, in New York, and at my parents' old place in Florida, millet is good, but it might not be the best feed in situations where the birds are mostly Pacific Northwest forest species, rather than birds of more open country.
Species that have come to my feeders at my present home in Skagit County have included Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Common Redpoll, Cassin's Finch, White-throated Sparrow, and California Scrub Jay; at my old place, American Tree Sparrow and Harris's Sparrow came and fed on the same provender--so I would say that sunflower mixed with millet is not a bad way to go!
Even the red millet does not go entirely to waste at my place; my ducks and chickens are always there to gobble up whatever the wild birds drop on the ground.
From: ck park <travelgirl.fics...>
To: Wally Davis <wallydavis3...>
Cc: Tweeters <tweeters...>
Sent: Thursday, March 2, 2017 6:06 PM
Subject: Re: [Tweeters] Birdseed
Can't speak for everyone, but "birdseed" as sold in a lot of places around here is millet, and I can't think of any birds in the northwet that are remotely interested in the stuff. Sunflower, suet, black niger, peanuts, fresh fruit, they love the stuff. Millet? not so much...
george davis creek, north fork
On Thu, Mar 2, 2017 at 4:10 PM, Wally Davis <wallydavis3...> wrote:
I run through about 10 lbs of sunflower seeds a week and a cake of suet a day. The sunflowers caused me to build a feeder that holds 5 gallons of seed and I hang out 6 blocks of suet at a time. Mostly chickadees, towhees, Steller’s jays, and 5 species of woodpeckers. This year I thought I’d try birdseed and bought a feeder that hold about a pint. The birds are largely uninterested and it takes almost 2 months to empty the pint of birdseed. I live in a rural area with cedar woodlands and open areas consisting of brush as well as my yard. I was wondering if anyone else has observed that birdseed isn’t eaten? Wally DavisSnohomish
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