Tales from My Window Bird Feeder

A Red-Breasted Nuthatch snatching a seed from my Window Bird Feeder

A Red-Breasted Nuthatch snatching a seed from my Window Bird Feeder

My window has turned into a very popular spot for all kinds of birds.  I had no idea that so many birds lived so close to me.  It has been, and continues to be, a really educational experience and a lot of fun.  On this page, you will find “Tales” from my window bird feeder, along with photos and videos.

Black-Capped Chickadees: Always the First to Find a New Feeder

Black-Capped Chickadee at my Window Bird Feeder

Black-Capped Chickadee at my Window Bird Feeder

If you have ever had a bird feeder, you probably are familiar with the Chickadee.  I remember them from when I was a child and my parents had a bird feeder. They are a small and curious bird, which usually makes them the first ones to find a new feeder.

Here, in Western Washington State (near Tacoma) we have two kinds of Chickadees: Black-capped Chickadees and Chestnut-Backed Chickadees.  They both have black chins and black caps, but the Chestnut-backed ones have a russet or brown colored back.

Chickadees are named for their “DEE DEE DEE” song, although if you listen closely, you’ll hear them make other sounds too.  They do a loud warning call when there is a predator like a hawk nearby, and all the birds will listen to the Chickadee and take their cue from them.

Unlike Finches, who will hog the feeder for a long time, Chickadees usually take a seed and bring it with them away from the feeder before eating.  Then, usually while standing in a shrub, they hold the seed against the branch with their feet and hammer at it with their beak.  They also sometimes hide the seeds for later use.  I’ve read that they can remember 100 different hiding locations!  (People should reconsider the term “bird brain!”  It might turn out to be a complement.)

Black-Capped Chickadee with Caterpillar

Black-Capped Chickadee with Caterpillar for its Babies

Chickadees eat spiders and insects too.  We actually noticed a decrease in spiders when we had a chickadee family living in our birdhouse.

And when they are raising their young, they feed them lots of caterpillars.  Last year, we had the very good fortunate to have the Chickadees nest in a bird house near our window.  If you put up bird houses near the window, you might get to see these Chickadees build a nest and be really devoted parents.   It’s amazing how much energy they put into feeding their babies.  It’s constant to and fro.

Want to encourage Chickadees to nest?  Put up a birdhouse like this Bluebird house.  Yes, Chickadees are happy to live in bluebird houses!

Red-Breasted Nuthatches are Speedy and So Cute

Red-breasted Nuthatch at my Window Bird Feeder
Look!  It’s a bird!

Oh. It’s gone already.

Must have been a Nuthatch.

That’s how quick they are.

Red-breasted Nuthatches are as small as a Chickadee (or smaller) with a longer beak that allows them more reach to get food.  They love sunflower seeds and peanuts.  If you happen to be outside near them, they probably won’t mind. They’ve not very afraid.  And if you listen, they are usually making a very quiet sound, as if they are talking to themselves.

They’ve also really acrobatic, often choosing to hang upside down for a moment or two.  I love these little birds and if you get a chance to see them, you’ll probably fall in love too.

Red-Breasted Nuthatch on Suet Feeder

Nuthatches Enjoy Suet Too

The House Finches Find My Window Bird Feeder – And Visit EVERY Day!

House Finches at my Window Bird Feeder

House Finches will stay at the window bird feeder for a long time.

Once the house finches found my window bird feeder, they continued to visit every day, rain or shine, winter or summer.

I’ve read that House Finches are a very common visitor to backyard bird feeders.  Their range is almost the entire United States (both east and west coasts –  the central plains is about the only place where you won’t find them).

I’ve also read that House Finches fly in large flocks of a hundred or more, but the flocks that arrive at my feeder are only about 15 strong, at the most, which is probably good because they FIGHT.  In fact, they fight so much that we sometimes alliteratively call them the “Fighting Finches.”  They peck each other with their beaks.  They are very territorial and don’t like being too close to each other.  I guess they never learned about sharing!

They also hog the feeder.  They will sit on the feeder all morning if they don’t get scared off.  Initially, they would get scared when we opened the window blinds, but now they aren’t as nervous.  I saw one review that complained that the birds flew away from the window when they saw movement inside the house. I would suggest that they just give it some time.  I’ve noticed that as birds become accustomed to a feeder, they become less timid with time. Now sometimes they don’t even fly away when I’m outside next to the feeder.

Male House Finch

House Finch Waiting for a Chance at the Feeder

House Finches are also noisy.   They have a beautiful, elaborate song that they sing in the Spring, but during the rest of the year, they’re yappy.  They remind me of Chihuahuas.

They like lots of seeds, but I mostly feed them black oil sunflower seeds.  An interesting fact about House Finches is that they’re vegetarians.  They rely completely on eating seeds and other plant material.  This sets them apart from the Chickadees, who eat a substantial amount of spiders and bugs.

House Finches have been known to nest near houses.  This family had them nest in a wreathe and documented it with photos and videos.   I’ve yet to see them nest, but I do really enjoy watching the whole courtship ritual in the Springtime.  Did I mention their beautiful song?  Once I even saw the male bird feed the female bird.  (It’s like when humans feed their spouses cakes on their wedding day!  I guess we share some of the rituals!)

Unfortunately, House Finches do have some diseases and infections  (Avian Conjunctivitis and Avian Pox) that I’ve gotten to observe up-close when they’re on the window bird feeder.  Blindness in one eye and feet deformities are pretty common.  Occasionally, there will be one that sits at the feeder for a long period of time and you can just tell that they’re not doing well.

Another similar bird is the Purple Finch.  I don’t think I’ve seen a Purple Finch, but sometimes I check the identification points to make sure I’m IDing correctly.  House Finches are impossible to identify by color alone because sometimes they are bright red and other times more orange.  Like most birds, it’s the males that wear all of the colors. The female house finch is mostly gray colored.

A Hungry Stellar Jay Gets Some Seeds from my Window Bird Feeder

I love Stellar Jays, but up until recently, I only would see them very occasionally.

Stellar Jay at my Window Bird Feeder (silhouette image)

This Stellar Jay is too big for this feeder!

One day this stellar jay decided that he could get some sunflower seeds out of my feeder.  I think this photo is a good testament to the build quality and strength of this bird feeder.  Actually, I’ve had two Red-Winged Blackbirds visit it at once and the feeder survived that too.

This Stellar Jay really looked funny at my window feeder.  He pockets the seeds in his mouth/throat and then goes off to hide or eat them.  They have a great memory and can remember lots of hiding places. I think the crows watch where they hide the food and then I imagine that the crows sometimes eat it when the Stellar Jays aren’t looking.  I’ve spent a lot of time watching Stellar Jays (I give them whole in-shell peanuts which they love).  Stellar Jays are very clever. They will hide the peanuts in a temporary location and then move them later to a better hiding spot.

By the way, Stellar Jays are related to Blue Jays, and many people here call them Blue Jays, but Stellar Jays have a black crown which sets them apart from their Eastern counterparts.

Stellar Jay with a Peanut

Stellar Jay with a Peanut – Does he look like his silhouette? (see above photo)

A Young Squirrel Tries to get to my Window Bird Feeder

Squirrel on Window Screen, Trying to get to Bird Feeder

Squirrel Attempts to get to my bird feeder by climbing on the window screen

I have to tell you the truth.

A window bird feeder attracts other animals, for example, this squirrel.  He figured out that the seed shells on the ground were coming from the feeder up above.  He tried, repeatedly, to reach my feeder.  He failed every time. He could not make the reach.  He would jump and then fall to the ground every time. What a brave and acrobatic squirrel he was!

Yes, he tore up the screen and even peed on the window.  But I will put up with a lot, apparently, if it means I can live so close to birds.

 

 

Pine Siskins at my Window Bird Feeder

Pine Siskin at my Window Bird Feeder

Pine Siskin at my Window Bird Feeder, photo taken through the window

If you see a small bird with lots of stripes and a little yellow on its wings, it might be a Pine Siskin.  They are small birds that flock to feeders.  They’re not as noisy as House Finches.  Their tails are shorter and their beaks are longer.

 

Red-Winged Blackbirds Like Food Too
blackbird-window-bird-feeder

Do you like Red-Winged Blackbirds?  They have a pretty song and the males’ red wings are beautiful.  They fly very elegantly as they glide down to attack your bird feeder.  Oh, I said attack, didn’t I?  Well I guess that shows my negative opinion.

I wasn’t always so jaded, but when you have 15 blackbirds swoop down at your feeder and eat up all of your suet and throw the seeds on the ground, it’s hard to be the tolerant kind-hearted birdwatcher that I usually am.

Well, the good news is that we switched seeds from a general mix to just black oil sunflower seed. This has helped.  The blackbirds will eat the sunflower seeds, but they don’t like them as much as the millet.  Some people say that they can’t crack open the sunflower seeds with their beaks, but it looks like some of them can.  So using 100% sunflower seed might not solve the issue completely, but we have definitely found it helpful.

The good news is that my window bird feeder has a plastic roof that overhangs to protect it from the rain.  These overhangs also make it difficult for larger birds.  The blackbirds don’t stay long and I’ve never had Starlings bother with the window feeder.

Red-Winged Blackbirds at my Other Feeders on a Snowy Winter Day

Red-Winged Blackbirds at my Other Feeders

 

Here is a Video of Birds at my Window Feeder

Which Window Bird Feeder is the Best one to buy?Aspects155 Window Cafe Window Mount Bird Feeder Holds Variety of Seeds & Blends

Good question.  I bought the Aspects155 Window Cafe Bird Feeder for about $20 on Amazon.  I read lots of reviews and found one person who had compared this feeder against two others and they found that this is the one that their birds likes the best.

Since it’s the only window feeder that I’ve ever owned, I can’t really compare it to other ones.  But, here’s the good things I can say about it:

  • Long-Lasting.  I’ve owned it for 1 year and 9 months.  The quality is still as-new.  No broken parts and no problems!  Still holds onto the window very well.
  • Easy to fill.  The bottom piece slides off, so you don’t have to remove the part with the suction cups in order to refill it.
  • The Shape & Size is Perfect for Small Birds.  And larger ones have a difficult time with it.  In addition to all of the species that I mentioned already, I should add that we’ve also had American Goldfinches and an occasional Oregon Dark-Eyed Junco.  However, the Juncos prefer the ground and they often eat under the feeder.  Invariably, some of the seeds fall onto the ground.  Sometimes it seems like the Nuthatch will purposely toss a couple of seeds on the ground.  I’ve seen him get them off of the ground too while the feeder is occupied.  Also we had a Black-Headed Grosbeak eat one time at the winder feeder, but he’s really too big. He prefers our hanging platform feeder.

I would say it’s the best $20 I’ve spent on entertainment in years, except that I have to refill it frequently, so there is the ongoing expense of buying seeds.  But it is fun and I feel good about helping the little birds.

How often will I have to refill it?

Ah, this depends on how hungry your birds are!  During the busiest time of the year (Fall and Winter), I have to refill this about every other day.  However, I am using Black-oil Sunflower Seeds, which take up quite a bit of volume for their weight. If you use the smaller seeds like millet, you might be able to go a whole week between refills.

What are the best type of seeds to put in my window bird feeder?Black Oil Sunflower Seeds

From what I’ve read, the general consensus is to use Black-oil Sunflower Seeds because all of the small song birds like them and some of the larger birds don’t.  You could also use peanut pieces, which Chickadees and Nuthatches love too.  A mix of seeds is fine too, and may attract a wider range of birds.  You might have to do a little experimenting to see what works well for you.  Since this window feeder has a tray on it, you can really put any kind of seed or nut in it.  Once I put shredded carrots in it, because I thought my finches would eat that, but I was very wrong.  They want seeds, not veggies!

Where should I put my window bird feeder?

This shows the location of my window bird feeder.

You can see my window bird feeder in this photo (on the right side)

You should put it where you want to watch them, of course!

Will they come?  You might be surprised.

I live in an Urban area and my window bird feeder is right next to my shed, patio, and carport.  This doesn’t seem to be a problem for the birds.  In fact, it seems that they like the shelter.

If you have problems attracting birds, you can try putting up another bird feeder somewhere else in your yard, perhaps in a location closer to the trees or the shrubs.  Once you get the birds to your backyard (or front yard), they will be closer and will naturally explore the area.  Then they will likely stumble upon your window feeder.  If you don’t have any trees, you can still install a bird feeder pole.  Don’t give up!  Keep the bird seed fresh and try different locations.

My Birdfeeder has also attracted the neighborhood cat.

My Birdfeeder has also attracted the neighborhood cat.  I don’t mind because I love cats too, and so far, the birds seem to be able to get away.

Have you ever had a window bird feeder, and if so, was it a success?

I hope you’ll take a few moments to tell us about your backyard birding experience.  Whether you’re just curious about this, or have been watching birds at your window for years, I’m sure you have something to add to the discussion.

 

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