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Please send your questions regarding feeders and feed to feed@birdzilla.com. We'll answer as many as we can and post selected answers here.

Q. What is the best seed to feed?
WR - Athens, GA

A. This depends on the species. Finches are especially fond of Nyjer® and cardinals are partial to safflower. Black-oil sunflower, however, is probably the best all-around single choice.

Q. Which is better, a hopper feeder or a tube feeder?
RS - Mobile, AL

A. One is not necessarily better than the other. Hopper feeders, because of their ease of access to the seed, tend to attract a larger variety of birds, at least in my backyard. This sometimes include grackles, which can wipe out a supply of seed in a hurry. Tube feeders tend to discourage larger species. If grackles are a problem try using a tube feeder, maybe even shortening the perch. This will often leave the tube feeder available for finches, nuthatches and other smaller species.

Carla Davis, better known as the "The Wild Bird Lady", is a member of the board of directors of the National Bird-Feeding Society. The National Bird-Feeding Society is dedicated to providing information on the care and feeding of wild birds as well as information on creating bird-friendly habitat.

Thanks to Carla and her expert friends for providing answers to the many questions submitted.

Q. How do I control the squirrels? They are eating me out of house and home.
TJ - Plano, TX

A. This can be one of the biggest challenges those that feed birds will face. Squirrels are clever, strong and aggressive at trying to reach a nice supply of sunflower seed.

Locating your feeder 8 feet from the nearest tree or launch point will stop the attacks from the side and above.

If your feeder is pole mounted you can install a commercial barrier that will prevent the squirrels from reaching the feeder.

There are also barriers that can be installed above feeders that have been hung from a tree limb.

Some tube feeders are available with a wire screen to protect the feeder ports. The mesh size is large enough for the birds to pass through but too small for the squirrels.

Other feeders have a system that uses the weight of the squirrel to close down the feeding station when a squirrel lands on the feeder.

Some super squirrels seem to be able to defeat almost any system. You might have your best luck by taking the tact that if you can't beat them, enjoy them. Offering corn at a feeding station away from the bird feeders will often keep them well feed and away from the bird feeders.

Q. How do I keep house sparrows and starlings from eating all of the sunflower seed?
WR - Athens, GA

A. Try offering other food sources. Suet is very popular with woodpeckers, nuthatches, wrens and many other species. House sparrows are not as attracted to suet as many other species.

Starlings can sometimes try to take over a suet feeder. If this happens there are several brands of upside down suet feeders. The starlings will struggle to use the upside down feeder but nuthatches, chickadees and others will not find this a problem at all.

Offering Nyjer® in a seed sock does a good job of attracting goldfinches but pretty well eliminates starlings and house sparrows.


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