Bird Study – Feeding Birds

Much can be done to bring birds about the home or the schoolhouse by placing food where they can readily get it. The majority of land birds that pass the winter in Canada or in the colder parts of the United States feed mainly upon seeds. Cracked corn, wheat, rice, sunflower seed, hemp seed, and bird seed, purchased readily in any town, are, therefore, exceedingly attractive articles of diet. Bread crumbs are enjoyed by many species. Food should not be thrown out on the snow unless there is a crust on it or the snow has been well trampled down.

Usually it should be placed on boards. Various feeding plans have been devised to prevent the food from being covered or washed away by snow or rain. Detailed explanations of these can be found in Bulletin No. I, “Attracting Birds About the Home,” issued by the National Association of Audubon Societies. Suet wired to the limb of a tree on the lawn will give comfort and nourishment to many a Chickadee, Nuthatch and Downy Woodpecker. To make a bird sanctuary nesting sites and food are the first requirements. There appears to be no reason why town and city parks should not be made into places of great attraction for the wild birds.

Community Sanctuaries.—At Meriden, New Hampshire, there is a tract of land containing thirty-two acres of fields and woods, dedicated to the comfort and happiness of wild birds. It is owned by the Meriden Bird Club, and owes its existence largely to the intelligence and enthusiasm of Ernest H. Baynes, bird-lover and lecturer, who lives there. The entire community takes an interest in its maintenance, and there birds are fed and nesting places provided. It is in the widest sense a “community sanctuary.” There are now a number of these coöperative bird havens established and cared for in practically the same way. One is in Cincinnati, another in Ithaca, New York, and still another at Greenwich, Connecticut.

Birderaft Sanctuary.—The best equipped of this class of community bird refuges, as distinguished from private estates, or Audubon Society, State, or Federal bird reservations, is Birdcraft Sanctuary in Fairfield, Connecticut, a tract of ten acres presented to the Connecticut Audubon Society in June, 1914. Mrs. Mabel Osgood Wright, President of the Connecticut Society, has written that in the creation of this sanctuary it was decided that certain requirements were necessary:

“A cat-proof fence to surround the entire place. That it may not look aggressive, it should be set well inside the picturesque old wall. Stone gate-posts and a rustic gate at the entrance on the highway. A bungalow for the caretaker, wherein there shall be a room for the meetings of the Society’s Executive Committee and Board. A tool and work-shop of corresponding style. Several rustic shelters and many seats.

“The assembling of the various springs into a pond, so designed as to make an island of a place where the Redwings nest.

“Trails to be cut through the brush and the turf grass in a charming bit of old orchard on the hill-top, to be restored for the benefit of worm-pulling Robins.

“Several stone basins to be constructed for bird-baths, houses to be put up of all sorts, from Wren boxes, Von Berlepsch model, Flicker and Owl boxes, to a Martin hotel; and, lastly, the supplementing of the natural growth by planting pines, spruces, and hemlocks for windbreaks, and mountain ashes, mulberries, sweet cherries, flowering shrubs and vines for berries and Hummingbird honey.”

Not only were all these things done, but there has been built and equipped a small museum of Natural History, unique in its good taste and usefulness.