published Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

Roberts: Birding ideas that are flops


by Dalton Roberts

When you start backyard birding, you will try a lot of ideas from the "experts" that won't work for you. Just quickly get rid of anything that doesn't work. Don't keep them around to aggravate you as I have done.

I saw a "select-a-bird" feeder advertised that said only cardinals could eat from it. It had a little weight on an arm that opened access to the seeds for cardinals only. It closed for all other birds of all other weights.

The ad said the weighted arm was set for a cardinal -- 8 ounces, I believe it was. I left that thing up for years, waiting for cardinals to discover they had an exclusive feeder. I never saw one get near it. I think I would have played "Dixie" and threw sand in the air if one had just landed on it.

I would change the seeds regularly knowing that if one ever tried it, only fresh seeds would bring him back. After wasting no telling how many gallons of seeds, I finally chunked it in the garbage.

If you buy a select-a-bird feeder and set the weight for cardinals and they swarm it, please don't tell me. I may not attack you, but I know I will become violent with someone. Being slightly inclined to masochism, I will probably just slam my fist into a pine tree.

The next biggest super fizzle of my birding career was a molded plastic bluebird house. It's cute as it can be, with a little molded plastic cap on top. It's also as useful as breasts on a brass monkey.

It cost over 40 bucks, so I have kept it out for 10 years. I wrote Audubon Workshop and asked if any other customers had commented on how useless it is, and they said their records showed no complaints. That convinced me that I am not their only complacent customer.

This year I did see a bluebird go in it for the first time ever, and it immediately came out and frantically flew away. Which made me think there may be a cat ghost in it.

An "expert" wrote that bluebirds are the only birds who will go inside a bird kitchen to dine, so I bought one that has four bluebird entry holes. I have put mealworms, bluebird pellets and dehydrated mealworms in it and have never seen one bluebird go inside.

Every time I put mealworms out for bluebirds, the mockers get most of them. They are the bullies of the bird kingdom. So I scream out to the bluebirds, "Go inside the box I bought for you!" But not a single one has ever entered. If your bluebirds go inside, please don't tell me. My blood pressure has always been "high normal," and it would put me in stroke range. If I can't get bluebirds to dine inside, I don't want anyone else to be able to do it. It's just one side of my unselfish nature.

Another thing that was a miserable disappointment was a peanuts-in-the-shell feeder. It just drew bluejays and crows who ate my bluebird eggs and babies.

If 90 percent of my birding products and ideas didn't work, I couldn't tolerate the ideas and products that don't work. Still, I stay just moments away from homicide. All for the love of my birds.

Email Dalton Roberts at DownhomeP@aol.com.

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