Throughout New Hampshire, and indeed most parts of the United States, it’s possible for the backyard bird watcher to attract and view a good assortment of different bird species. Providing a variety of bird food and feeder types, is one of the best ways to bring birds not only to your back yard, but to specific locations where you can easily watch them from either a window or your favorite porch swing.
Different species of birds have different dietary preferences, birds that are primarily insect eaters, like woodpeckers and nuthatches, will be attracted to suet feeders. Most grocery and pet stores carry very inexpensive suet cage feeders. These square wire feeders are designed to hold blocks of pre-packaged suet. The cage also provides a secure foothold for birds that are used to walking up and down tree trunks in search of bugs.
Thistle Seed Bird Feeders
A thistle seed feeder will attract many small active New England birds such as goldfinches, redpolls, juncos, and chickadees, especially during the winter. Thistle or nyjer seed feeders have small openings that allow the birds to withdraw the tiny seeds one by one. Thistle feeders may be tubular plastic feeders with perches or a wire framework to which the birds can cling as they wrestle the seeds out. Another type of thistle feeder is the thistle sock. This is a mesh bag that the birds grab onto while they pull out seeds. These are designed to be disposable when they run out of seeds. Often a group of goldfinches will crawl all around the feeder like swarming ants.
Mixed Birdseed Feeders
Mixed bird seed feeders attract a wide variety of birds. The chickadee, tufted titmouse, bunting and grosbeak species are common mixed seed feeders in New Hampshire. They will perch on the feeder to eat, sometimes taking seeds to nearby tree branches to eat and making repeated trips back and forth to the feeder.
Platform Bird Feeders
Some birds prefer open platform feeders. Cardinals seem to prefer to stand on a broad flat surface to eat, and they prefer sunflower seeds. Platform feeders can be mounted on a pole. Some have a cover to keep rain and snow off the feeding platform, but all should have drainage holes in the seed platform to prevent accumulation of water.
Some birds are generalists and will eat just about any bird food that you put out for them. Chickadees and blue jays fit into his category. While they may prefer mixed seed, I often see both of these species taking suet, thistle, and sunflower seeds as well.
Unwanted Bird Feeders Visitors
In New Hampshire, unfortunately, bears and squirrels also tend to be generalists and may come after your bird feeders as well. To prevent bear visits, don’t put out bird food during the summer months when bears are active. Most birds can find plenty of food when there’s no snow on the ground anyway.
Squirrels, on the other hand, don’t hibernate and will keep working at your bird feeders until there is no seed left. They’ll work for days to defeat any squirrel-proof measures that your bird-feeder contains.