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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

"How to attract Chikadees to your yard" Guest post by Mac Pike

Do you want to attract a California condor to your yard? I wish you all good fortune, it isn't going to happen. But if you want to provide a home base for a tiny, adorable, acrobatic and downright friendly little bird like the black capped chickadee, all you need to do is live within its natural range and practice a few very simple arts. Do so, and you will literally have chickadees eating out of your hand.

The common black capped chickadee, or Poecile atricapillus is a small songbird related to the tufted titmouse and other tits; this becomes apparent when you observe them interacting at a feeding station; their behaviors are very similar. A curious, black, white and buff colored bird the chickadee is 75% tame as regards human interactions, even in its wildest conditions.

To attract chickadees to your yard, all you need do is put up a feeding station, preferably at least 8 feet off the ground, and close (within 20 feet) of brush or trees in which the chickadee can perch. This placement is a kindness, because a chickadee will rarely stay on a feeding station to eat. More often than not a chickadee will take the seed to a nearby tree or shrubs so that it can break up the seed in relative solitude, by placing the feeder close to cover you can help the chickadee avoid burning excess energy flying back and forth from food source to cover.

Providing a bird bath or other source of water during dry periods is also a nice thing to do, and will increase the population of all birds in your yard, the chickadee not excepted. Most important, to draw chickadees make sure that sunflower seeds are a component of your feeding station mix. Chickadees love them and will linger wherever they can find them.

Would you like to have this friendly, trusting bird eating literally from your hand? Well, you can. It requires no magic or arcane knowledge; it merely requires a little patience. Begin by placing sunflower seeds on your feeder at exactly the same time each day, for the sake of discussion, ten AM. Be consistent with this. You will notice that chickadees begin to show up almost immediately after you put the seed out.

Once the birds are coming consistently at the same time, stand by the feeder after you have placed the seeds on it. Stay there for about 15 minutes, standing as quietly and calmly as you can. When chickadees begin to land on the feeder when you are standing by it (takes about 4 to 5 days) you are ready for the next step.

Stand by the feeder, but put no seed on it. Place the seed instead in your outstretched hand. (You may wish to brace it on the feeder or if the feeder is too high, on a shovel handle or the like, you muscles will begin to cramp quickly if you do not.)

Wait about 10 minutes, and then put the seed on the feeder and move away. Repeat this every day, staying for a few more minutes each day. Within 3 or 4 days you will have a tiny bird landing in your hand, seizing a seed and fluttering away. They will rapidly learn to trust you, and of course you will be careful not to betray that trust.

And that, is really all you need to know to attract and befriend the black capped chickadee!

Thanks so much, Mac! If you want to learn straight from the master, go to Mac Pike's about me page at Helium.

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