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Cabin Fever... and a question
Old 01-22-2015, 08:46 AM   #1
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Cabin Fever... and a question

After many years of snowbirding, we're now settling back to our Illinois home. While we miss the activity of our Florida community, we're more content with a slower lifestyle. Not liking the drive, and realizing that the parties and many activities that we used to be involved in are more than we need... it's more comfortable to live at a slower pace, picking and choosing what we want to do.

But... with that, and now late January, cabin fever is beginning to set in. Can't go to our camp here in IL, and beginning to miss the outdoors.... and thus the question

My neighbor, diagonally behind my house has a bird bath in the summer. Now he uses the base as a "feeder" putting a handful of bird seed on top. All day long he has visitors... mostly tree sparrows but often some transients who got lost.
I am jealous.
Sooo... I set out a small wire stand behind my house, in front of our dining room picture window, with a plate on top, filled with seed. Nothing... The same birds fly across this "feeder" and completely ignore it.
Next... reading that ground feeding may help, scattered seed around... nada... not one bird... but at night, some rabbits. Have also broken up dry bread and crackers and placed them on paper plates.

We don"t have any trees behind the house, but some blue spruce in front of the house that house hundreds of sparrows, and another one about 75 feet away in next door neighbor's yard, which is also busy most of the day.

All spring , summer and fall, I have feeders at my camp. They attract, by count, 28 species of birds. I am not a "birder", but pretty close. This problem of being shunned is causing some angst. Am at the point of putting our artificial Christmas tree up to provide shelter but don't think that will work.

Any suggestions?
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Old 01-22-2015, 08:59 AM   #2
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It may just be a matter of time before one bird 'discovers' your offerings and attracts the others.


I experienced the same thing.


My folks in Santa Fe spread out birdseed and a water dish for the local birds and it is quite the entertainment thru the day - so I decided to do the same thing at home.


But for days no birds - nada.


Then one day a couple of birds stopped in and now the backyard is quite the social gathering for a number of different birds.


Give it some more time.
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Old 01-22-2015, 09:13 AM   #3
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Time, I think it takes a while for them to recognize a new feeder as safe, birds are used to the birdbath it's a safe place so the food is an easy change. We put food out around the first frost, but it may take weeks before the first dinner crowd comes to join. Be persistent and keep the food available.

Other than that a more difficult question to answer do you have the right food for the birds in the area? Some mixes I buy attract a different crowd for dinner(some attract nobody and I have to add different seeds to that mix). I'm no expert, can you check out the type of seed the other fellow is using? Best wishes.

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Old 01-22-2015, 09:23 AM   #4
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I agree with what others have said about taking some time.
You might try experimenting with various seed mixes. Also, hang a few suet feeders around your yard from tree limbs or eaves of the house.

This is something you might be interested in. I've participated for several years.
Great Backyard Bird Count | National Audubon Society Birds
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Old 01-22-2015, 11:37 AM   #5
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We have a lot of activity when we put peanuts out. DH just tosses them out on the deck or puts them on a railing. The bluejays love them and carry them off to eat them and then come back for more. Hanging suet in cages attracts woodpeckers and an occasional nuthatch.

If you buy peanuts make sure they are the unsalted ones, in the shell.

Or you could just watch other people's bird feeders -

Sapsucker Pond at Cornell Univ in Ithaca, NY http://cams.allaboutbirds.org/channe...ederWatch_Cam/
A backyard feeder in Ontario, Canada http://cams.allaboutbirds.org/channe...ederWatch_Cam/
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Old 01-22-2015, 12:20 PM   #6
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It sounds like the stand you've put out is not user-friendly.


A bird bath probably establishes a better foundation. Also, there must be acclimation to the surrounds of the bird bath in neighbor's yard. So your location is not prime. Is it close to bushes or trees where the birds might feel more protected?
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Old 01-22-2015, 12:29 PM   #7
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In addition to giving it time, I've found that having moving water helps get the attention of the birds. It could be as simple as a small birdbath with a pump and a heater/de-icer in the winter. The bird stores sell small, cute pumps made specifically for backyard birdbaths.
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Old 01-22-2015, 02:16 PM   #8
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I hang birdfeeders on wrought iron poles with hooks. I have a suet feeder, thistle seed feeder and one that I put shelled sunflowers in. It takes the birds a week or so to find a feeder. And if a nearby feeder has better food, they will go there.

They do need to feel safe, which is why I have the feeders on poles. I had a cat who stalked the birds, but he could not jump that high. Good luck, hang in there and hopefully the birds will find you soon.

I also have 2 hummingbird feeders that I put up in the warm weather. I keep one partially full in winter, many of the hummers migrate and I only need a small amount of food for the remaining birds.
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Old 01-22-2015, 03:22 PM   #9
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Put a heated waterbird bath, you will become the favorite for the birds. In winter there is not as much water, so a source of liquid water works great to attract the birds. You can get them pretty cheap. Water does not have to be moving, just unfrozen. The birds will also discover your seed, soon you will have a yard full of birds.
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Old 01-22-2015, 05:58 PM   #10
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Also, hang a few suet feeders around your yard from tree limbs or eaves of the house.
I tried a duet feeder once and all I got was more visits from raccoons!

They are strong too, they would rip open the little cages containing the suet. So I stick to seeds...
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Old 01-22-2015, 06:08 PM   #11
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Sorry, I'm more interested in your FL story. I guess as we get older, our desires change.

I have a weather app and almost daily look at the weather in different parts of FL. If I moved there, that would become my permanent home.

But it does strike me that people move down to sun drenched FL with all it's offerings and end up moving back to what they know.
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Old 01-22-2015, 06:32 PM   #12
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Sorry, I'm more interested in your FL story. I guess as we get older, our desires change.

I have a weather app and almost daily look at the weather in different parts of FL. If I moved there, that would become my permanent home.

But it does strike me that people move down to sun drenched FL with all it's offerings and end up moving back to what they know.
We really thought we'd retire in Florida, and spent two years looking at dozens of possibilities. Many excellent communities, and we came very close to buying. Up until recently, we could keep up with the younger people who have moved into our Florida active retirement community. Now, not so much.
The call of family and the comfort, convenience and security of our CCRC here in IL, won out. Plus during three seasons, spending time at our camp on a lake about 1/2 hour from here. As snowbirds we were able to enjoy both north and south. With Florida as a permanent home, we'd miss the seasons, and we don't care for FL from June to September...

As to the birds... Thank you all for the suggestions and the bird psychology analysis. You've given me a project to keep me busy. My DW thanks you too... now she doesn't have to listen to me complain about our greedy neighbor. She is also grateful that she won't have to walk around the yard, flapping her arms, and making bird sounds. We're a good team, and she'd be better at that than I would.

We need a birder thread... Umm... not birder... ornithology.
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Old 01-23-2015, 08:49 AM   #13
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Sorry, I'm more interested in your FL story. I guess as we get older, our desires change.

I have a weather app and almost daily look at the weather in different parts of FL. If I moved there, that would become my permanent home.

But it does strike me that people move down to sun drenched FL with all it's offerings and end up moving back to what they know.
I've known a few people who have done the same thing. My Mom and stepdad bought a house in Florida back around 2002, with the intent of moving there when they retired. In the meantime, they rented it out for a few years, but then once those tenants left, they decided to just let it stay vacant, and go down for regular vacations. In 2011 they both retired, but by that time his mother fell ill, as did my grandmother (Mom's mom). His mother died back in 2012, and I doubt Grandmom is going to make it to see 2016, so I don't know if they'll move down there or not once she passes away.

However, Mom said they're not getting rid of the house here in Maryland. She said that if they moved down there and my stepdad died, she'd be back here in a heartbeat. So, her heart's not really in it.

Incidentally, one set of my Mom and stepdad's neighbors in Florida, who they became pretty good friends with, ended up selling and moving home to Pittsburgh, to be back with the kids, grandkids and such. Last I heard, they regretted the decision afterwards, but still stayed up there.

I have a friend whose parents are from Michigan originally, but are doing the snowbird thing, with a house trailer in Florida. However, they said that once they got too old to start making those yearly odysseys back and forth, they're going to settle back down in Michigan for good, to be closer to the rest of the family.

Oh, as for the birds, we have a feeder, but aren't too religious about keeping it topped off. My neighbor also feeds the birds, more regularly than I do. However, it seems like as soon as we refill the feeder, it doesn't take long before one bird finds out, hollers "BUFFETT!!!" and before you know it we're flocked with them.
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Old 01-23-2015, 09:33 AM   #14
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After many years of snowbirding, we're now settling back to our Illinois home.
I can empathize with your cabin fever. The problem with Illinois in the winter is that it's too cold to enjoy warmer-weather activities, but too warm to support winter activities on a consistent basis.
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Old 01-23-2015, 10:34 AM   #15
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Sorry, I'm more interested in your FL story. I guess as we get older, our desires change.

I have a weather app and almost daily look at the weather in different parts of FL. If I moved there, that would become my permanent home.

But it does strike me that people move down to sun drenched FL with all it's offerings and end up moving back to what they know.

My elderly neighbors did the same thing though it wasn't to Florida. After 3 years of planning and preparing they decided a couple months ago at 87 and 85 they just couldn't take care of the house and moved 60 miles to an independent apartment on site of a nursing home. Well that lasted a month and fortunately the house didn't sell as they just moved back. They said it just wasn't home.


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Old 01-23-2015, 10:48 AM   #16
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My elderly neighbors did the same thing though it wasn't to Florida. After 3 years of planning and preparing they decided a couple months ago at 87 and 85 they just couldn't take care of the house and moved 60 miles to an independent apartment on site of a nursing home. Well that lasted a month and fortunately the house didn't sell as they just moved back. They said it just wasn't home.
I just cannot even imagine trying to take care of a single family home at age 87. I know people do it, but gosh. I do plan to age in place, but haven't thoroughly thought through how I can do this in my late 80's and older. Maybe a superb handyman and landscaping service would make it more feasible.
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Old 01-23-2015, 10:56 AM   #17
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I just cannot even imagine trying to take care of a single family home at age 87. I know people do it, but gosh. I do plan to age in place, but haven't thoroughly thought through how I can do this in my late 80's and older. Maybe a superb handyman and landscaping service would make it more feasible.

They muddle through it, but they do have the resources to have someone pay for cleaning and yard work if they can force themselves to open up the money spigot. But you will love this part, W2R. The meals were all furnished through the nursing home cafeteria. They said they couldn't stand to eat there because there were so many crazy people eating around them and they couldn't figure out who was telling the truth or who was just talking out of their minds. I think that part helped push them back to their home.


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Old 01-23-2015, 11:02 AM   #18
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They muddle through it, but they do have the resources to have someone pay for cleaning and yard work if they can force themselves to open up the money spigot. But you will love this part, W2R. The meals were all furnished through the nursing home cafeteria. They said they couldn't stand to eat there because there were so many crazy people eating around them and they couldn't figure out who was telling the truth or who was just talking out of their minds. I think that part helped push them back to their home.
I'd love to have good, nutritious meals furnished to me like that when I am older. Can't blame them for not wanting to eat them in the company of people suffering from dementia, though. Some people with dementia are nice. Others, well, just aren't.
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Old 01-23-2015, 11:11 AM   #19
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Side track: I think the worst thing about MIL's otherwise very pleasant nursing home was the group dining. Pre-nursing home, she had happily eaten most of her meals alone, to her tastes, reading a newspaper or watching the news or game shows on TV, for years since FIL passed away. Being herded into a dining room three times a day, seated with three random people no matter how nice they were, and served from a cafeteria tray was very hard on her.

Back to topic: DH had to stop feeding the birds when the squirrels and rabbits and skunks made the area under the feeders, with the fallen seed, their winter gathering place. The yellow snow was pretty gross and the skunks decided to stick around. DH is still sad about it.
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Old 01-23-2015, 11:40 AM   #20
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Back to birds.....


For my backyard - the birds first noticed the seed scattered about on the ground. Took days longer for them to start drinking from the upside-down Frisbee used as a water dish.


But now most all of them occasionally sip from the Frisbee.
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