The Bully of the Bird Feeders or When Mockingbirds Ruin Your Bird Feeder Plans
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Mockingbirds are notoriously territorial, and they will take over bird feeders and drive timid birds away. When other territorial birds, or bullies, take over a feeder, you can usually discourage them by changing your feed. Mockingbirds, you will read, prefer foods like worms, suet, berries, and insects. But if you’re handing out free seed, they will crash your bird feeder party every time. Not only do they try to drive out other birds, but also will take on dogs, cats, and, occasionally, dive-bomb a human to let him know who is boss of the feeder. It can be very, very difficult to get rid of a mockingbird once he has made himself comfortable. Your bird feeder plans may be thrown off track by these bully birds.
If you can’t beat them, join them – or at least let them stay in your yard. Mockingbirds aren’t all bad, of course; they are following their natural tendency to assert themselves. They can help keep pests out of your yard, and learning to recognize their calls is something any bird lover will enjoy. But maybe the most common reason why people let mockingbirds stay in their yard is because they don’t have much choice! Mockingbirds will stay as long as they get food, even if it is food that they may not prefer if given a choice.
Some people try to post plastic or wood owl or hawk silhouettes to discourage the bird from returning, but this is unreliable, and often, the mockingbird will catch on that these “predators” pose no threat. Another rather time-consuming, not to mention absurd, idea is to fill a Super Soaker with soapy water and shoot the mockingbird each time it enters your yard or goes near the feeder.
You don’t want to stop putting out feed or seed because you do want to encourage other birds to visit your yard. How do you get around the significant obstacle that the mockingbird presents? Try drawing up another set of bird feeder plans and building your feeder in another spot of your yard. If at all possible, make sure to put a natural or artificial barrier in between this feeder and the one your mockingbird has claimed. A lawn hedge or a fence will work; you could also put the other feeder on the other side of your home or building. The other birds will start to come to this feeder, while the mockingbird is left to rule over his.
By Rose Church