Feed the Birds…$25 a bag

IMG_0493 (1)

For several years now, we’ve been feeding the birds year round. And, there have been definite rewards to doing that. My kids can identify many more birds than I ever could at their age. And, the feeders, which hang outside our dining room, have provided us with endless entertainment. Our pets, too, have loved having the wildlife so tantalizingly close. Particularly Manny.


But all of this has come at a price.

For one thing, bird seed isn’t cheap. Especially if you’re buying the “no mess” kind that is supposed to be a better buy anyway because it is pure feed and not just a lot of hulls and shells.


And then there is the wear and tear on the house.


This is what the squirrels have done to our screen. The birds (you wouldn’t believe what messy eaters they are!) dropped seeds into the niche between the window and the screen. Then the squirrels (probably on a day I didn’t fill the feeders), tore the screen open to get at the seed.


Yes, that squirrel is sitting between the screen and the window. At one point, he forgot how he’d gotten in there and ran circles trying to figure out how to get out. Manny loved it.

Meanwhile, at the back of the house, we’ve had a woodpecker visiting. See that little hole in the wooden square? It’s about the size of a quarter now.


The woodpecker has been popping in at various times all week. Whenever CPT A catches him, the woodpecker boldly eyes CPT A through the hole, then flies away.

Now that’s cheek!

It makes me think of a story my uncle told of a squirrel caught visiting an office in the Idaho State Capitol Building. Everyone thought it was adorable until the squirrel peed on one of the computer keyboards. Animals can be incredibly destructive.

So what’s the answer?

I think for us, the answer begins with reducing the number of feeders we have. I do feel a bit of a pang, thinking about all the birds they attract, but then I think of the squirrels, who always take over the feeders anyway, and that pang goes away.

Long term, I’m toying with the idea of replacing our current “dog garden” with a wildlife garden – an area with trees and shrubs, designed to feed the birds with something other than bags of birdseed. Maybe it will also keep them a bit farther away from the house. Our screens and walls will thank us, I’m sure, and the entire project will give me something interesting to contemplate over the winter. Whatever we decide, it will definitely involve a reduction in the bird seed bill!

From the dining room table, wishing I’d kept a running total of the amount we’ve spent on birdseed over the past year (though maybe it would just make me cry),

Mrs. Smythe

5 Comments on “Feed the Birds…$25 a bag

    • We have certainly seen a lot of birds that we probably wouldn’t get a chance to see otherwise.

  1. I feel your financial pain. We have one feeder and a suet cage so we get all kinds of beautiful birds… and squirrels, red and grey, raccoon, chipmunks, and a wild turkey a few years ago. Think of all they yarn can buy with what you save on bird seed. 😉

  2. In the summer we put the bird feeders in the jungle so we don’t have to clean up the mess. In the winter we hang them off the clothes line outside the dining room, not real close to the house but close enough to see them. Plus we have a scope to watch them. We always buy our birdseed at Brown’s when they have their annual sale. We buy a LOT of birdseed and store it in metal trash cans. We just ran out of that birdseed so I bought some at Costco to tide us over until Brown’s has their sale. I noticed immediately that it wasn’t as good, more filler and the sunflowers had hulls. I suppose the birds won’t mind, although I often think about all the flower seeds in my yard that they could help themselves to and wonder if I could just leave them with that, but I never do. We keep a journal of the birds we see and interesting things they and the other animals do. We were very good about entering things at first but let it slowly peter out, I’m thinking it’s time to get it out and begin again. Migration will be happening before we know it and I hope we’ll see interesting birds then. BTW, have you been seeing all the hummingbirds in our feeder? It’s near the property line so check it out. They are going through food at a rapid rate!