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Sunday, April 17, 2016

Discouraging “feeder hogs”


    Sometimes, certain bird species will dominate a feeder, crowding out or scaring away more desireable birds. So a frequent question is how to make the “hogs” go elsewhere while still feeding less aggressive birds.

Try removing the food the “feeder hogs” are looking for. To discourage Grackles, try feeding safflower. But to discourage House Finches, avoid safflower. To limit Crows and Doves, stop putting out cracked corn and bread. Discourage House Sparrows and Cowbirds with a seed mix containing no millet.  And in north Texas, never put any birdseed mix on ground, or use a mix containing milo; it’s rarely eaten – except by rodents. 
 
MOBS OF GRACKLES      Grackles are those large, ubiquitous, noisy, black birds that flock together by the hundreds in heavily-developed parts of this area. More accurately, they’re called Great-tailed Grackles; the huge flocks normally have other birds in them too – maybe Red-winged Blackbirds, Cowbirds or Common Grackles (other kinds of birds that aren’t put off by marginally-habitable or “urbanized” land).
It wasn’t always that way in Texas. Back in the early part of the 20th century, Great-tailed Grackles were only found in the south Texas brush country and coastal prairie. By the 1920s, however, they had crept northward and were frequently seen around Austin. Then, by the 1950s, they had followed the human‘s “food trail” and had become established in the Dallas-Ft.Worth area.

 
Owen Yost, in addition to blogging, is a Landscape Architect emeritus from here, whos worked in north Texas for over 30 years.  He is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), International Society of Landscape Architects, the National BirdFeeding Society, National Wildlife Federation and the Audubon Society. He was honored with a Lifetime Achievement award by the Native Plant Society of Texas. His design office is at northwestern68@yahoo.com