About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How Not to Kill a Mockingbird Guarding Your Feeders Too Aggressively

This question came to me via Twitter:

To me: @birdsunlimited Any suggestions for a territorial mockingbird that won't allow other birds near feeder in this freezing weather in Atlanta? Thks!

My reply: Can you describe the feeder? Is it a mealworm feeder? Are they eating their fill and moving on or guarding it all day?
To me again: @birdsunlimited It's a squirrel twirler and the mockingbird is guarding it all day long! Any bird that comes close is attacked...thks!

Northern Mockingbirds are a rare winter resident here in Michigan, but in the spring people do tell me about how they were dive bombed when they got too close to a nest. This aggressive behavior in defending their home is very common. They mark their borders twice a year; once in the spring for nesting season and then again in the fall to protect winter food sources.

Mockingbirds can be quite determined when defending what they view as their territory. And I think you have placed the feeder within his borders unknowingly. Now he sees it as his duty to guard the feeder as well as other food sources in this area against all other invading birds.

As frustrating as the situation is, we have to remember mockingbirds are natural pest controllers and seed dispersers. They eat lots of bugs like beetles, ants, wasps, and grasshoppers in the summer and a wide variety of fruits and berries during the winter.

Mockingbirds may visit our feeding stations for suet, raisins, fruit, mealworms or nuts. Make sure you’re not feeding anything that is attractive to the mockingbirds.

Is the feeder near a fruit tree or berry bush that he likes? If the food in the feeder isn’t attractive to the mockingbird it has to be the location. To stop the attack on other birds you’ll probably have to move the feeder you have to a new location or place a second feeder in a different location out of his sight.

For the best answers to questions about local birds you can always contact your closest Wild Birds Unlimited store for more help. Does anyone else have any better solutions?

1 comment:

Susan said...

I only have a porch this is my second mockingbird. The other migrated, I have all kinds of birds from chickadees, to a cardinal family to 2 different kind of woodpeckers. I saw this mockingbird chase 2 pigeons away. They saw him and were gone. I saw my other one attack my resident squirrel. They are a handful to say the least but can be sweet when they want to.