watching_birds-photo Watching, Attracting and Feeding Birds in New York
with Sam Crowe

Issues you may face when feeding birds

These are some of the problems you may face if you feed birds. There are good solutions for all of them.  Visit the Food and Feeders section for details.

  • Squirrels - Squirrels can consume large quantities of sunflower seed.
  • Rodents - In some cases, large amounts of dropped seeds can attract rodents.
  • Germinating seeds - Seeds that fall under feeders may germinate.
  • Less-desirable birds - Introduced species such as House Sparrows and starlings can sometimes dominate a feeder.
  • Improper seed choices - Bird feed sold in grocery stores and discount stores is often not appropriate for hanging feeders.

Check the ingredients before you buy. Seeds like milo and millet are best served on the ground and are most popular with sparrows and doves.

squirrel at bird feeder

All of these problems can be easily solved or greatly reduced by the appropriate selection of feeder and feed. Well, most of them anyway. You may find that squirrels are a formidable foe, but then they can be fun to watch also.

We invite you to come back often.  The home page is updated every week.

Size Matters

Size is an important clue in bird identification

One of the best way to start identifying a bird is to determine its size.  This can more difficult than one would expect.  On our web site people can send us photographs of birds to identify.  The size information is sometimes not very accurate, and is sometimes way off.   In some cases the size information we receive is off by as much as a factor of 10!

When trying to determine size try to compare the bird to a nearby object of known size.  Is it near a bird that you know, or near an object like cola can?  The Northern Cardinal is common at many feeders and can provide a good size comparison for backyard birds.

The site has an extensive section on birding identification.

northern cardinal

Male Northern Cardinal




Birding Quick Hits

Are you thinking about buying a pair of binoculars for watching the birds in your yard?  Looks for models with a short focal distances, quality eye cups if you wear glasses, and models that have 6, 7 or 8 X magnification.   8 x 40 is a great all around choice. 

Learn about the Red-shouldered Hawk.
red-shouldered hawk

Frequently Asked Questions

What is meant by a kettle of hawks?

Hawks and vultures are often seen soaring together in flocks of a few to hundreds of birds. Most often observed during migration, such a group is commonly referred to as a "kettle."
kettle of broad-winged hawks

Kettle of Broad-winged Hawks

Broad-winged Hawks after migrate in groups of up to thousands of birds.


There a several locations in the United States that are excellent locations for observing migrating hawks, these included:

The Texas Rio Grande Valley, where thousands of hawks can be observed each fall and spring as they funnel down the Texas coastline and into Mexico. The area is especially well-known for the large numbers of Broad-winged Hawks that pass through the area.

Hawk Mountain in eastern Pennsylvania may be the best-known hawk migration monitoring location in the country. In 2006, Hawk Mountain counters recorded over 25,000 hawks, eagles and falcons--the largest number of migrants at that location in two decades.

Corpus Christi, Texas is also home to a very active hawk watch location, with numbers sometimes reaching 100,000 raptors in a single day.

Bird identification

Learning to identify the birds you see is a fun and rewarding experience.  If you are a novice at identifying birds we have several options for you.

50 common New York birdsNifty Fifty Guides:  Our Nifty Fifty Guide to the Birds of New York is available on-line and in print.   It contains 25 common backyard birds and 25 additional common birds found in New York.  Purchase the print version.

The online version is shown below. Click on a corner to turn the page. has multiple resources for identifying a bird you have seen as well as information on improving your identification skills.   You can also send us an image on the web site and we will try to identify it for you.