Nationwide Hen Feeding Month: Gross sales are rising, as are views on feeding cameras
It’s not just that February is the national bird feeding month. Every month since the pandemic started last year appeared to be a month of bird feeding.
Sales of feed, seeds, and almost anything bird-related have skyrocketed as people flocked to the bird world – a safe, colorful, and interesting haven during the sometimes depressing and lonely days of the pandemic.
At the Audubon Society’s western Pennsylvania headquarters at Fox Chapel and at their Succop Nature Park store in Butler, feed and seed sales are up 200% since early last year.
“Covid got them bird watching in their backyard,” said Brian Shema, operations manager for the local Audubon Society. The nonprofit has sold dozens of feeders. The best seller is a squirrel-proof feeder.
At Wild Bird Plus in Unity, they not only ran out of oriole feeders, but also ran out of suppliers.
“People couldn’t go to the movies and it brought them back to nature,” said Beth Ludvik, owner of Wild Bird Plus. Hopper-style and tube feeders are consistently popular, she said.
“Feeding birds is so comforting and calming,” she said. “Once you start, it’s an obsession and you can’t stop.”
You don’t even have to have a bird feeder to be addicted to watching them.
Viewership increased tenfold over the past year for two live streaming web cams trained at two feeding stations in Murrysville. PixCams launched its feeder webcams last year. Viewership is now comparable to PixCam’s most popular live feed – the Pittsburgh Hays Bald Eagle webcam.
“A feeder webcam is a nice visual thing,” said Bill Powers, owner of PixCams. “It has a lot of color and movement. It’s dynamic and you can’t predict which birds will come in. “
Some people watching the feeder camera buy their own feeders and then jump into the webcam chat room for tips on how to attract some “good birds,” Powers said.
Currently, the Murrysville feeder is home to the eastern thrush, woodpecker, pine siskin, purple finch, red-breasted nuthatch, and more.
New customers are driving Audubon’s sales, Shema said.
People pop up with questions about what type of feeder to use – there are dozens of models. They make their purchase and purchase Audubon’s Birdseed Blend, Beechwood Blend, formulated for local birds.
One of the hallmarks of a special local mix is that no seed is left on the ground. Loose seeds below the feeder can attract rodents in some habitats, especially urban and river areas.
So many birds, so many food options.
Powers has said it’s the mealworms that lure a herd of eastern thrushes to his feeder cams in Murrysville.
Shema offered the following bird feeding tips:
• Birdhouses should be located within 3 feet or more than 25 feet of a window to reduce the breaking of bird windows.
• Here’s a tricky tip: “A feeder needs to be wide enough that a squirrel can’t jump on it, but close enough for a bird to dive in when a predator shows up,” Shema said. A good distance between a feeder and a bush or tree is usually 8 to 10 feet.
• Clean the feeders every two weeks with diluted vinegar. Salmonella poisoning and the spread of an eye disease that affects finches can kill the birds that visit a feeder.
February has been set as the month for bird feeding recognition not only because it’s fun, but also because birds can survive the harsh winter weather in February when wild forage can be scarce or snowy.
Mary Ann Thomas is a contributor to Tribune Review. You can contact Mary at 724-226-4691, email@example.com, or on Twitter.
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