Northern mockingbirds are common backyard residents throughout Georgia. Unlike some of the birds, we see in our backyards, it is a permanent resident. If you regularly see or hear a mockingbirds in your yard, it is safe to say your property is located within a mockingbird’s territory. This means a mockingbird will try to keep other birds from its favorite food sources such as feeders. Currently a mockingbird is defending my suet feeder.
Consequently, the only time hairy and downy woodpeckers, cardinals, house finches, Carolina chickadees, brown headed nuthatches, tufted titmice and others an able to feed on the suet offered in a wire suet feeder is when the mockingbird is somewhere out of sight of the feeder.
The only bird that doesn’t seem to be intimidated by the mockingbird is the brown thrasher. I have never witnessed a mockingbird try to scare a brown thrasher away from a suet feeder; perhaps this because mockingbirds find thrashers too large and intimidating.
Since I enjoy watching a variety of birds feeding in my feeding area, I have tried a couple of things remedy the situation.
For example, I purchased a suet feeder that was surrounded by hardware cloth cage. The suet feeder was positioned well away from the side of the cage. While it allowed smaller birds such as brown-headed nuthatches, titmice, chickadees, and sparrows to slip through the opening in the hardware cloth and feed, it kept larger birds such as mockingbirds, cardinals, and woodpeckers away.
My latest approach is to offer my backyard avian neighbors two suet feeders. The theory is that it is impossible for one bird to defend more than one feeder.
I began my experiment by placing another suet feeder within ten feet of the original feeder. It didn’t take long for me to realize there the second feeder was positioned too close to the original feeder. As such, the mockingbird kept other birds away from both feeders.
I have since moved the second feeder some 30 feet away. This seems to work fine, however, I now find it more difficult to watch and photograph birds visiting the second feeder. That being the case, I need to begin moving the second feeder ever closer to the first feeder. I am sure; at some point, the mockingbird will be able to defend both feeders. Then I can move it back to a location just beyond that distance.
Perhaps I do should go ahead a let the mockingbird defend a single suet feeder. Since the bird cannot be near the feeder all of the time, I can enjoy seeing other birds dine to the suet during those times the mockingbird is elsewhere. That may be best after all.
If you have come up with a great way to deal with an aggressive mockingbird trying to defend suet, mealworms, or fruit, I sure would like to know about it.
Hi Terry. I probably have too many suet feeders but I love to get that long look while they
are eating. I use hot pepper suet in two tail prop feeders which allows everyone to eat.
I feed the suet I make, in two round squirrel proof feeders. Got them from Duncraft long ago.
The little birds go in, like you mentioned, larger birds can still lean in from the outside.
For my live mealworms, I put up an extra dish with a few for the mockingbird. Seems to work
well, but there are times on my deck where he holds court and won’t let anyone eat from