Birdfeeder for 34th floor apartment?
July 6, 2014 12:04 AM   Subscribe

We live on the 34th floor of an apartment with no balcony (there's an air-con ledge I suppose, but ours is generally inaccessible) near a patch of green with lots of birds. Eagles and ospreys and the like fly by outside our windows often. Our windows have permanent grilles because of the curious toddler. We'd love to have a birdfeeder attached very firmly (no suction cups) to our window grilles on the outside. Is this possible and would it work in attracting birds? What are the problems in apartment birdfeeders?
posted by viggorlijah to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I too live in a highrise building; feeding any birds, at our windows or on the property's grounds, is totally forbidden. The problem is, feeding won't just attract a few pretty songbirds, it attracts tons of pigeons and grackles and crows who leave massive amounts of poop all over the building ledges and cars in the parking lot, plus rats and other critters.

Yes, I know you said you're on the 34th floor, but also yes the birds and their debris won't just stay neatly at (and ONLY at) your window: it would definitely affect the WHOLE building.
posted by easily confused at 2:05 AM on July 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You're almost certainly too high. Pretty songbirds don't fly that high voluntarily. Cliff-nesters and predatory birds do. So you might be able to put up a seagull feeder and bait it with your kitchen compost but you're not going to get an sparrows and finches unless the air currents in your area are freaky.

Most of the birds that people like to attract to feeders are the sort that live and feed below the canopy. I live near some coastal cliffs and periodically black capped chickadees get blown, or driven or wander over the cliff and end up on the shoreline. They don't have the wing strength or stamina to fly back up again. Even their sense of direction urges them to fly lower, not higher, so they get trapped on the shingle below. If they make it back to the brush and the trees above they have to do it by hopping and fluttering slowly up one of the stretches between the cliffs but they usually succumb to exhaustion or a predator. The cliffs are several stories tall.

You mention two types of birds. Ospreys prefer eating live fish so you'd need to have a carp pond. You do not want to attract ospreys. An osprey's nesting and feeding area is an olfactory wonder. Meanwhile eagles prefer catching small birds and mammals. Their presence alone ensures that the little birds would be taking a suicidal risk coming up to your feeder. You might attract some eagles species by putting out feeder food but your best bet would be to periodically release live prey... I think you have a challenge here that would tax a wildlife centre.
posted by Jane the Brown at 4:32 AM on July 6, 2014 [6 favorites]

I assure you that this will be against your building's rules.
posted by srboisvert at 6:04 AM on July 6, 2014

You can use cable ties to attach a birdfeeder securely to a window grille, but I would agree with the other responders that this is likely against your building's rules....
posted by dfriedman at 6:48 AM on July 6, 2014

Best answer: (just a note on cable ties -- which also occurred to me, an immoderate cable-tie enthusiast: they do degrade in sunlight, and will eventually break. *glances out the window at broken down, formerly cable-tie-repaired gate*)
posted by taz at 7:52 AM on July 6, 2014

Chances are that the building rules prohibit this due to the massive amounts of bird poop generated. We put a bird feeder up using cable ties, when we lived in a second floor condo in Texas, no-one complained as the loop was landing on the shrubs and not a car, but we had a lot of poop to clean off our ledge.

To answer your question, cable ties will do it, but check your bylaws first.
posted by arcticseal at 8:44 AM on July 6, 2014

Ooh, be careful creating a welcoming environment for birds on your balcony. My friend just had to get rid of ALL of his soft furniture and TV (which has slits in it) because once the birds left the nest from his balcony, millions of bird mites moved in to his apartment... His whole carpet, furniture, everything was covered in a layer of bird mites, and he didn't notice until he looked at something dark - his phone and wandered what the white film is covering his screen. They had to get the exterminators on top of bleaching everything themselves for days, getting rid of stuff. What a pain.
posted by at 8:47 AM on July 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

And oh yea, his balcony had so much poop and it all dried and he literally had to break it up with a sharp object to get it to crack and come off the balcony. Gross.
posted by at 8:48 AM on July 6, 2014

Best answer: At that altitude, you might attract pigeons--perhaps some ravens or grackles--if you bolt a feeder to the grill. Grackles like to chase eagles and ravens around and peck them on the head. I dunno why. I suppose you could watch the daily drama of pigeons creating a layer of prospective compost on your window ledge, while they are huddling in terror. Now and then one of the raptors (I'm guessing you probably also have falcons in the area) will zoom by at about 60 miles per hour and leave cloud of feathers where a pigeon was standing.

I mention this not to be unkind, but because RedBud and I used to tend a backyard finch feeder--half a dozen seed socks and a couple other little gizmos hanging on a largish steel arch. American Finches, Purple finchs, titmouses, and a couple other species would patronize our little birdie diner. Juncos and a pair of California grosbeaks scratched around under the feeder for this and that, and some robin-like birds clawed through the compost to get at the insects that flourished as a result of all the bird doo-doo under the feeders. Our custom was to watch their antics while we had breakfast. Finches are a contentious bunch of little squabblers, and very entertaining. We'd usually had a dozen or so finches on each sock, and a few dozen more queuing up in the mimosa tree in the yard. Now and then a falcon or other sort of hawk would swoop down and take one away. That wasn't really a problem, but when we started taking in rescue cats it just got sort of, well, gladiatorial, and our bird feeder quickly evolved into a cat feeder, so we stopped feeding the birds.

We planted honeysuckles under the bird feeder, and now we get hummingbirds. They are safe enough, because they feed above the level our cats can reach. The layer of compost under the bird feeder was marvelous, and supported a colony of sunflowers for a few years, until all the volunteer seeds had germinated.

My sketch here is intended to show that a bird feeder generates a simple ecology around it. The details of your feeder obviously will vary from ours. Supplying the birds with food isn't much of a chore, but you will also witness occasional carnage when the raptors feed, and make decisions about the accumulation of bird poo on the ledge.
posted by mule98J at 9:47 AM on July 6, 2014

Best answer: I agree with other who say that you are too high up and won't attract anything that eats seed. I live on the 4th floor overlooking a private garden with lots of songbirds, but when we put seed out we only ever get the occasional pigeon.
posted by lollymccatburglar at 1:31 AM on July 7, 2014

Response by poster: So while technically our building rules allow the open-top box of live hamsters securely tied onto the ledge with a "Eagles Welcome" sign, I think we will opt instead for a small telescope instead to spy on all the birds nearby. Thanks for all the advice about the heights!
posted by viggorlijah at 2:07 AM on July 7, 2014 [4 favorites]

« Older What is this plant? PacNW, Gigantic   |   Ready-made pop songbook, where are you? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.