If your feeders are anything like mine right now, there are extended quiet times. It’s like the birds are waiting for someone to turn on the neon “Open” sign so they can visit with a frenzied purpose and then be gone again.
No need to be concerned. It’s caching season and many birds are cashing in on the abundance of natural foods. There are loads of seeds, nuts, berries, fruits and insects to harvest and hide for a better chance at surviving the coming harsh weather. And they can remember, very accurately, where they stash each morsel.
The birds are also taking advantage of foods in backyard feeders for caching.
Chickadees prefer to cache black oil sunflower seeds; often eating a small portion before hiding it in and under bark, dead leaves, knotholes, clusters of pine needles, gutters, shingles and in the ground. Chickadees cache more in the middle of the day when visiting feeders.
Titmice are rather particular. They choose the largest sunflower seeds available to eat and cache. Titmice and chickadees like to cache seeds within 130 feet of bird feeders; your yard or a neighbor’s yard. I find seeds tucked into the bark and crevices of my wood pile. A coworker finds seeds cached under mulch in her garden.
Nuthatches prefer heavier sunflower seeds over the lighter ones. Be sure to have some sunflower chips in your blend as they like these 25% more than one in the shell. They cache more in the morning and prefer to hide foods on deeply furrowed tree trunks and the underside of branches. Nuthatches are also known to hide seeds under a shingle or behind wooden siding, like a friend of mine has been observing on their house this fall.
Jays love to cache peanuts and acorns. They are especially fond of peanuts in the shell. They bury them in the ground and are known to cache about 100 in a day; emptying my feeder in no time. Watch for them make repeated trips to your feeders (or an oak tree) and fly off. They can travel up to six miles to bury their nutritious treasure.
What birds are cashing in on caching foods from your feeders?