Question: I am new to birding and I'm so confused! I have a bird feeder set up in my flower bed that has bushes in it. Things were going well when suddenly I began seeing so many Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds that I didn't see the small ones anymore, sparrows and finches.I bought a finch feeder and it is full of nyjer seed but I am not getting any of these small birds coming to it. Would you please be so kind to explain what is happening? Also, would you please give me some pointers to attract the lovely finches?
You didn't say what type of bird feeders you are using, but I would suggest that you do not use platform bird feeders or hopper bird feeders. Grackles like to perch when they eat. Switch to a feeder like the Squirrel Buster Classic. You can remove the perches to deter the grackles, but the small birds will be able to perch on the wire grid. We also have feeders like the Classic Tube Feeder. You can adjust the baffle so that large birds cannot land on the perches.
You may want to switch to a sunflower or safflower bird feeder without perches as both safflower and sunflower seed is not a favorite of grackles. The sunflower is a favorite of the finches you want to attract. Be sure to use black oil sunflower in your feeders.
If you are feeding suet, you will want to switch to an upside down suet feeder. The chickadees, nuthatches, titmouse and woodpeckers will still be able to reach the suet, but the grackles do not have the ability to hang upside down.
You mentioned you want to attract finches, so make sure you have a thistle/nyjer feeder for finches. You may also attract some sparrows with this feeder. Our Black-throated Sparrows use our feeder all year round. Our Pine Siskins and Goldfinches will be leaving us for the summer. They will return after their breeding season, however some years they may not return until close to Christmas. The best time to attract the finches is in the fall. If you put your feeder up in early spring, the birds have probably established a routine for visiting feeders and will probably not be looking for new feeders. Be sure to have your feeders up in late August or September depending on where you live.
You may want to learn more about attracting finches to your yard by checking out this article on the subject. I hope this helps you solve your problems, but remember that we cannot always pick and choose who stops at our feeders. If the grackles are migrating take comfort in the fact they will be gone in a few weeks.