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What, if any, scraps do you put outside for the local wildlife?

I do not hate squirrels, even though they have damaged my porch. I hand-reared Poopsie when I was 6 and reintroduced him to the wild. I have put peanuts and dried corn on the porch for them in winter. Where my patience runs out is when they take over the feeders with sunflower hearts that I intend for the wild birds. Unless I also cater to the squirrels, they will monopolize the "squirrel-proof" feeders to the extent that the birds can't feed.

I freeze mixed seed in empty milk cartons, or ice cube trays, topped up with water. These logs and cubes, tossed out for the squirrels, distract them from the bird feeders. I also toss ends of carrots, apple peels, and other produce trimmings out on the ground and they do disappear though I'm not sure who's eating them.....there are also wild rabbits, mice, and chipmunks here, but as far as I know, no deer, wild turkeys, or coyotes. Possibly skunk, opossum, and raccoon. There are two roaming cats, no loose dogs.

The other day I trimmed mold from some cheddar and parmesan and tossed that out, too. It was gone the next day. What scraps do you share with backyard denizens, and have you noticed anything they DON'T accept?

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  1. I am reluctant to throw out any scraps that might attract geese, as their presence in this town is getting close to pest status. The Canadian geese have figured out that the weather is tolerable all year long and that if they hang out in local parks there is plenty to eat..(both because kids love to feed them and because there are plenty of natural food sources as well). So many retire here, and aren't migrating. I like geese, really, they are beautiful birds. But I can't walk in ANY of my favorite parks without having to dodge goose poop every step of the way.

    And after reading "Night of the Grizzly" ( I think that's what its called, or maybe its "Night of the Grizzlies" I would NEVER feed a meat-eater. So the only wildlife I feed are birds that can reach my two bird feeders (one of which is a hummingbird feeder). And I do that for selfish reasons: I love watching hummingbirds and listening to songbirds.....

    14 Replies
    1. re: janetofreno

      As you know, we live half the time at the lake so putting anything out, including bird seed will attract the bears. As they say "A fed bear is a dead bear." So I can't feed the other critters. But the squirrels I see out and about (no snow!) look good.

        1. re: Raffles

          Black although they still look kinda brown to me :) I committed two grievous sins a couple of years ago. I left the window over the kitchen sink open and I left meat on the counter. At 3AM, mama bear removed the screen from the window and came in. I made so much racket getting downstairs that she fled. Stood under a nearby tree with her two cubs just calmly looking at me. I needed no further lessons. Oh, she didn't get the meat (pheasant) and when I served it the following night I didn't mention to our guests that she had, in fact, touched it :)

          1. re: c oliver

            Does licking fall under your description of "touching"? I think if a bear licked my pheasant that should be disclosed to me prior to my eating. Now when you invite me over for dinner I'm going to have to bring a list of potential animal(s) and parts of animals might have come into contact with my food.

            The advantage to being my size and 3/4 Italian if this were to happen to me and I ran downstairs in my pj's (just a pair of gym shorts) The bear would just assume I'm one of them, wearing gym shorts, and just leave.

            1. re: jrvedivici

              Oh my god. You had me snort laughing at this.

              1. re: jrvedivici

                I'm pretty sure she just used her 'hand.' One of the best damn things I've ever cooked. (Thanks, James Beard.) You think I'm going to spoil it by squealing?!? I'm pretty sure Julia Child would have totally approved!

                1. re: c oliver

                  I'm starting to wonder the truthfulness of this story;

                  A.) You're "pretty sure she just used her hand", so your not really sure, she could have humped the thing before you got down stairs and you just saw her "petting" it.
                  B.) Bears don't have hands!!!!
                  C.) You know the bear was a "she"? Just how much time did you have to "inspect" the sex of the bear?
                  D.) I think Julia Child is turning in her grave right now over this!!

                  I'm onto you C..........I'm watching you.

                  1. re: jrvedivici

                    Trust your elders, junior!!!

                    You know perhaps she did "hump" it now that you mention it but it did slow cook for quite a while :) They can call 'em hands if they want to. Since the cubs only hang out with their moms it was a safe guess. Julia would probably ask for seconds :)

                2. re: jrvedivici

                  did the gym shorts have fur on them?

                  1. re: treb

                    You've got to tip me to tell...............

                3. re: c oliver

                  They have broken into our deer camp 4 times.3 broken windows and one broken door, and yes, we had removed all food. It started when they stole a garbage can full of dog food off the screened in porch, that they carried away a 1/2 mile into the woods! I can see Yogi laughing!!

                  1. re: Raffles

                    That's what starts it. They get success at a particular place and return and return. We like and want to protect our local bears so we do our best. As I said, I was totally at fault...and the two scrapes in the screen remind me of that every day!

                    1. re: c oliver

                      I made friends with a young teenage female black bear (2 yrs old) back in '91 when working for a year with Voyageur Outward Bound out of Ely, MN. She kind of got a crush on me and followed me around. It got to the point she would either open the door or break into my "screen house" to wake me up in the morning (basically a 4 bedroom, one story building, no other rooms, with bug screen from waist height up.) The way she woke me up was to take my wrist in her mouth and lick it. I never fed her, but I think she found me tasty...

                  2. re: c oliver

                    I'm luxuriating in glee, imagining the gagging horror of the special snowflakes who are convinced *their* counters are never cat-trodden when no one's home, when they read your confession. Good for you!

            2. Sugar water for the humming birds in the summer, black oil sunflower seeds in the winter. Scraps in the winter attract Rattus norvegicus .No seeds or scraps of ANY kind in the summer because of Ursus americanus, they are a very real problem where we summer.

              1. I don't like to attract animals of any kind close to the house, but in back of our property there is an area of woods where deer frequently cross. In the winter, if the snow is deep and their food sources are slim, I throw apples back there for them.

                1 Reply
                1. re: Kat

                  We have apple trees that drop fruit within our pool ensclosure. We take them and throw them into our rear woods by a ravine for the deer to eat.

                  We also place stale bread in the same area. Nothis is placed within the fenced areas of our yard so as not to attract wildlife that could be injurious to our domestic animals.

                2. I have several bird-feeders round the garden and, at this time of year, keep them topped up with peanuts and a seed mix. Apples which are well past their prime get chucked under the shrubs for blackbirds. Bread, cheese, bacon rind all find their way to the feeding table.

                  I need to be careful as we have a rat problem in the area and I don't want to do too much to encourage the rodents to come my way.

                  1. No, because we live on the edge of Maine's Northern Woods. We have critters that can be nuisances (Raccoons, Possums, Skunks), critters that can be a problem (Moose, Deer, Turkeys), and critters that can be downright dangerous (Coyotes, Bears, Cougars). While we enjoy seeing our animal neighbors as they pass through our expansive backyard (and we see them all) we prefer that they don't stick around too long.

                    1. Nearby township has an ordinance against feeding Canadian geese! They were expecting to be fed and apparently accosting joggers!?! Hey, they POOP about a POUMD of S a day!!

                      Sister has had a great place in WV mountains for over 20 years. LOTS of wildlife... mostly deer, occasional black bear, many birds, not a lot of squirrels?? She hung a few bird feeders but was upset when they were DUMPED when she returned next weekend. Since not crawling with squirrels, she blamed the deer. Being a "college graduate" (though citified), had a plan. She drove her SUV right up to trees, climbed on roof and moved feeders as HIGH as she could reach. Came back following weekend and feeders were RIPPED right off trees... NOT dear!?!

                      3 Replies
                        1. re: Raffles

                          She bared it very well... stripped bird feeders off trees!!

                        2. re: kseiverd

                          Raccoons, in all likelihood. Possibly bears, though.

                        3. My backyard is a wildlife buffet. There is a pool,. where anyone can drink. Compost bin with overripe fruit. veg trimmings and mature produce of all kinds. Stale bread, bagels and carbs are tossed out for the squirrels. And in the winter we fill the bird feeder. Nothing goes to waste. And comedy ensues when the local squirrels try to run up the tree with half a waffle in their greedy little jaws.

                          8 Replies
                          1. re: Cheflambo

                            Boy can I relate to this. Our back garden is called Wild Kingdom for all the wild life we have. Mind you, we live in a suburban neighborhood. We've seen Everything, including the aforementioned Raccoons, Possums , Skunks,Turkeys, Coyotes, and Foxes, and Rabbits. Squirrels are a major problem.

                            We dare not put anything out other than black oil seed and niger thistle. Whatever you do,do not put out red millet. It attracts rats. Read the labels if you're offering a mixed seed.

                            1. re: Gio

                              I've found the goldfinches prefer black oil sunflower to niger and they CAN manage the shells. Not to mention the time when the bag of niger in the cabinet tore and my visiting mother had a fantod because she thought it was mouse droppings. I now prefer to buy the shelled sunflower. Costs twice as much but ALL birds love it and there is zero waste or cleanup. If you figure the weight of the shell, the net cost is only slightly higher. As a gardener you must know that sunflower shells are said to contain some substance or other that kills off the grass.

                              1. re: greygarious

                                trader joes, shelled sunflower seeds only $1.99/lb bag. both birds and squirrels enjoy. i feed my backyard entertainers (birds, squirrels, rabbits) the seeds, peanuts, fruits, veggies, breads and other grain products. i have one rather odd rabbit that enjoys hard pretzels, he'll hop up to my back steps and wait until i toss him one.

                                i won't toss meats and cheeses into my yard, i take those items to a wooded area and feed the wildlife there.

                                1. re: Vidute

                                  I get the sunflower hearts at Agway. Something like $65 for 40#. But I'll stretch that, since I found black oil sunflower in the shell for $25 for 50# at Ocean State Job Lot.

                                  I know little about rabbits but a childhood pet bunny would eat strawberry shortcake!

                                  1. re: greygarious

                                    I have a pre-owned pet rabbit grey that loves pretty much anything. I usually save strawberry tops for her but sometimes my friend grabs them for smoothies
                                    She loves cooked rice, tortillas, crackers, banana peels, fortune cookies and cooked spaghetti. Good thing she mostly gets timothy hay. When she smells bread being toasted she goes berserk in her cage until she gets a bit of toast. She has me well trained.

                                    1. re: givemecarbs

                                      Is she *chubby* may I ask:) My cat is a *foodie* too like your bunny.

                                      1. re: MamasCooking

                                        MamasCooking she is older but very rowdy so she is normal weight. She loves to build cardboard towers in her indoor cage.
                                        She broke her old water bottle and now we have tried three new ones which she has rejected. I have read that this is a common problem with rabbits. I might have to get her one of those plastic bowls that snap onto the side of the cage. For now we are giving her misted timothy hay and veggies that have been just washed and not dried.
                                        Saw one big squirrel today among the birds on the ground in front of my windowsill. When there were more squirrels once in awhile one would scratch on the window for more seed if we didn't replenish promptly.

                                2. re: greygarious

                                  My back garden is devoted to the birds. No grass, just ground cover and evergreens. We use black oil seeds in 4 feeders that we bought from the Audubon Society in Lincoln. 2 on poles and 2 hanging. Those feeders attract a wide variety of birds: gold, house, and purple finches, cardinals, juncos, sparrows, nuthatches, chickadees, titmouse, 2 kinds of woodpeckers, flickers, blue jays. Suet is in cages, 1 from the hanging feeder, and 1 on a hook outside the kitchen window that faces the back. On the north side of the house is our den with 2 large windows. There we have a thistle feeder on a swinging hook. That attracts all the finches and chickadees. Fun to watch from inside. Bird baths are everywhere.

                                  We buy our seed and suet from the Co-op in Topsfield across from the Fairgrounds. 25 lb bags of blackoil and those cute cloth bags of niger. During this frigid weather the action at all the feeders has been extraordinary. The seed and suet are stored in an old fashioned aluminum barrel with a cover in the back entry. I think we have the avian situation pretty well covered.

                            2. We feed leftover bread, chips and crackers to the Mallards and the rogue farm ducks and Canada geese in our neighborhood backyard lake.
                              In summer, the ducks get any leftover or damaged vegetables from our garden, especially tomatoes - they're like crack to these birds!
                              We feed bread bits to the various turtles that come up to the dock looking for treats, and to the bluegills who watch out for us to throw stuff over the edge.

                              To keep the critters from being dependent on our handouts, we keep the treats to a minimum. They know where the snacks are, though. The Mallards come up to our patio door and knock on the glass with their beaks to get our attention.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: kitchengardengal

                                There is no way I could resist ducks tapping on the door!

                                We put out fruit and veggie scraps at the edge of our yard where the woods start. Sometimes they get eaten, sometimes not.

                                1. re: kitchengardengal

                                  If we're lunching or having dinner at one of the marinas along the Hudson, we get a kick out of the ducks. They'll swim along shore and then jump out of the water and waddle around looking for scraps. They know where the food is! Farther downriver, the carp will swarm around for food if they see any crackers thrown into the water. Those things (carp) are HUGE!

                                  1. re: breadchick

                                    Someone who had a koi pond told me that his koi (in the carp family) swarm toward him when he is near the pond, but do not pay attention to other people. I was skeptical but looked it up and learned that they do recognize the person who feeds them. Who'd have thought fish would be so perceptive? Even if they are smelling the food from underwater, rather than visually distinguishing their benefactor, it's quite an ability.

                                2. We stopped feeding birds at our old house. The feeder attracted squirrels to our deck, and made an awful mess. Eventually we couldn't even keep lawn chairs out there because the squirrels would chew the plastic straps. And then we got woodpeckers pecking our cedar siding; Mr. Sueatmo insisted that they were attracted by our feeder, although I am not convinced. And then, there was the time a raccoon tried to get the birdseed we had stored in an old milk can. Mr. Sueatmo charged him with a wooden plank and scared the raccoon, and me! Its not worth it to me to feed wildlife of any sort.

                                  1. I throw a few handfuls of roasted unsalted peanuts out every morning in the winter to quiet the flocks of bluejays that yell at me as I retrieve the morning paper. I'm sure the squirrels get their share as well. I also have suet feeders for the smaller birds. These aren't actually scraps, I buy them specifically for the birds--but I love listening to the hunting noises my two cats make as they watch the birds from the bay window.

                                    I was a bit horrified when my neighbor told me his wife leaves out food for the fox(es). Too many cats/small dogs in my suburban neighborhood to encourage animals known to carry many vermin/diseases.

                                    The deer pretty much eat whatever they want to eat; lately they've been tossing the snow back into my driveway to access the bush branches underneath. (And yes deer, I know it's you . . . not smart enough to cover their tracks in the snow ;)

                                    14 Replies
                                    1. re: gaffk

                                      It's nice to know that there are flocks of bluejays somewhere! We have very few of them here in West Georgia these days - but there seem to be more each year. Apparently West Nile Virus did some real damage to the bluejay population.
                                      I know they're noisy and rude, but to me they are full of life and fun to have around - as long as they don't divebomb your hair!

                                      1. re: kitchengardengal

                                        It's the strangest thing here north of Boston. Lately I've been hearing Bluejays with what I call bird laryngitis. I see the jays, but their call is nothing like the sound I used to hear. It's squeaky, off pitch, and strange. Wonder what's causing that.

                                        1. re: Gio

                                          A few years ago a bluejay was a rare site and a hungry cat made it rarer. Now it's Hitchcock's "The Birds" . . . dozens of bluejays. They are beautifully filling my pine tree.

                                          1. re: gaffk

                                            Gosh, well you're lucky. That was the case just a few short ears ago with us. We've been feeding the birds for a bout 20 years or more and I don't understand what I'm listening to when the bluejays come around. And, there are fewer of them than ever before.

                                            1. re: Gio

                                              I've been here for 37 yrs. Early on, there were at least 6 jays at once at the feeding table. They dwindled and for decades I neither heard nor saw a single one. A few returned close to 10 yrs ago. I do not hear a vocal difference - the blue jay's call is the herald of autumn. Hooligans they may be, but they are beauties and as a kid I hand-reared two of those, too. Plus a starling. I'm a pushover.

                                        2. re: kitchengardengal

                                          Had a fat bluejay on my windowsill this am kitchengardengirl. And I live near Philly. Well the squirrels are mostly gone. We suspect predator birds They are destructive brats but I do miss them. My plan was to make sure there was enough seed for birds and squirrels.
                                          It is still thrilling to see a bright red cardinal against the snow.
                                          We do have flying squirrels as well. They are adorable and I read somewhere they need some calcium so I do put a few bones out for them. Usually under this one big dead tree where I suspect they are living.

                                          1. re: givemecarbs

                                            I don't know if jays migrate but we only get a visit from one during a couple of weeks in September. Been the last five years or so.

                                            1. re: givemecarbs

                                              My flock of bluejays are also right outside of Philly.

                                              And you're right about the squirrels. I read somewhere that after Sandy, the raptors in NJ lost their food source so they migrated to eastern PA where small rodents were plentiful. In the last few months I've noticed more squirrels and fewer large predatory birds in my backyard.

                                              1. re: gaffk

                                                Gaffk, the predator birds generally reappear in mid march in my neck of the woods. Nine of them show up all at once. It is dramatic.
                                                I am pretty generous in tossing birdseed on my windowsill and it doesn't always get all eaten by dusk. A few times I've heard a terrifying bump in the night out there while I am quietly enjoying chowhound. This used to creep me out until I finally figured out that it was flying squirrels coming in for a landing and banging against my window.

                                            2. re: kitchengardengal

                                              Oh, god, here at Lake Tahoe, the predominant bird is the blue jay. And, yeah, what an annoying racket they make. Another reason not to feed the animals :)

                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                Your jays are not the same as the eastern blue jay, which is loud but wary. A friend in Santa Barbara has one that is bold enough to take peanuts from her hand. When she told me "Peanut" had been her customer for over 10 yrs I thought for sure there were "Peanuts" but I looked it up and learned that they are very long-lived compared to other North American wild birds of comparable size and habits. They serve as "watchdogs" for other birds and small prey animals, so they do have their value.

                                                1. re: greygarious

                                                  You're right. And they will sit on a nearby tree limb or deck rail and fuss at us. It's just that in other places one can wake up to bird song. Not with these kids.

                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                    The NY jays have the bowls to scare off the hawks that swoop into our yard and fields looking for smaller prey.

                                                    What a racket they make! Between them and the little beastie hummingbirds barreling through our garage. We're going to get beaked one of these days...

                                                2. re: c oliver

                                                  Stellar Jays in our part of the world c oliver!

                                            3. "Local wildlife" in my case is rats, feral cats and dogs, and giant cockroaches. So no scraps.

                                              1. Confession: when I was a little girl, I hand-reared a squirrel that I named "Tut" (after the sound he made, not after the King). While he was still very young, he nipped me (the one and only time), and my family pronounced me a "weresquirrel"...the plumper, less menacing cousin to the werewolf. Stupid joke.

                                                I make suet for the birds...my nana used to do this, and I do it when I can, now (I make my own with beef fat and bacon drippings, corn meal and nuts..sometimes veggie scraps). We have a decent number of woodpeckers around (along with chickadees and the usual suspects). I don't put out scraps for the furry wildlife since we live near woods in Methuen, and all seem to be doing well (like Gio, we've seen fox, raccoons, opossums, skunks, chipmunks, deer, coyotes, woodchuck and a fisher).

                                                There are a TON of bluejays and red tailed hawks this year. And earlier, the very bully-like turkeys.

                                                18 Replies
                                                1. re: pinehurst

                                                  It was so funny last November (2013). Several of us were in different parts of the house but we all congregated in the front hall when we thought we heard a bunch of Gobble Gobbles. And, lo and behold there was a flock of wild Turkeys prancing through our neighbor's side garden on their way to someplace else, kept in line by the male.. Mind you this a suburban area. Not rural.

                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                    That's a cool sight! Noisy, but cool. In recent years we've seen them around us by the twosies and threesies, but never a flock...only way up in NH for that. I got a kick that you heard the classic "gobbles". :-)

                                                    1. re: pinehurst

                                                      Actually, I thought it was the TV. LOL

                                                      1. re: pinehurst

                                                        Pinehurst, our dau in Rochester NH has a flock of turkeys that come by 2x a day.

                                                        1. re: Nanzi

                                                          Holy cow! Are they generally peaceful? One of my jobs is in Salem NH and they can cause a kerfluffle if they're in a mood. Orderly turkeys in a row. I'm impressed.

                                                      2. re: Gio

                                                        They're like little soldiers marching, aren't they? When we lived 'in the woods,' they were frequent visitors.

                                                        1. re: Gio

                                                          When my daughter resided in Sacramento in a residential area she often came out to go to work in the morning only to be apprehended by an intrusive wild turkey or two:) SO funny! There was a lot of wildlife in her area which was a block east of the American river.
                                                          She videotaped them chasing her then husband:):) Funny stuff!

                                                          1. re: MamasCooking

                                                            One of my postal customers was a new owner of their home. The carousel-style clothesline the previous owner had once used was long gone but the low metal tube into which the pole had been inserted was still in place, held by a buried cylinder of cement, and caused many a banged shin. As a temp fix, they stuck the pink lawn flamingo the old owner left behind into the tube. Every day during breeding season, it was wooed by a juvenile turkey tom. They took stills, but too bad they never taped him. Worthy of the AFHV show, for sure.

                                                            1. re: greygarious

                                                              Funny stuff. So much more fun than people watching:)

                                                        2. re: pinehurst

                                                          I'm not far from you, pinehurst, and I heard a fisher cat the first few weeks I moved here (several years ago). Thought it was a baby; realized it wasn't when the "voice" got a bit nasty-sounding!

                                                          We've had coyote warnings sent out to keep your cats/small dogs inside. The Tewksbury hospital and cemetery are nearby, and they roam the fields and woods, but I've not seen one. Don't forget, there are bald eagles in our area as well, especially near the Merrimack River. I saw my first one a few months ago circling over Route 495. :-)

                                                          I usually just toss out various leftover nuts, heels of bread, stale rolls, and apples that are going bad. I'm an end unit in my complex, so I wing the apples far enough over next to the woods, but the bread and nuts get tossed into the grass in front of my townhouse.

                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                            Fishers are making their way (already here actually) in upstate NY. There's a state park a few fields over, and fishers have such a great forested environment to thrive. Plenty of food to hunt.

                                                            One actually attacked a woman in her garage not far from our home. Think it was rabid, since their nocturnal as a rule. Yikes.

                                                            1. re: breadchick

                                                              No threadjacking so I will leave it to fishers are mean, mean mean. Would NOT want to meet one up close.

                                                              1. re: pinehurst

                                                                So can turkeys be - once they hit puberty, anyway. The PBS documentary, "My Life as a Turkey" was very enlightening. Glad I didn't see it when I was encountering them regularly. I'd have looked for a kevlar uniform!

                                                              2. re: breadchick

                                                                Yikes! You really only know they're around by their screams that sound like crying human babies.

                                                                1. re: breadchick

                                                                  Good grief, I did excel in English and the written word... "they're" not "their." I need some wine.

                                                                  1. re: breadchick

                                                                    No, actually, "their" is the right word :) But you can have wine anyway!

                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                      Now I really do need wine. Note to self: stop multi-tasking. Thanks, c!
                                                                      It actually is "they're."

                                                                      Maybe two glasses will help.

                                                                  2. re: breadchick

                                                                    I have seen only one fisher in PA but a neighbor reports regularly seeing a pair hunting in the field behind their house.

                                                                    We have tons of wild turkeys.

                                                              3. None, except for hummingbird food come warm months. We live in a rural area and would invite the wrong guests on our property. I will throw out the Halloween pumpkins for the foragers way out to the back near the woods. That's about it. I don't do coyotes, bears, the furry gray line, prickly things, animals with too much eyeliner (yeah, I'm talking to you raccoons!) and so on.

                                                                Chipmunks already think my perennials and herbs are the local farmers market...

                                                                1. Not one morsel.

                                                                  Where I live in the city it'd attract rodents, coyotes, those most annoying crows, raccoons and everything else I don't want around.
                                                                  When I'm camping I don't want rodents, bears, coyotes or anything else that'd create an annoyance.

                                                                  Natural Selection…
                                                                  Let 'em find their own.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. re: latindancer

                                                                    I'm in the city too and don't feed the wildlife. The only exception is in the summer when I hang a hummingbird feeder on my deck.

                                                                  2. Nothing! I live in a rural areal with a thriving coyote and bear population.

                                                                    2 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Hobbert

                                                                      Yeah, with bear (esp) all bets are off.

                                                                      1. re: pinehurst

                                                                        I went down to the office right after we moved in and the woman told me not to let pets out without keeping an eye on them. Somehow, the thought hasn't occurred to me before we moved in. I live in an old hunting retreat surrounded by woods and a river. I can't wait to go hiking in the spring but I think I'll do it armed :)

                                                                        Growing up, throwing scraps out was common. It didn't seem odd until my mom invited a friend over and the friend wanted to know why we kept chucking "trash" out lol. Things are a little different in the country, I guess.

                                                                    2. I live in a small town and we've had the dreaded "polar vortex" weather here in the Midwest.

                                                                      Kind of dorky, but I've been cracking a bowl of (stale?) mixed nuts and tossing the nut meat out for the birds. We are above 0 (F) for the first time in a few days and I've observed a few flocks.

                                                                      1. My brother lives in rural northern England and if he finds chicken wings on sale will buy a bunch. He chucks them outside to attract the hawks. They may not have had them in weeks (so certainly not dependent) but home in on them really quickly. Sitting in the living room watching these magnificent birds swoop down just 20 feet away is a remarkable experience.

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Chatsworth

                                                                          If he marinated and grilled those wingies he could attract me, too. I'm not so magnificent or graceful, but I do love wings!

                                                                          1. re: pinehurst

                                                                            But are you willing to get into a Hitchcockian situation over them?

                                                                            1. re: Chatsworth

                                                                              Ooh, with hawks? They win. They'd beat me like a drum.

                                                                        2. I threw a crust out for a squirrel the other day - unusual to see them so much at this time of year, but the London winter has been mild (temp wise) so far - no settled snow, just lots and lots of rain and wind. And more rain. So the poor little guy looked wet, cold and skinny. I know I shouldn't care about them anymore than rats and pigeons, but I love suqirrels.

                                                                          I don't throw food out routinely - I live in a flat above a restaurant, and it's bad enough that the foxes come sniffing around the bins at night - I'd be grossed out if the rats were comfortable enough to be seen as well.

                                                                          I occassionally feed 2 of the restaurant cats - they are ratters, so while they are somewhat looked after, they seem to be out in the cold a lot. And because I don't have things like canned tuna at home, they usually end up having little bits of roast chicken, or (to a friends horror when she saw me!) the last slice of prosciutto.

                                                                          I only feed them directly though. I don't leave food out.

                                                                          1. We do not leave any food outside for wild life. However, if you were to ask my wife she would probably say the spot at the head of the table where I sit is where she feed's the animals.

                                                                            1. I love feeding all my animals..
                                                                              Everything from the outside yucky romaine leaves for the rabbits, small kibble that my Pom hasn't finished that the Scrub Blue Jays love, the cut up veggie stems to the birds, rabbits and crows..

                                                                              I feed them under the oleander bushes so they have cover from the predatory birds.
                                                                              We have seen road runners, wild turkeys, bobcat, red tail hawks on a regular basis.

                                                                              Pretzel rolls that get old, I crumble up from large to small crumbles so the finches get some of the crumbs too.

                                                                              The bird bath is always filled with water and love when they come in after I feed them and they splash around and take a bath..LOVE!

                                                                              The Blue Jays will sometimes eat out of my hand and follow me down to the golfcourse..its so cool to be part of their world..they will see my car or ride up on the golf cart up the hill from tree to tree and then all hang out in the Palm trees when pulling into the garage...welcoming me home..coolest friggin' thing evah!

                                                                              1. The only thing I do to assist wildlife is grow a garden, which supports good and not so good insects.

                                                                                Absolutely nothing anymore. I used to do bird feeders, but a permanent neighborhood colony of house sparrows (which are invasive non-native pests that are lawful to kill without a license, along with starlings and pigeons; sparrows happily crap where they eat and nest) made continuing that unwise (even when I changed the feed to discourage them).

                                                                                I am just not close enough to fresh water ponds (about 1 mile away) to attach sustained interest of hummingbirds.

                                                                                Nothing for mammals whatsoever; they should not be fed. No interest in supporting racoons, opossums, coyotes, foxes, squirrels, rabbits, other rodents, roaming house cats (which have no business being left free to roam in our area: they easily go "missing" which means either they got chopped up in a car fan or, more commonly, they were delicious (that is, a coyote or fox ate them) - people who let their cats roam an urbanized area get what they deserve; house cats do not *need* to roam any more than domesticated dogs do; and roaming housecats are murder on bird populations).

                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Karl S

                                                                                  We don't feed mammals as well, Karl. It's just not a wise thing to do. There have been all the animals you mentioned plus a fisher cat, just passing through thank heavens. We're fenced in with a gate but that doesn't stop any of them. I've even seen foxes climb the fence.

                                                                                  As for pesky birds, the grackles are a concern here only because I hate the raspy rust gate sound they make but that's only during the Summer. The others swoop in then swoop out again. The robins scratch and peck in the garden soil and that's fine. It's like having resident chickens. Hummingbird feeder hangs on an arbor that is the entrance to the garden in another area of the property. The arbor is planted with red runner beans so they get the nectar that way too, and the chickadees will eat the seeds from the dry pods over winter.

                                                                                  1. re: Gio

                                                                                    Oh, we had a fisher one summer here too (and I live only 7 miles due north of downtown Boston). Mercifully, rats-with-antlers are not a regular presence here (fairly dense housing), though they certainly are a few miles away, and we don't have bears or cougars - yet. The dramatic reforestation of the Northeast in the last 50+ years has gradually led to the return of many other species.

                                                                                    1. re: Karl S

                                                                                      And I live about 2 minutes northeast of You. LOL

                                                                                2. None now. I learned my lesson when we were building our house, in a relatively wild area outside of Phoenix. My husband peeled watermelons for the workers when it was very hot and we threw the rinds for the animals. We also bought pounds and pounds of grapes, oranges and other fruit. Result?

                                                                                  A larger than normal crop of pack rats and rattlesnakes in addition to the usual coyotes, hawks, bobcats etc.

                                                                                  I have learned my lesson. No food, no way, no how.

                                                                                  1. We regularly take meat, shellfish, and other non-compost scraps way down to the edge of our property, where the raccoons and other nocturnal feeders take care of them. It saves trips to the dump, and the woods are very efficient about absorbing the clean bones and shells.

                                                                                    Don't think I'd want the noisy midnight feast too close to the house, though! Raccoons are so vocal.

                                                                                    I do put out water for wandering wildlife (next door neighbor's cats) during long dry spells.

                                                                                    1. This takes me back many years to when I was growing up. My family lived in a house by a lake and one summer I had a job as a hostess in a local coffee shop. I told the cooks that I was in the habit of throwing stale bread to the ducks in the lake and so they started saving all these scraps for me. Every evening I would schlep home with these HUGE bags of stale bread. Needless to say the ducks loved our lake and the babies became so tame they would let me pick them up.

                                                                                      1. Nothing other than the hummingbird feeder. Regular birds don't get fed so they eat the caterpillars and horn worms on my veggie plants. I do need to get a bird bath for them (so they stop pecking my tomatoes.) The racoons and possoms help themselves to my garden but mostly dig for worms and grubs. I stopped composting and started to bokashi because they ate all of the veggie scraps out of it.

                                                                                        We already have too many coyotes right here in the middle of the city because of the construction of a park in what had been their habitat. We don't want to do anything to attract them, they attack and kill cats and small dogs around here.

                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: weezieduzzit

                                                                                          Coyotes attack and kill all size dogs around here :( You're smart to not put out food.

                                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                                            They leave cat parts on the sidewalk here. It's terrible. :(

                                                                                        2. Nothing! My yard man says there are raccoons marauding around my yard and eating all of the avocados off of the tree. He suspects that because the avocados are eaten clean off of the pit then discarded on the ground. I live two blocks west of downtown in a large city so go figure on the wildlife! I did some research and found out that yes there is a huge population of raccoon families in this area of the city:) When I first moved into my home in 2000 there was a possum who would waddle up onto my deck and wait by my back door for me to feed him dry cat food:) I just could not resist. But no more. I went from one kitty to three and I do not want them to be exposed to any *bully* intruders if they are out in the yard.

                                                                                          9 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: MamasCooking

                                                                                            Squirrels will do that with avocados also. What's worse is they will take a bite out of an unripe one.

                                                                                            I leave nothing out. I live in an old walnut orchard so have squirrels by default. There are roving bands of raccoons who try to get in my bedroom late at night.

                                                                                            1. re: 512window

                                                                                              No squirrels here but do the raccoons make a chattering noise when they communicate with each other while strategizing a *break in*:) ?

                                                                                              1. re: MamasCooking

                                                                                                Yes, they do. They continue to make it when I head out onto the deck at 2 in the morning to chase all 8 of them away. It's a raccoon gang.

                                                                                                They also shit in the dog house. Why would a wild animal bother to do that?

                                                                                                1. re: 512window

                                                                                                  We had a cat that did that. Figured it was the cedar shavings.

                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                    This is carpet. They deliberately go into the dog house and shit there.

                                                                                                    1. re: 512window

                                                                                                      They don't like the dog :) But are passive-aggressive!

                                                                                                  2. re: 512window

                                                                                                    We had a plum tree that never yielded anything for us. The squirrels would take a bite out of each one and then throw them to the ground.

                                                                                                    The tree was here when we bought the house, and was already in decline, so we weren't expecting any great shakes. it wasn't worth trying to tent, but it would have been amazing to us to see a plum actually ripen - LOL!

                                                                                                2. None. The rodents - and that includes squirrels - harbor an interesting collection of parasites, up to and including Y. pestis, and I do not want to encourage them to get used to people. There's a wild creek nearby where the raccoons, possums, and skunks hang out, and enough gardens and plantings for the birds to raid when they want to. Wildlife should stay wild.

                                                                                                  (FWIW, small city, highly urbanized area but not that far from undeveloped hills: there have been reports of wildcats and mountain lions in the vicinity - in the heart of Silicon Valley. Lots of hawks around here recently, and crows that have driven off all the other small birds.)

                                                                                                    1. re: madisoneats

                                                                                                      The link from NYSDEC is a MUST READ! Thanks for posting!

                                                                                                      1. re: madisoneats

                                                                                                        Excellent article that I hope all here will read and decide if they want to make any changes.

                                                                                                      2. Their called 'wild life' for a reason. I don't feed any out door critters as I believe it disrupts their natural instincts to survive. As for 'squirrel proof' bird feeders....ha .... forget it. they don't exist!

                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: treb

                                                                                                          Our hanging feeder is out of reach of the squirrels. It is suspended on a single strand of 14 gage steel wire between two post 12 feet apart 5 feet above ground. We are in grey squirrel heaven, I can count over a dozen in the woods outside our kitchen window easily more often than not. They will clean up the spilt seeds , but can't get to feeder. Also the RT Hawks like the squirrels a lot,

                                                                                                          1. re: Raffles

                                                                                                            I got a chuckle out of your post.
                                                                                                            Way to perpetuate the food chain!
                                                                                                            And you get to watch birds feed....twice!

                                                                                                            OK. I'll admit it. I feel kinda bad for the squirrels now. Just as I commiserate with Sylvester.