Q: I recently bought a new bird feeder and the birds won't come to it. I have two old ones near it and they empty those. I leave the old ones empty for a couple of days hoping they'd use the new one, but they don't.

Do you have any idea why? It has a yellow top and bottom so I was wondering if the color might be the reason. I'm stumped! It's been up for over a week. -- JENNY, Pittsfield

A: It is a surprise to me also. I have hung new feeders and the birds have found them within hours (or maybe the next day, the latest).

Color is not important, providing the feeder resembles a feeder.

I might try hanging the new feeder from (if possible) the "old" feeder and see what happens. If the seed is the same, and birds take it from one feeder, they should eventually take it from another.

Maybe the feeder needs to "air out" a bit.

Q: I have heard that it is important to have water available for wild birds in the winter. Please explain how. I am sure that it would freeze within minutes. -- PETER, Adams

A: If you are serious, you will look into a small birdbath heater.

On the market are various units that will safely keep water from freezing at a nominal cost. If I were to get one, I would most likely look into a solar water heater.

You may be able to find a small unit at a local garden or farm supply or Wild Birds General Store in Great Barrington where you may also get some advice on what would work best for you.


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You can search for "solar bird bath heater" on the Internet. Bluebird update

On Nov. 28, a half mile north of the corner of East and Maple street on East Street in Lee, I spotted a bluebird. It may have been a pair, but could confirm only the one. -- FRAN, Lee

A: Fran, bluebirds, although we think of them as summer birds, are with us all year and often are seen in large flocks in the dead of winter. Having said that, it is always exciting to see one.

Woodpecker update

A few weeks ago, I answered a query about ending the antics of a woodpecker, possibly a red-bellied woodpecker, attacking its image in a reader's window.

A: I came up with several suggestions, but the one that worked, and we presume is still working, is one I did not suggest. Betsy in Pittsfield writes: "So far, helium balloons blowing in the breeze [by our window] have worked.

Questions and comments for Thom Smith? Email Naturewatch@live.com.