Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Addition to the birding station

I have a friend (Yeah, what a shocker, I have a friend! Of course in this case 'a' is literal. I have exactly one friend. . .) that lives about 20 miles away and he has a birding station outside his back door too. His includes a couple of suet cages and I see Jays and Woodpeckers on them from time to time.

We have Jays and Woodpeckers around here too, but apparently our birding station isn't classy enough for them since they don't hang out there, so I too added a suet cage.

So far it hasn't classed the joint up at all. Our feeder pole only has two hooks on it and they are currently occupied by one-each seed and hummingbird feeders so the suet cage was just kind of hanging there up against the pole between them.

Even I didn't find that very classy and a week later there were still zero beak-marks in the suet,
so I decided it was time to add another feeder pole.

 Since the theme of the existing pole is rebar & T-post, and I just happened to have some rebar and T-post laying around, that's what I built the new feeder post from.

The first job was to turn the end of the rebar into a little hook, but even my lightweight #3 rebar won't bend that sharp without hydraulics or some serious persuasion. Not having any hydraulics of the proper kind laying around I had to resort to the serious persuasion method, but I'm limited in even that since I don't have a proper oxyacetylene torch. (I'm still trying to maintain the illusion that I'm a wood man and not a steel worker and since cutting dovetails with an oxy-torch doesn't work too well I've never managed to convince myself it's something I just have to have! Except sometimes it might be nice to. . . oh never mind. . .)

What I can do is manage a little can of MAP gas, but no matter how long I hold the pathetic little flame against the rebar the best I can do is get just the faintest tinge of red, but then I'm not so sure that's not just wishful thinking.

With the bar as hot as I'm going to get it with my limited tools, I run outside to my bending station.

I'm not sure why, but when the parking slab was poured next to the barn slab they left this big steel spike embedded into it.

With that and a length of pipe I can get most of the hook bent into the end of the rebar.

And finish it off in the steel jawed bench vice.

In the process I did manage to crack one of the three bends. Don't know if I didn't get it hot enough or maybe bent it too fast, but it's just barely hanging on there and I will have to do a little welding to put things back together again.

Now that the end hooks were bent the easy bends were next. A clamp across the end of the end-hook to hold it in the proper orientation, and a little work with a pipe-bender

and I have three Shepard's crook looking bits for my new feeder pole.

Then it's out to the gravel drive where I can't set anything important on fire.

After a bit of welding to fix that broken hook, I clamp two of the crooks together at roughly a 120 degree angle and tack them in place.

I turned the first two crooks over and clamped the third crook into place.

After a couple tacks to make sure it stayed about where I wanted it, I added a few bead-welds to the whole assembly.

My brother the welder would point out that I've over-welded here, but with my (lack of) welding skills, overdoing it is not really a bad thing. besides, I could use the practice.

The area up near the barn is pretty gravelly under there and it takes more than a few whacks with the post-driver to get a T-post settled in and stable. Then some steel wire ties to attach the crook assembly to the T-post followed by some paint and we're good to go.

The suet, as well as a spare feeder and a garden ornament are hung with care,

but it's been a couple weeks now and still no takers on the suet (That will teach me to buy the cheap stuff!), though it only took a few minutes for a newly fledged Cardinal, of which we have loads of this time of year, to come check things out

and be the first to try the new feeder.

This is actually slightly unusual behavior. Usually the juvenile Cardinals will stand on the ground begging with little chirps and wing flutters while the parents pick seed off the ground from between the little one's feet and hand beak feed them. The greedy little buggers!

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